Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TUESDAY IN SEGOVIA: A CATHEDRAL, A CASTLE AND THE ROMAN AQUEDUCT

We slept in this morning!  I heard a loud knock on a door and I was instantly awake--I looked at my watch and was shocked to see that it was 8:15!  That is VERY late by our standards, but we both had a wonderful 10 hours of much needed sleep.

We looked out our windows into the plaza, and were a little disappointed to see that it was raining.  But no worries, by the time we had coffee, showered and dressed the rain had stopped and the sun was out... another beautiful day in Segovia.

Our first stop this morning was the Cathedral of Segovia, which is right on the Plaza Mayor.  Construction on the cathedral began in 1525 and was completed in 1768.   The architectural style is hard to define, although the Cathedral's visitor pamphlet describes it as Gothic with interior decorations in the Renaissance style.  It is a beautiful church, but we didn't feel a sense of grandeur as we usually do in Gothic cathedrals.  I'm guessing that's because this interior is a bit "chopped up" so there is no grand, soaring expanse of nave to "wow" us.

Here are a few pictures of the interior:

Beautifully painted ceiling in one of the chapels


 View of the bell tower from the cloister courtyard, unfortunately not open to the public to climb, darn!

Very ornate main altar:

Beautiful dome above the main altar:

After we finished in the church we decided it was time for a late breakfast, so we found a small bakery and cafe and each had a pastry and coffee.  Not exactly the breakfast of champions, but delicious!


After our breakfast we walked to the Alcazar, just a few short blocks from the plaza.   First written records of The Alcazar date to the 12th century, it was the residence for the Crowns of the Castile region during the middle ages.   King Carlos III established The Royal Artillery School in Segovia in 1742, with The Alcazar as it's headquarters.  The Alcazar was severely damaged in a fire in 1862, and was restored to it's present state from 1882-1898.  

Entrance gate:

Side view:

Front of the Alcazar:

David entering the castle, walking across the bridge.  Yes, there is a very deep ravine and moat (not currently filled with water) around the entire castle!

David's new girlfriend?  We're thinking this suit of amor must have been made for a woman, as it has a skirt-like design, unlike any others we've seen:

Pretty impressive amor for both horse and rider:


The throne room:


There were several beautiful stained glass windows, I especially this one:


A couple of favorite suits of amor, this one below had interesting feet:

Bird motif on the feet of the suit, and the "beaks" definitely point down, making it difficult to walk, I would think.  Maybe this was used mainly for riding into battle?

Funny looking breast plates on this one--they were quite pointy:

Beautiful vistas from every window:


Amazing ceiling detail--this one is all carved wood:


Here we are on the terrazzo:


David:

Walkway to a pretty tower:


Here we are again!


Looking down from the walkway (above) into a beautiful garden:

David at the artillery hall--lots of interesting crests, flags, old cannons, swords, crossbows, etc:


Detail of the decoration on a small cannon:

After about two hours in the beautiful Alcazar we walked back towards the Plaza Mayor, taking some pretty winding back streets:


It was definitely time for lunch, so we picked the first restaurant we came to--it was on a very tiny street in a residential area away from the center of town.  It was a great find!  We were the only tourists there, and no one spoke any English, so using my very rusty Spanish skills, we just pointed and ordered!  As we did yesterday, we chose the menu del dia, for only 10 Euros each.  What a bargain!

Davi'ds first course-Cuban rice with a fried egg:


My first course-beans cooked in a very flavorful broth:

David's main dish-stuffed pimientos.  Really, really good:

My first course: a very thin steak, obviously grilled over a wood fire.  It was absolutely delicious, cooked to perfection (rare).  I just ignored the fries!

The house "vino tinto"--just wonderful!

David's dessert-a caramel flan.  Super good!

My dessert-a lemon mousse. Or so the menu said! It was more like soup, but it had a great flavor.  I only had a couple of bites.


After that yummy lunch we decided to walk over to the Roman Aqueduct.  It's an amazing feat of engineering, dating to the late 1st or early 2nd century AD.  It's made of approximately 25,000 granite blocks that are held together without any motor.  The aqueduct is  over  2700  feet in length with 170 arches, with the highest arch being over 95 feet high--WOW!

We climbed up a steep set of steps at one end of the wall where it joins the old city wall.  The views were pretty impressive:



Here we are!


After all that stair climbing in the hot sun, we decided it was time for a sit down and a cold beverage--beer for David and sangria for me.  The view from our table--priceless!


By now it was early evening, and we had 9 PM reservations for dinner, so we strolled along the pretty streets, window shopping along the way back to our hotel.   We didn't buy anything, but did get a chuckle out of this pastry in a bakery window…...

