The Wood brothers cycle along Spain's east coast, watching a football match at Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium and visiting the ancient Greek ruins of Ampurias.
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We're on a ten-week journey,
cycling 3,500km on the trail of the great Carthaginian warrior -
Over 2,000 years ago,
Hannibal marched his army from the south of Spain,
across the Alps, and into Italy.
He launched a spectacular assault on the heart of Roman power.
Hannibal's brothers, Hasdrubal and Mago, were his generals.
I'm Danny Wood,
I'm a journalist, and like Hannibal I'm travelling with my brothers -
Ben, a computer expert, and Sam, an archaeologist.
Hannibal marched with over 100,000 soldiers,
armed with swords, spears...
..and 37 elephants.
We're armed with three bikes.
-And a bike-cam.
So far, we've cycled 350km up Spain's eastern coast.
Now we're going to ride through two of Europe's most exciting cities,
both ancient and modern.
CROWD CHANTS: Barca! Barca! Barca!
And we'll take on the challenge of the Pyrenees.
Day eight of our journey -
the River Ebro.
Spain's longest river, the Ebro runs for nearly 1,000km
across the north of the country.
Hannibal arrived here in June 218BC.
He'd already conquered the pro-Roman city of Saguntum,
and Rome had declared war on Carthage.
Now Hannibal was about to launch a new challenge to Roman power.
Seven years earlier,
the Carthaginians signed a treaty with Rome
promising to never cross the Ebro in arms.
All land north of the Ebro was regarded as under Roman influence.
Hannibal decided to cross this river
with his vast army of over 100,000 men.
Now war was unavoidable.
Hannibal probably commandeered local fishing boats
to take him and his vast army across the river.
Luckily for us, there's now a ferry.
We're now riding through the Ebro River Delta,
and Hannibal and his army also passed through here
and it's probably reasonably similar to how Hannibal saw it in those days.
It's very, very flat, lots of water,
and a very pleasant place for a ride, actually, because it's so quiet.
It's a also a wildlife sanctuary,
and there's a ton of rice cultivation too.
The Roman historian, Livy, tells us that Hannibal
had a strange and vivid dream near here.
In his sleep, Hannibal was visited by a young man
who said he was a guide sent by Jupiter to lead him into Italy.
He ordered Hannibal to follow him and not turn back.
Hannibal obeyed, but overcome with curiosity, he turned around.
He heard crashes of thunder and saw the wreckage of trees and houses.
And in the midst of all of it was a huge snake,
destroying everything in its path.
When Hannibal asked what this vision meant, the young guide answered,
"the destruction of Rome."
Hannibal interpreted his dream as a premonition of victory.
This was divine approval for his vendetta against Rome.
He was spurred on as never before.
Back in the real world, Hannibal did have the upper hand -
the Romans had no idea what he was up to.
They assumed that Hannibal was planning
to expand Carthaginian territory in Spain.
So they decided to send one army to confront him there,
and another to strike at the heart of Carthage in northern Africa.
The Romans had no idea that Hannibal was planning to invade Italy.
Rome had the greatest navy in the western world,
they knew he wouldn't dare attack by sea.
And any notion that Hannibal would cross the Alps with his army on foot
didn't even occur to them.
One of the greatest elements of Hannibal's audacious plan
was the element of complete surprise.
The Romans thought Hannibal's march was physically impossible.
We're beginning to see why.
We're using Ben's hi-tech GPS to find our way,
but every day seems to take longer than we expected.
Just arrived in another campsite in northern Spain.
And we've done two consecutive big days of riding,
and the day before that I can't even remember, starting to get so tired.
The legs don't feel like they're going to recover overnight any more.
They feel like they're going to be sore all day tomorrow as well.
I had two punctures today.
Is that a puncture?
Ah, god, yes. It's flat as!
Yeah, it's dead as.
The second one was a bit annoying because we were trying
to get to the campsite before dark, so it slowed us down.
I got so angry I nearly threw my bike, actually.
-That's puncture number
In how many days?
Well, second one today.
But it's been a good day. We've had a nice day.
And we'll go and have a big dinner.
# Raindrops keep falling on my head
# I'm just like the guy
# Whose feet are too big for his bed... #
Day ten, and it's our first day of rain.
