Segovia

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Segovia is all about that aqueduct.

As you come into town (providing I guess, you come from the right direction), you’re hit in the face with its staggering ginormousity.

BAM!

But seriously.
BAM!

BAM!!

BAM!!!!!!!!!!!

While we were staying with them, Mercedes and her mother took us out on two day trips, to two cities about 1.5 hours from Valladolid.

Segovia, to the south east (or just to the north of Madrid), is very much the town of Mercedes’ mother Maria: she went to university there.

Salamanca, to the south west, is where Mercedes went to uni.

(^us on our way to Segovia, with the city behind us)

At the end of the trips, Mercedes asked us which was our favourite of the two.

And I have to say, it’s hard to decide. Salamanca had an amazing cathedral (and we got to make like a pigeon and walk across the roof!!), and was a beautiful, laid-back kind of city.

But then, Segovia has a friggin’ aqueduct!

A Roman Aqueduct!

Built in 112 AD.

30 m tall at the highest point.

With over 100 arches.

And completely lacking any kind of mortar.

Plus… and I don’t know if I mentioned this..

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just don’t know Mercedes.

Maybe if Salamanca got themselves an Aqueduct?

(All pausing in awe of its majesty)

^ A slightly less impressive gift from the Romans.

And oh yeah,

That aqueduct again:    

Anyway, as I mentioned, Mercedes’ mother went to uni in Segovia, so we spent the early part of the morning walking through the city, seeing the sights and views, with Maria acting as both the best kind of historian (the one who has lived the history) and guide.

There’s really nothing better than having people who know a city tell you all the gossip and share their local knowledge with you, and the hospitality that the two Ms Cs shared with us in Spain really made our trip one of the best that we’ve ever, ever, ever been on.   

Apart form the sightseeing, we also (and you’ve probably guessed this by now), stopped for a beer and something to eat.

Mercedes, who is a harsh-but-fair teacher of Spanish ways, told us that we would only be able to eat food if we remembered what it was called in Spanish.

To that end, this is callos.

So I can eat callos again.

But to be honest, I don’t really want to (sorry guys).

Callos is a a slow-cooked stew with beef tripe, paprika and maybe some chorizo or (as here) mushrooms.

I found the squishy texture of the callos a bit too much like fatty meat, which is not overly my thing.

But Andy, who has never met a pork belly that he didn’t consume, had other feelings.

Strong feelings.

Passionate feelings.

We walked by the Segovia Cathedral, but mass was on, so we couldn’t go in.   

So instead we walked passed this, which I think is the church of San Esteban.

Maria shared some info, and Mercedes fact-checked from the map.

After a bit of a stroll around the city, we headed back towards the cathedral, to take a gander inside.

Ceilings for days!

I was pretty impressed by the cathedral. At first glance it was not overly ornate, which is more my thing.

But appeasing all tastes, they also had small side-chapels, where you could pray to the saint of your dreams, and also indulge your more-is-more tastes if they so happened to run that way.  

^We noticed that Northen-Spanish Jesus tends too look more agonized and bloody than Jesus in, say, Australia. Even his knee is damaged.

Very dramatic courtyard! Maria and Georg from Sound of Music would do a darn good hide-out in there.

After a bit more wandering we sat down to lunch.

I am very, very, sad that I can’t remember what this wonderful fried meat is called.

For now, we shall name it crunchymeat (all one word).

Crunchymeat is very, very tasty.

As the crackling pig settled in our stomachs, we headed towards the Alcazar.  It’s beautiful, but it’s also a fortress.

So you know you’d be safe when the Zombies come.

Plus, it also has some of the most fairytale-esque views in the land.

So you know, when you weren’t looking over your shoulder at the zombies, you could stare longingly across the plains towards the city and the cathedral.

Just.

So.

Picturesque.

Also, I feel like Spain does good clouds.

I guess it might be because of the mountains?

Or maybe because of how dry the air is? Because you might not know it, but Castile and Leon is perfectly dry nearly all year ’round. The land used to be absolutely littered with convents, and now they’ve all been turned into archives because the weather is perfect for preservation. No de-humidifying necessary, just open the windows in the afternoon.

See Mercedes, we listen!

Anyway, back at the fortress, Mercedes took a ‘couples’ photo for us…

^I mean this is pretty good.

But this is better:

Mercedes was also in a posing mood.

We walked around a bit more, and then headed back to the car, taking a final glimpse of the majestic aqueduct (also posing) against the deep blue sky.

By the way, do you see the statue in the middle there?

According to legend, the aqueduct was built by the devil, in a single night, in exchange for the wish-maker’s soul.

Luckily for the person in question, and, I think, thanks to the Virgin, the devil forgot a brick.

So, no soul for him.

And a small shrine to the Virgin up there in place of the brick.

Instead of heading home we jetted further south to the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso.

This is not it, but it’s quite pretty don’t you think?

Anyway, before we went in Mercedes and I had some icy lemonade, which is only important because at the same time Andy and Maria grabbed a horchata.

Horchata. Noun. A kind of sweet milky beverage made from tiger nuts.

Turns out the Castile-and-leonians were into nut milk way before it was trendy. #originalhipsters

I have to mention here that by the time we had finished with Segovia- walking around in the hot-sun-which-I-am-very-much-not-used-to-anymore, I was exhausted.

But the gardens were beautiful.

Enough to lift anyone’s mood.

I think he’s supposed to be eating the deer, but he really looks like he’s enjoying it waaaay too much.

 

The park has twenty six copper-toned fountains, each one representing a different mythical theme. These are all fed from a reservoir at the highest point of the park, and are fully functional. However, in reality they use such a massive amount of water that, according to Maria, they would only be turned on when the King actually strolled near them.

Today, they only function twice a year on the the feast days of San Fernando and San Luis.

    

Also in the park- a maze!

Not a maize maze, unfortunately. But still pretty good.

That’s all folks. The sun set. We hit the car.

And headed home to Valladolid to eat some more seafood!

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