Monday, May 28, 2012

Avila - the Walled City

When you hear people talk about, "times were so simple back then..." they must be talking about Y1000, because can you imagine protecting a city by building a wall around it?  That's what those Romans did in 1100.  Yes, those same Aqueduct building, Christians torturing, crazy helmeted fools...the Romans
      The town of Avila, Spain, has the best preserved Roman walls in all of Spain if not the world...and the best part is, you can walk about 1/4 of a mile on top of them.  Makes you feel like grabbing a crossbow and taking out a few pedestrians below.... oops...that's the Roman in me.
"I'm sorry your honor but I please innocent by reason of genetic engineering... You see... I'm a Roman!"

From Segovia, we took a two hour bus ride.
Excellent bus.
  Some of them have WiFi.  Those that don't "give me" an opportunity to read, "The Sun Also Rises", by Hemingway, on my Kindle!  I can read about four chapters and then it's good night Irene... no offense Ernesto!

Upon arriving in Avila - BOOM -
 there's the walled in city.  
You can't miss it!

Uhhhhh.... Zack, you can put the map away now.  
We found the wall... in fact... we're on the wall!

and what's the best way to end a perfect day of wall walking... 
 with Paella and sangria... and some more sangria... and some more sangria...
Whew... all that wall walking is making me a bit dizzy!  

Oh Those Romans!!

Oh Those Romans!!

So what do Romans have to do with Segovia?  Well... like in most of Western Europe, they were in Segovia, Spain.  Personally, I am glad they were, but I'm not so sure of the Segovians of 2,000 years ago.  I'm very tired right now and won't write much but wanted to share one of the most awesome sights this side of solar flares - The Aqueduct of Segovia.
     Here's the scenario - Roman... when they weren't killing people, were building amazing things... like aqueducts.  Basically an aqueduct is a glorified water pipe.

The Segovians had no water so the Romans built an aqueduct to pipe the water that was 9 miles away in the mountains to the city and eventually to the Alcazar ... Ahhh... what's an alcazar?  An Alcazar is an Arab castle.  This Alcazar was originally a Roman castle, then the Arabs took it over (now you know how the rest of the world feels, Mr. Roman conqueror!).
Why not just move the city to the water?  I do not know all the details.  I just know that my Roman ancestors, aside from making chariot bombs, and arranging for people to "sleep with the fishes", could build things with the best of them.  For some reason, they thought it was easier to cut 20,000 stones, build 118 arches and gradually slope it for nine miles, than it was to say to the Segovians, "MOVE!"
    The aqueduct is about 100 feet at the highest and even impressed Zack!

   Check out these photos.

Just think:  No really... just think.  (sorry)
People walk right by this every day and I'm sure at some point, take it for granted.  Not me.  I'd touch that sucker every day.  No concrete. No mortar.  No Elmers.  No super glue!  Pretty darn impressive.

What is so cool is that like any good plumbing job, there has to be a slope from the top of one end of the pipe to the bottom of the other end of the "pipe" so that gravity does the work. To the naked, or even clothed eye, the aqueduct looks level, but it is actually sloping.  At some point it goes  underground.

Segovia, (did I mention that I love that city)  puts these brass   <<<<  markers in the ground to signify that the aqueduct is buried underground beneath the markers.  There are 24 such markers through out the city streets.  Zack and I had a bet that the first person to spot one would pay the other one whole Euro.  He agreed (fool!!)  I showed him the picture on my phone. 

My favorite picture of the summer!

Zachary going Jason Bourne on me!  Notice how there is no mortar between the stones.  They're just cut to order and are wedged in such a way as to hold each other in place.  Oh those talented Romans!

This is the top of the trough which is on top of the aqueduct.  The pipe itself.  I wonder if one of those Romans, upon completing this masterpiece of architecture said:
Claudius - "Hmmmmm....perhaps we should have made it a little bigger?
Antony - Bah!  You think too much.  In a few years it'll all be replaced by PVC.
Claudius - Good point.  Come on.  Let's go get six pack of vino.

It looks like the knight is saying, "Okay, so the cannon didn't fire.  What you're going to have to do is look down the barrel and..."

Lesson #224 - Never trust anyone that has to be oiled in order to walk.

Before leaving Segovia, I want to show you the bad, the  good, and the best.

The bad.   If this doesn't make me want to be a vegetarian nothing will.  It's a specialty of the area called, "cochinillos as ado"   which I believe  translates to,  "tortured and inappropriately displayed pig".  I know.  I know.  I eat beef and pork.  BUT!!   It's not like they were tortured.  They just take a metal rod to the head bone and BAM!  they're done!

The good.  White bean stew.  Of course, you could make the argument that hundreds of innocent beans were killed to make the stew.  Can you imagine the horror they experienced as they were indiscriminately plucked from their peaceful existence and thrown into a pot of scalding water??  Life sucks, man.  Life really sucks!  I'm starting to think that man can't live unless he's killing something!  

and the BEST.
No commentary necessary...  
...okay maybe just this:  How in the world could you leave them to go to work in the morning?!?!