After leaving the bewildering experience of Granada behind, we drove north to Segovia. Everyone we spoke to recommended an afternoon or brief stopover in this medieval town northwest of Madrid. We didn’t know what to expect, and after Granada we were mentally and physically exhausted. Fortunately, Segovia offered us the perfect remedy.
We arrived, literally, in the center of town late afternoon. Our hotel was on Segovia’s Plaza Mayor, a beautiful square lined with cafes, hotels and small shops. The sun was already behind the buildings as we set out on foot for a brief exploration. On the agenda for this architecturally stunning city was the Alcázar, the Cathedral and the Roman Aqueduct.
Segovia’s Cathedral is a beautiful, golden gothic structure built between 1525-1768. It sits at one end of Plaza Mayor and towers over many of the narrow, cobbled streets.
The Alcázar, well-known for its iconic shape – was at one time a Roman and Arab fortress. The structure that remains today, however, dates back to the 1100’s when Segovia was reclaimed by Christians. The Alcázar was rebuilt, renovated and expaned throughout the following centuries due to a cave-in, a fire, and to support its various uses including a fortress, palace, prison and military acamdemy. Today it’s a museum, and one of the most popular stops in Segovia. Setting high atop a hill, it also boasts expansive views of Segovia and the Spanish countryside.
As it was both a weekday and off-season, Segovia’s streets were quiet. No cars. Few people. It was a complete contrast to the bustle of Granada and our guards were immediately shed. We laughed, ran and played through the streets without a care in the world.
Then there was the food! Segovia is a foodie’s dream. Lamb, suckling pig, jamón, ponche Segoviano…I am not typically wowed by desserts, but I was rendered powerless by the bakeries in Segovia and their colorful confections. I highly recommend a stop (or two) at Pasteleria Limón y Menta. It will bring out your inner-child and make you jump up and down at all the possibilities! (I was so smote I forgot to take a picture!)
As for the suckling pig, we are all about experiencing the local delicacies, even those that take us out of our comfort zones. Mike and I were excited and optimistic about its deliciousness, Mr. N was horrified at the prospect and Miss A was nervous, but game. As it ended up, Mike and Mr. N loved it! The salty, savory, fall-off-the-bone meat was succulent and suited their palates perfectly. Miss A thought it was “fine,” and I was the one that was horrified. I did not expect to see eyelashes. Fortunately, the lamb and the roasted vegetables were delicious, and Miss A and I (the two non-lamb lovers) devoured it!
Castles, cathedrals and confections aside, Segovia’s paseo (evening walk) is the real must-see. It was unexpected after the quiet, empty streets we roamed earlier in the evening. As the sun set and shop lights came on, Segovia came to life. The elderly, families, teens and dog owners came out in droves. Conversations and laughter filled the crisp, dark air while music and warmth emanated from the brightly lit shop doorways. Friends gathered for drinks, families stocked up on produce and meats for the evening’s meal and nearly everyone held hands. It was as if the whole of the city was in love. I know we were.
Segovia was an unexpected delight. We only had a mere 18 hours, but our stay was both energizing and restorative. Despite arriving late afternoon, we saw the sights, took a stroll, ate a leisurely dinner and relaxed over coffee. We never felt rushed, and were never in a hurry. Spain’s magic once again? Perhaps….
Time stood still. I’m sure of it.