Day 19 – Baelo Claudia and Trafalgar

Today was an archaeology day, but luckily it involved beaches!

Side note: I finally encountered a non-native English speaker saying “beach” but sounded like “bitch.” I have heard stories, but never encountered this phenomenon myself. So when the very kind old man sitting next to me at the wonderful little place we stopped for lunch in Evora was telling me all about Portugal’s “beautiful bitches,” it was all I could do to keep a straight face and nod enthusiastically; why yes, I just love beautiful bitches!!!

Anyway, beaches. And they were beautiful. We got up early so that we could take the train out to the Cadiz airport, where we picked up our rental car for the rest of our journey through Spain. Unlike our little toy car in Potugal and our dinged up Alfa Romeo in Morocco, this car is nice. It’s a Mokka 1.4 (there is a much wider variety of car makes and models in Europe, as far as I can tell) and it’s basically an SUV; it’s large and grey and very fancy inside – a little screen with GPS and all sorts of controls for things you’ve never even thought about before. It is definitely nice to be in a solid car, BUT the first thought I had when I saw it was “OMG how am I going to drive this thing in all these tiny Spanish towns?!” Chris assured me that it would be fine, and, like a fool, I believed him.

Anyway, we got the car and drove about an hour and half to Baelo Claudia. It’s a great little site right on the beach of this little bay. There were a fair number of tourists of varying nationality, and it was a bit weird to just be sitting on a bench for an hour while Chris did his research thing. We got quite a few odd looks.

After he finished all his research stuff, we walked around the site. It’s very well excavated and well signed, and gives you a great idea of what the town would have looked like. That, and the view is magnificent. Nice job, Romans. Once we had completed our tour of the town and the museum, we headed to a little beach spot for lunch (fried eggplant and fried fish – nothing special).

After lunch, we drove to Cape Trafalgar, at which the British won some battle that was important or something. There wasn’t a designated site there, just some vats crumbling into the ocean off the side of some cliffs on a sand dune. We hung out there for a while, and Chris concluded – after an hour or so of picture- and note- taking – that the vats weren’t vats at all, but probably part of a bath complex for some rich Roman’s seaside villa. Oh well, I got some good reading done, and it’s always nice to hang out on the beach.

Oh! And the COOLEST part of both beaches is that we could see these faint smudges of darker blue against the horizon in the distance and guess what?! Those smudges were AFRICA!! We could see Africa from the beach of Spain!! It was SO. COOL. I could barely handle it (can still hardly handle it).
After the vats-not-vats at Trafalgar, we drove back to Cadiz, where we had dinner (sandwich and burger) at a little craft beer place. It was late, and we were hungry and tired, so it was the easiest/fastest thing to do. Don’t worry, we’ll up our culinary game in Granada!