 I don't think we'll be eating any of these, even at 5 for a Euro!


We'd wanted to try a "Menu del Degustacion" (Tasting Menu) of local specialties, and we'd read several good reviews about a restaurant near our hotel--The Jose y Maria.  We walked the short block to the restaurant, and when we got there, we were very glad we'd stopped by earlier to make a reservation.  It was packed, with many people waiting on the side walk!

It was a bit of a splurge for us, but worth every Euro--the service was extraordinary and the food was delicious!

The pretty dining room:

After asking our wine preference, our waiter served us an amuse bouche--two small cups of the most delicious looking soup.   Hmmmmmm,  it looked and smelled suspiciously like asparagus.  And it was--darn it anyway!   David enjoyed his and (un)kindly mentioned how tasty it was.

After the waiter confirmed that is was asparagus soup, he kindly brought us another dish to replace it--delicious potato and cheese croquettes.  They were crispy crunchy on the outside,  creamy soft on the inside, and not the least bit greasy.   Very tasty!                                               



Our first course was a salad of greens on a bed of avocado oil, topped with a soft creamy cheese, pimientos and a walnut.  Oh my--it was heavenly!

This next dish was our least favorite--a plate of sautéed chicken livers, shrimp and sausages.  
It had a somewhat sweet glaze.  The shrimp and sausage were both very good, but it was hard to get past the very strong liver taste--and we both love liver!

Another local specialty--a large flat white bean called Judiones.  These were cooked to perfection in a very flavorful pork and sausage broth.  Without a doubt, he best beans I've ever had.  Earlier in the day we'd bought a 1 kilo bag to bring home--we'll be cooking up a pot soon!


The most famous Segovian specialty is Cochinillo--or oven baked suckling pig.  It's flattened and roasted whole--head, tail and little trotters included!  The skin gets very crispy, and is considered to be a delicacy.

The head waiter, presenting us our very own little Porky for our approval; (we approved)

Our waiter, cutting up little Porky.  They claim it's so tender it can be cut with the side of a plate--and they do!


A close up of poor, cute little Porky:

Was it as fantastic as they claim?  YES!  It was melt in your mouth tender,  very moist and the flavor was wonderful.  We each tried a small piece of that crispy skin--it was delicious.  Tastes just like fried pork rinds! 

Somehow, we even managed room for a a few bites of dessert.  Even though we'd been "pacing" ourselves and hadn't finished any of the courses--it was still a lot of food.

Dessert--a small slice of traditional Castilan custard layer cake, and a scoop of yummy ice cream,  served on a shallow plate of sweet cream sprinkled with cinnamon.  Mmmmmm good! 



Did I mention the wine?  A bottle of wonderful Spanish red wine, and of course we couldn't drink the the entire bottle, but we did enjoy a couple of glasses each!

It was a short stroll back to our hotel--we were so stuffed I think we could have rolled right down the street!  It was a delightful and memorable meal, for sure.

As we walked back into the Plaza Mayor we noticed a few people milling about, but didn't think much of it, as the Plaza is a pretty lively place.  But soon after we got up to our room, we thought we heard drumming and looked out into the Plaza--it was a Semana Santa Procession!  This week is Semana Santa (Holy Week), and they celebrate it in style in Spain.  In each city there are several processions honoring the resurrection of Christ.  It's solemn, joyful and boisterous at the same time, strange as that may sound.  We enjoyed it from our balcony, and here are a few (not very good) pictures shot from above:



Yes, they are wearing hoods and robes-it does seem a bit shocking and creepy to us, as it reminds us of certain sad and shameful chapters in our history. It's perfectly normal here in Spain, nothing evil about it!

The lovingly decorated float:


The procession, lead by the robed and hooded men included a priest, several nuns in white habits, and a band of drummers and musicians dressed in fancy black velvet uniforms.  They marched right into the church courtyard.  The entire event lasted over an hour--it was quite a spectacle!



A very interesting end to a busy and wonderful day in sunny Segovia!  Good night…….

Tomorrow in Segovia:  We plan on taking a bus to the nearby town of Avila, it's an amazing ancient city with the most beautiful city wall and towers.  Stay tuned!






4 comments:

  1. Looks like you had a wonderful day. Love the pictures of both of you---you both look great and really happy. Pictures remind me of some of the ones Brian took when he spent the semester in Madrid. Glad to hear that the rain cleared up by the time you were ready to get out and start your day.

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  2. Yea, I figured out the Ipad glitch. Glad that you are having a great time even though the little piggy did not... LOL Great pictures. Hugs to you both!

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  3. Not as exciting as your tour but John and I strolled through the new Cabela's tonight and the BEST part of that was we saw Matt and Jeannie there:). What a wondeful day for you both!

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