Saturday, May 7, 2011

Segovia and La Granja

I love this country more and more every day! Today was just what I needed to get re-energized for the rest of the trip. We took a day trip out of the city to Segovia and La Granja. This boy can only take so much of the big city before I go crazy, so it was nice to get a break from the hustle and bustle.

We woke up early and took the metro to the train station. Then, we got on the train to Segovia. A short twenty minutes later, and we were in the lovely town of Segovia. It was a little chilly, but the town was beautiful, so I decided to ignore the cold and take in the sights. Segovia is one of those cities that you see pictures of or see in the movies, but never think you'll get to see. It is full of tiny, brick streets with little shops all over the place, and charming restaurants everywhere you turn. The two things that make Segovia famous are it's cathedral and the Roman aqueduct placed in the city center.

The aqueduct was built by the Romans between the 1st and 2nd centuries and it's purpose was to bring in water from the mountains, about nine miles, into the city. It is one of the oldest, best-preserved monuments on the Iberian Peninsula. It has 36 arches and is huge, as you can tell from the picture below. The entire structure is held together with no mortar, just being held together by the weight of the rocks themselves. I could have stood there all day and stared at it, but I was wearing shorts and sandals and the rain was slightly nippy. So, I found a nice coffee shop and warmed up before moving on to the next stop of the tour.

After getting sufficiently warm, we walked to the Segovia Cathedral. It was definitely one of the biggest and oldest cathedrals I have ever seen. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was built between 1525 and 1577. The inside consisted of more than twenty chapels around the outer walls that were paid for by rich families from the are when it was built, an altar, and all the other staples of a Roman Catholic Cathedral. It was beautiful, and I even got to light a candle in one of the chapels! That was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.

The exterior of the cathedral, taken from the main square.

After our tour of the cathedral, we decided that it was time for lunch. We left the main square in search of a restaurant more off the beaten path and found this quaint little place that was serving my favorite. You guessed it, MENU DEL DÍA! It was delicious. We had a type of sausage stew, lamb steak with fries and a pepper, and rice pudding.

The rice pudding. It had a cute little heart made of sugary stuff. YUM!

As soon as we finished lunch, we met up with some friends who came late and got on the bus to La Granja. This is a small town just outside of Segovia. I thought of the two towns like Quincy and Canton. La Granja is important because it has a huge palace and the gardens are modeled after the French style. It was built in the 18th century for Philip V and the town around it was built in the years after. The land the town was built on was once farm land, but the Spanish royalty decided that they liked the land, so they took it. It was a beautiful palace and a perfect little town. We even got to see a wedding procession for two kind young gentlemen in the main square...

After catching the bus, we returned to Segovia to wait for our train back to Madrid. We drank a delicious cup of coffee and conversed until we saw the bus pull up. While we were at the train station, the rain finally let up and a rainbow popped up right over the station. I could see both ends of it (no gold, though...). Eventually, a second rainbow showed up and we had a little rainbow celebration on the train platform. Upon returning to the big city, a couple of us kids went out in search of some dinner. We found a sandwich shop and some chips and soda, and headed back to the apartment. It was a nice, relaxed dinner. It was truly a wonderful day, and I am looking forward to see what the rest of the trip has in store.


Aden and Jorge

Double Rainbow!

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