Thursday, January 30, 2014

1/29/14 Day 13 Segovia

Woke up to a snowy Segovia! Time to bundle up it is going to be a cold day. We enjoy a breakfast of homemade bundt cake and milk before 9:00 when Lorena has to work. Carlos drops us off at the aqueduct roundabout where a busy flurry of traffic whizzes by (this is where pretty much everyone in town gets picked up and dropped off). 
We agree to meet back for lunch and head into a cafe for some cafe con leche and wifi to wake up and come up with a plan of attack. We thank the barista for our coffee and head vaguely in the direction of the Alcazar. This castle was built sometime the 12th century over top of previous Roman Ruins, up on a craggy outcrop a few hundred feet above the river below it. If this wasn't a deterrent for attacking the royal family one would only need to look out the huge windows of the banquet hall to see pretty much all of Segovia to realize that sneak attacking is not an option. We paid the 5 euro fee including a visit up the tower, saving 2 whole euros with our ISIC student cards.  We walked from room to room admiring the beautiful stained glass windows, ornate ceilings. The castle was completely empty as all of the tourist bus hordes don't cross the actual threshold of touring a place just snapping pictures and clamboring back on the bus for the next vacation scrapbook page. When we had thoroughly seen everything with unlocked doors (and probably tried almost all of the locked doors as well) we headed up the nauseatingly repetitive tight spiral staircase to the tower. I thought you could see all of Segovia from the first floor, anything out of view there was proudly beaming from here. After admiring the city from up top we paused for a solid selfie before heading back down to the snow line on the street. 

We wandered down the path leading from the castle around the city and castle fortification walls winding around to an amazing viewpoint and then back up and around to Casa del Sol (house of the sun, Segovia's museum) we inquired about the price, and with our ISIC student cards we get a free visit, I always knew those degrees would come in handy ;-) we flowed through the museums information on Segovia geology, wool making, and coin creation (the house of money is right down the street and was the first mechanized mint in Europe, unfortunately we didn't get to visit). The museum ran continuous films on the creation if the aqueduct and how-to videos for some of the first tools used by humans, personally my favorite was instructions for "sharp rock". After the museum we zigzagged down some more beautiful streets, past the amazing cathedral and to the beginning of the above ground portion of the aqueduct, there is also a below ground portion of the structure for a grand total of 14,965 meters of aqueduct. We followed the 166 stone arches all the way to the beginning point where the first of two filter stations was located to separate debris from the water. In complete awe of the structure with no cement or mortar to hold it together, just amazing engineering by the Romans. 

Almost 2:00 time to meet Lorena and Carlos at the roundabout and head home for lunch and siesta. They prepared us home made chorizo sausage, fried eggs, rice, fresh French bread and local mushrooms. Quite the feast especially the chorizo, Lorena's family is in the pig industry, which besides the Alcazar and Aqueduct, Segovia is known for their suckling pig dish which as tradition goes the meat is so tender you can cut it with a plate. For us no suckling pig but all the chorizo we can get for sure.  A glass of milk to wash it all down, Carlos really likes milk, probably drinks 3 liters a day or more and buys it 18 liters at a time, only the milk here people don't worry about refrigerating, same thing with eggs, still getting used to lukewarm milk. After we finished eating time enough for an hour of siesta  before Lorena's two hour lunch break would be over, we spent it on a small nap. 

Alright nap time is over, let's see how many layers I can fit on my body for a hike in the mountains. Helly Hansen warm base layer. Patagonia down jacket. Arc'teryx atom mid layer jacket. Topped off with an Arc'teryx rain shell, yeah you would hope that that and three pant layers, two scarves and a hat would do it. Feeling like a marshmallow we head out 45 minutes to the local mountains with Carlos while Lorena finishes up her work day. 
Parking beside a secretive looking military base the wind starts to howl, I seriously consider letting the boys go and curling up in the car for a few hours for a moment...then pull my buff up above my nose, tighten up my hood and shoelaces and jump out into the snow. As soon as we start walking and get into the treeline my worries of freezing dissipate and for ten minute of huffing it uphill I almost start to get warm but unzip one layer and am quickly brought back to a comfortable temperature. On the first hill we climbed up was a hidden army hideout among the rocks. This area was instrumental in the civil war and as we can tell would be very easy to hide in, especially in the winter. 
We strolled through the rocks and pine trees. This trail has a waist high rock wall dividing Segovia and Madrid counties and showing us the path of the trail. Without this waist high wall we could have gotten easily lost in the mountain with how low the visibility was while hiking. Up and down the first hill we went and already the skies were darkening at 6:00 when we started to summit the second peak. We explored the shelter at the top meant for hikers caught in storms and with a beautiful lookout over the top, unfortunately the visibility was nada. We decided to head back, so we turned on our headlamps and galloped down through the knee-calf-thigh high snow another hour and a half back to the warmth of the car. 
On the way home we stopped by Carlos' fathers so he could pick something up and we got to meet Sophie his little Black and Tan dog and her 2 week old baby. So cute, but made us miss Mocha quite a bit. We ended the night with long hot showers and pizza covered in chorizo. Exhausted we went to bed after setting our 7:00 alarm, tomorrow is a day filled with travel. 

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your blog, seeing photos of your adventures and hearing about your hosts who welcome you as friends into their homes and enrich your experiences. Segovia sounded like a great stop!