# Raindrops keep falling on my head
# They keep falling... #
We continue up the east coast of Spain, through the city of Tarragona.
And then onwards through the seaside resort of Sitges.
It's funny, because drivers don't get more cautious in the wet,
they seem to turn mad.
But anyway, we've headed to the coast and we're going up
through all these seaside resorts.
They're all empty and it's all pretty dreary and miserable.
But anyway, it'll hopefully stop soon.
Four hours later,
and we're arriving in one of the world's most vibrant and fashionable cities.
In Hannibal's day, Barcelona was little more than a village.
According to local legend, it was founded by Hannibal's father,
Some believe the name Barcelona comes from Hamilcar's family name,
Barca - an ancient word for lightning.
Barcelona's Carthaginian roots
can still be found in some unlikely places.
CHANTING: Barca! Barca! Barca!
This is Camp Nou, home to FC Barcelona.
Today, Barcelona are playing Madrid.
This stadium holds almost 100,000 people -
about the same number as Hannibal's army.
And they can be just as fierce.
CHANTING: Barca! Barca! Barca!
They've no idea they're shouting Hannibal's family name.
Barca! Barca! Barca! Barca!
Go, Barca! Go, Barca!
Go, Barca! Barca! Barca!
Go, Barca! Go, Barcelona!
-Barca! Barca! Barca! Barca!
-# Forca Barca!
# Da-daa da-daa daa
# Forca Barca! #
And the score?
Madrid - two, Barca - four.
It's nice to see that Hannibal's spirit lives on
in this modern army of football fans.
-So we just want to avoid the carretera, don't we?
We seem to have a nice yellow road...
'The next morning we're ready for a day in the hills.
'But Ben's GPS has broken down.'
Yeah, so I feel a bit guilty about the GPS not telling us
exactly where we need to go
and we've ridden, perhaps, 100km extra due to GPS malfunctions.
Well, we need to do to you what they did to Carthaginian generals who failed and crucify you.
We've been trying to find our way up the coastal paths of Spain,
and it's really been quite difficult.
You, more often than not, end up on a highway for long bursts,
so we've done what Hannibal did and found ourselves a local guide.
However, unlike him, who had a local tribesman,
we've got the local professional mountain-bike rider.
He just happens to be about 80 years old.
He's just ahead with Danny.
# Es una historia eterna
# Que llena todo el alma... #
We finally get going and reach the Costa Brava.
# It's so romantic swaying
# You're sliding into a love
# In the silent of night... #
Hundreds of thousands of people come here every year on holiday.
But just beyond the beaches
there's an extraordinary trace of Hannibal's lost world.
These are the remains of Ampurias or Emporion -
the most important Ancient Greek colony in Spain.
By 218BC, the Greek empire was in decline,
but this colonial outpost
was still going strong when Hannibal passed by.
So, Marta, what would Ampurias have been like in Hannibal's time?
Well, in that time, at the end of the third century BC,
Ampurias, Emporion, the Greek Emporion,
continued to be a very active trading post.
But at the same time it had political alliances with Rome,
so the Greeks from Emporion were also worried
about the military expansion of Hannibal.
In fact, they sent embassies to Rome
just after the crossing of the River Ebro by the Carthaginian army.
What do we know of the archaeology from Hannibal's time?
We have one important element - a reinforcement of the city wall.
It was built in this dangerous moment for the city
with the advance of the Carthaginian army.
Despite uneasy relations between the Greeks and the Carthaginians,
Hannibal would have felt at home here.
The Carthaginians were no barbarians -
Their ancestors developed the alphabet adopted by the Romans,
the one we still use today.
And their advanced agricultural techniques
were adopted by the Romans.
Although Hannibal is best known as a military commander,
he was also cultured and steeped in Greek learning.
Hannibal even had a Greek tutor and he'd read the works of the authors like Homer.
Ampurias must have seemed like a welcome stop,
a home away from home on an arduous campaign like his.
'Before we could leave Ampurias,
'we were interviewed by the local TV news.
'For one night only, we became minor celebrities on Costa Brava TV.'
Hemos empezado en Cartagena,
y vamos por toda la costa de Espana,
por los Pirineos, por Francia, por los Alpes, y al final en Tunis.
