A visit to Italica

Roman mosaic, Italica
Roman mosaic, Italica

We had to vacate the apartment by 10:00, leaving after breakfast for an inspection of the last remaining section of the city wall in the Macarena district. We then crossed the Rio Guadalquivir and into Santiponce, passing a train of oxen pulling carts along the way. Our destination was Italica, a Roman town founded in 206 BC and the birthplace of the emperor Trajan. We reached the site in time for lunch and found some shade, none was available for the tour with the temperature rising to 33 degrees. The amphitheatre was well preserved but the highlight was the mosaics which were in remarkably good condition. We called into a bar to rehydrate then made a long trek across the city where we’d booked an apartment close to the airport.

The next morning we made the scary 3km ride along the autovia, which is the only way to access the airport. We were among the first to check in, two hours before the flight with our bikes prepared and packaged. We took them over to the large items area but they were too big for the scanner, and unlike Gatwick they didn’t have a hand scanner. Eventually they got the other two of our party’s bikes through but not mine, so I had to access the carefully packaged bike to lower the saddle. Still no good so I had to remove the front wheel. They tried again but the machine failed at that point!

They said the only option was to find the police to approve the bike, so the Spanish EasyJet representative, who was excellent, sorted this out for us and then took my bike to replace the wheel and repackage it and arrange for loading as we were in danger of missing the flight with all the faffing about.

It does seem bizarre that airports insist on a conveyor belt scan but don’t install sufficiently large equipment to cope with a bike. I’d certainly drop the seat post in advance next time, but am reluctant to remove wheels. Back at Gatwick, we reassembled the bikes and loaded them onto the Gatwick Express. Central London was surprisingly windy as we rode to Euston, and there were so many taxis that the bike/bus/taxi lane was every bit as hazardous as the main carriageway. There was just enough time to buy some food for the train prior to boarding, a double Voyager unit with the front unit leaving its sister at Chester to carry on alone to Holyhead. We removed our luggage and hung the bikes on the horrible hooks, then settled down for the journey. Then after leaving Crewe there was announcement that the leading unit was faulty and it would be the rear one that went forward from Chester, at which point many of the passengers jumped up and queued at the doors. There was no need for them to worry but we had bikes and panniers to unload and reload. Eventually we arrived at Bangor to cycle the seven miles home in the fading light.