Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ay, Segovia

After spending my first two trips of the month in Hawaii, I am back to winter in Europe this trip, with a suitcase full of boots and clothing layers instead of shorts and a swimsuit.  My layover in Madrid was 49 hours, which meant I had time to enjoy the city itself, and then time to make a daytrip to another nearby city.
I decided to sleep when we first arrived, since the nightlife in Madrid doesn't even get started till around 10pm.  I was going to head out on my own when I woke up,  and visit Cafe del Principe, one of my favorite restaurants.  At the bus stop, I ran into a few of my fellow crewmembers and joined up with them.  We headed toward Puerta del Sol, with no particular restaurant in mind.  We chose a bar at Calle Barcelona 12, which none of us had heard of nor read any reviews on. We liked it because it looked to have the atmosphere and the crowd we wanted.  It was called, appropriately, La Descubierta (The Discovery).

I have since read the review at this link  and was astonished that we ordered all the specialties that they recommended.  We were served complimentary individual toasts with toppings, and a basket of bread with our wine.  There were 5 of us and we ordered 2 salads, potatoes with 2 sauces, calamari, and a platter of grilled meats. We were not able to finish all of the food.  After dinner we were treated to a "digestive" liqueor.  Everything that we ordered was absolutely delicious, and the price was very reasonable.

The next morning I took the 6:30am bus to Segovia.  The tour books said the bus would take 2 hours, but the sun was just coming up when we arrived 1hr and 15mins later.  The town was barely awake as I walked down a cobbled pedestrian street to the ancient Roman aqueduct.

Built in the 1st century AD of local granite, without mortar, it is probably the finest existing example of it's type.  It has been kept functioning throughout the centuries and been preserved in excellent condition.
It was gorgeous as the sun rose behind it, and turned the street pink and gold.  More information about this
magnificent monument can be found here.

At 8:00am a local coffee bar opened.  The visitor information center didn't open till 10am, so I decided to have a cup of coffee then set out around the city without a map.  I could ask directions of the locals and find my way to the massive cathedral atop the city on my own.  I found a street that went uphill, and started climbing.  Along the way I came across the beautiful San Martin Church with it's mudejar bell tower.

I came out at the open market in the Plaza Mayor,
with the 16th century cathedral directly in front of
me.  I paid the slight admission charge and entered
the Cathedral.  It was as magnificent as I expected.
I entered the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament to
admire the altarpiece, when I was caught up in a
communion Mass.  It was a beautiful service and I
didn't regret the surprise, although it was the first
time I ever paid to go to Mass.

I left the Cathedral and asked directions to the Alcazar from an elderly man with a cane.  He said to continue climbing the hill, it wasn't too far. His idea of  "not too far" put my idea to shame.
The Alcazar was fascinating.  The architecture alone, situated on  a bluff with a moat surrounding it, is magnificent.
You have to buy a ticket to enter, and an additional ticket to climb the 182 steps to the top of St. John's Tower.  My mind was willing but my knees said "no" to the tower (pictured below).  There were many fascinating things to keep me delighted with the main building.

Inside is a museum of artillery, some historic furnishing, suits of armour, and marvelous tapestries.
My favorite tapestry is the one below of Queen Isabella I being proclaimed queen of Castille and Leon (although the actual event took place in the town square).

Here are a few interesting pages about Segovia and it's Alcazar.

I was exhausted after walking through the Alcazar.

The views all around are magnificent, and I think
the only other thing I really would have liked would be a cafe with a view. I would have loved to relax with a glass of wine and reflect on all the history I had just witnessed.

I took a bus back to the Aqueduct and finally
visited the tourist office and got a map of
Segovia.  I wantedto know the name of many
building and sites I had
walked past during the day.

I returned to a restaurant that
I had seen earlier in the day, sat
by a window and enjoyed
my meal while looking out
over the rooftops.

I made one more stop at a shoe shop
I had passed, and purchased a pair of  "Boots of Spanish Leather".  I am, after all, of the Bob Dylan generation.

The bus ride back to the city was beautiful, traveling through the snow in the mountains, and glimpsing a sample of the Spanish countyside to the north and west of Madrid.  This countryside and Segovia have enchanted me.

1 comment:

Patti said...

Thank you so much for sharing these pics of Sergovia..Julie and I had gone there a few yrs back and it brought back such wonderful memories...I Just love the aqueducts..