REPORTER SPEAKS CATALAN
We're just getting up and about to pack up our tents
and get ready for the cycle today.
Got a great campsite actually,
it's on the water and you could hear the water lapping all night.
And I love sleeping in a tent - it's good fun and I generally sleep OK.
Danny, on the other hand, We got a great photo of him -
his face was puffed up, his eyes were totally swollen,
and he's not enjoying camping much, I don't think.
DJ. Hey, sorry. Time to get up.
Are we actually going to film?
Yeah, I think so. Here's your outfit.
'The whole camping experience is an interesting one.'
Last night I didn't have a really good night's sleep,
and I woke up with the puffiest face I've ever had.
So, the whole crowded side of a campsite
does kind of undermine the whole natural experience
that can be so beautiful when you are camping.
Campsites give me some sort of instant depression.
I can't pinpoint exactly why, but I suspect it's some childhood issue.
I remember going on Cub Scout camps
and after about five hours going to my Scout leader and saying,
"I want to go home now,"
and 90% of the time I did.
My parents would turn up and pick me up and take me home.
So I think there's some childhood psychological problem I have.
We're cycling further north, up into the hills above the Costa Brava.
For Hannibal and his army, this was enemy territory.
Again and again, Hannibal clashed with local tribes,
including the Ilergetes, the Bargusii, and the Andosini.
Hannibal had to be alert at all times for ambushes.
Hannibal also had to find a way to feed his army of 100,000 men.
This, plus all the people needed to service such a great army,
which would have included cooks,
servants, trades-people, even prostitutes...
There was also the thousands of animals coming along too,
which would have included donkeys, horses, and of course,
the very important elephants which were so key to his vast army.
This was a city on the move.
Hannibal sent scouts ahead to search for the most fertile areas
where food would be easiest to locate.
Hannibal's army must have laid waste to whole swathes
of the countryside in its search for grain and livestock.
It must have been like a tornado passing through.
But what would Hannibal's men have eaten?
Our friend, chef Adam Melonas, is cooking us a Carthaginian feast.
So, Adam, what have you been preparing for us on the beach here?
Ok, this is a dish called the Trojan Pig.
So it's a pig cooked on the spit with...
The insides have been filled with sausages,
and this would have been served on the head table with the VIPs.
A knife is inserted in the stomach and cut open,
so all the sausages fall out onto a platter in front of the people.
So, are the sausages meant to look like intestines?
-God, that's horrible.
-Very. In this day and age, yes.
There weren't many Carthaginian vegetarians, then?
Luckily for Adam, none of us are vegetarians...
It's a bit like when Sam's dog had puppies in my bed.
Undeterred, it was time to try the pig.
How is it?
-Very, very nice.
It's very, very good.
Wow, that's a massive bit.
Thanks - that's great. Yum.
Mm. That's really good.
It's delicious. It really is nice.
Thank you. Hail pig.
'Dessert was even more challenging.'
Gosh, that looks... That looks very, very yummy.
ALL: To Carthage.
Nothing could stop Hannibal's march north.
The Ancient Greek historian Polybius notes that, "He took several cities
"by storm, and completed the campaign with remarkable speed."
I'm not sure we can say the same thing about ourselves.
We try to sleep every day, just because it's very tiring.
And if you can shut your eyes for a while it really
helps with the afternoon cycling.
I think Danny sleeps the most, or sleeps the best anyway.
And he manages to sleep at the drop of a hat, which I find very hard.
I suppose, having lived in Spain for a few years,
I'm used to having a quick 10 to 15 minute sleep,
so that coupled with the exhaustion
of bike riding means I can usually go to sleep pretty easily.
As he approached the Pyrenees, Hannibal left one of his generals,
Hanno, with 11,000 soldiers
to hold the land he'd won since crossing the Ebro.
Then, when Hannibal revealed his intention to cross the Pyrenees
and the Alps, he faced mutiny.
3,000 men refused to continue.
Hannibal knew there was even tougher terrain ahead,
and he knew he needed complete loyalty.
So he sent the 3,000 men who refused to advance, along with a further
7,000 soldiers whose loyalty he doubted, back to New Carthage.
It's a credit to Hannibal's formidable leadership that even
more of his men didn't turn back.
He was leading an international army made up of Carthaginians
along with Numidians, Mauretanians and Iberians.
They bore no instinctive loyalty to Carthage.
Livy tells us why Hannibal commanded the respect of his men.
Mounted or unmounted, he was unequalled as a fighting man,
always the first to attack, the last to leave the field.
He could endure with equal ease excessive heat or excessive cold.
When his work was done, then and only then he rested.
Often he was seen lying in his cloak on the bare ground
among the common soldiers.
Hannibal would need all his leadership skills
as he faced the next challenge,
We're approaching the Pyrenees through some beautiful vineyards,
and you can see the foothills directly ahead of us.
How are you feeling about this, Ben?
I'm feeling fine. I'm looking forward to the climb, actually.
-I'm thinking of foothills and seeing all these vineyards
-and looking forward to French wine.
-What about you, Sam?
-I'm looking forward to climbing hills, actually.
I'm looking forward to climbing another hill on the bike.
-# Good morning
-Good morning... #
The morning of the great climb.
And we're raring to go.
Or we would be if we could find our way out of our tents.
# Good morning, good morning To you... #
Morning. Very good sleep. Very, very good sleep.
Best one in the tent so far.
I'm off for a shower now.
# Good morning, good morning... #
Nice to see you in the morning.
# Good morning to you. #
We've been climbing for over an hour now.
Polybius tells us that by this time Hannibal had about 60,000 soldiers
left, just over half of the number he'd set out with.
The remaining force began the long climb up into the Pyrenees.
Like much else concerned with Hannibal,
the actual pass he took across the Pyrenees is disputed.
But since historians imply that the crossing was easy and event-free,
it's thought he took the simplest route across.
We've chosen to take the most scenic route, the coastal pass.
I imagine this is one time when we can actually say that
we're probably having pretty similar feelings to Hannibal.
When he got here, he knew he had miles to go.
He had the Rhone to cross,
he had the Alps to go over and we're the same really.
I mean, it's great to be in the Pyrenees
and I love cycling in hills, but there's a very long way to go.
We're just about to cross the Spanish-French border on the Pyrenees.
I've always loved climbing mountains on the bike, actually,
but it's different when you're loaded down with all your stuff.
It takes a bit of the pleasure out, because it's so difficult.
And you're going so slowly.
But it's lovely, lovely in the mountains.
It's something different about being up in the hills here
in real mountains than it was down the coast of Spain where we were
in mountainous country, but you don't get quite the feeling
of height that we've got up here, looking down on those little
baby trees and the little cars looping around.
It must have been like that for Hannibal, looking down on his
soldiers snaking around the passes as he was snaking around
the higher passes, as we are now.
Finally, we reach the top.
France ahead, and below. It's time to burn.
This is unreal! Yes!
Viva Las Vegas!
We cycle north into France, to the little, walled town of Elne.
This was completely alien territory to Hannibal, inhabited by hostile
and dangerous tribes.
But Hannibal had sent scouts ahead
to gauge the mood and strength of the local population.
Reports had been promising.
Rome didn't have too many supporters in Gaul.
But when Hannibal arrived here in Elne, he immediately came across
resistance from a Celtic tribe called the Volcae.
So he sent a delegation to their leaders,
saying he'd come as a friend.
Rome was his only enemy.
The Volcae leaders gathered at Hannibal's camp.
The mood was tense, but Hannibal lavished treasures upon them.
The next day, they agreed to let his army pass.
Now only the Alps stood between Hannibal and Rome.
In the next programme,
we cross the Rhone.
The gloves are off in a race to the top of Mont Ventoux.
And we prepare to scale the Alps.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
History and travel series in which three Australian brothers - Danny, Ben and Sam Wood - set out cycling on the trail of Hannibal, the Carthaginian warrior who marched from Spain to Rome at the head of an invading army accompanied by elephants.
The Wood brothers continue to cycle north along the east coast of Spain, calling in at Barcelona's famous Camp Nou stadium to watch a football match before visiting the ancient Greek ruins of Ampurias.
Chef Adam Melonas cooks the brothers a Carthaginian banquet on the beaches of the Costa Brava. Fully fuelled, the Woods are ready to take on the mountains, cycling across the Pyrenees into southern France.