A day in Segovia

A day in Segovia

Segovia is only a 30-minute, 20-Euro Renfe ride from Madrid, and the three main sights can easily be seen in a day trip, although I would love to see them in the evening light and at night.

The Guiomar train station is a ways out of town, but only an 8-Euro cab ride. The taxi dropped us off right in front of the aqueduct, which seems to stretch forever up and in either direction. Bus #11 will drop you off there, as well, after a 20-minute ride.

After a quick lunch while we watched the high school students in assorted versions of togas wrapping up a field trip, we climbed to the top of the aqueduct, marveling at every view.

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Emperor Trajan built the nine-mile aqueduct, which culminated at the Alcazar. Over 2000 years old, 2500 feet of the original aqueduct are visible above ground at the entrance to the old city. It was made from 20,000 granite blocks without mortar and has 118 arches. The aqueduct actually functioned until the 19th century.

From there, we wound our way downhill to Plaza Mayor and toured the cathedral. Dating from the 16th century, the Cathedral of Segovia is considered to be the last Gothic cathedral, with the beginnings of Renaissance style. As with other cathedrals we’ve visited, restoration is ongoing. That’s reassuring, and we’re more than willing to pay admission in order for that to happen.

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Then more walking until the Alcazar loomed in front of us. Magnificent views in every direction. We opted for the (very thorough) audio tour, but passed on the 162 stairs up to the tower. An hour later, and my tourist self was saturated and ready to head home.

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What goes downhill must eventually go uphill, so we trudged back to the aqueduct, wandering along the wall through neighborhoods for a half an hour or so. We stopped in view of the aqueduct to enjoy a pitcher of sangria at El Secreto: a bit expensive at 16 Euros, but hands down the best sangria yet!

 

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Semana Santa

Semana Santa

We planned ahead and picked up a parade schedule from the tourism office. Not much help, though: the list included start time, starting point, ending point, and float(s), but not the actual route. The list of the floats proved to be the most helpful in putting photos into some semblance of order – we were able to figure out which parade was which after the fact.

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We caught the first parade by accident when we left the apartment mid-day Palm Sunday. We were headed to the barrio and La Rambla, but the Hermandad de Jesus Triunfante passed through Plaza Luceros. We watched children and adults wave palms, and grinned as children received candy from parade participants.

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Monday evening, we caught Cofradia Cristo “El Morenet” de los Hombres del Mar passing in front of St. Nicholas Cathedral as we were leaving an early dinner.

Later, we managed to get seats on La Rambla for Hermandad Penitencial and its two floats: Stmo. Cristo de la Humildad y Paciencia and Nstra. Sra. De las Lagrimas.

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The hoods.

The robes.

The mantillas.

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The incense.

We missed Tuesday’s parades because we were in Madrid picking up our friend Roxanne. She was our first visitor, and she had planned her trip to coincide with Holy Week.

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Wednesday we scored seats on La Rambla for Hermandad de La Santa Cruz and its three floats: El Cautivo, Cristo de la Fe “El Gitano”, and Virgen de los Dolores.

The first parade we saw Thursday was an impressive four floats: Santa Cena, Stmo. Cristo de La Caida, Stmo. Cristo Esperanza de Los Jovenes, and Maria Auxiliadora del Pueblo Cristiano. And we caught it right downstairs from our apartment.

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Representatives of the disciples.

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140 carrying each float! Lots of rest breaks, with crews subbing in to carry floats.

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We then followed the sounds to our local church and caught the beginning of another parade and saw the floats salute the open doors of the church.

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Friday night, Rox and Todd saw the ultimate Good Friday parade.

Island of bliss: Mallorca

Island of bliss: Mallorca

Getting there

The Alicante-Elche airport. The only place where Todd is excited to visit Burger King. Not that it’s faster than the other places – it isn’t. Not that it’s cheaper than the other places – it certainly isn’t. It’s just that it’s there. And it seems the thing to do.

It’s always exciting when we don’t have to traipse to the end of the terminal to board our flight. A great start!

In the jetway, we got to visiting with the woman behind us, who had a Yorkie-in-a-Bag. She was making 2 trips to bring her dogs back home from mom’s, then another flight back to Alicante to pick up her car and ride the ferry from Denia to Mallorca. It was too long and too cold for the dogs to have to ride on the deck of the ferry. So: to visit Mom in Alicante, 2 round-trip flights from Mallorca to deliver the dogs, then a flight back to ride the ferry so she could have her car. Then the whole process in reverse when she returns home to Mallorca.

The encounter reinforced our decision to remain dog-free while in Spain.

Hotel

Why wouldn’t we stay at Hotel Feliz in Mallorca? Our honeymoon hotel in Costa Rica was Si Como No.

Hotel Feliz reminded me of a hotel I stayed in once in Key West. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was touted as a hotel for avant garde adults. Maybe it was the purple rugs in the lobby.

It was old, but tastefully, if basically, updated. Easy-care laminate, festive artwork, 7-foot mirror at the foot of the bed. Okay, the 7-foot mirror was more than a bit disconcerting.

But the staff was great, and the common areas were quite fun.

And you have to love a hotel that takes Happy Hour literally: 7-8 nightly.

Our first evening there, as we were getting ready to head out for dinner, the power went out just as Todd opened the patio door. Total darkness in the bathroom, where I had mascara on one eye. Todd brought in his cell phone so I could finish my makeup, then we headed down the stairs for Happy Hour. The power continued to go on and off in the whole neighborhood until we left for dinner, but all was well by the time we returned. The bartender took it in stride, shrugging and pouring drinks with a smile – in the semi-dark!

After touring the Palma Cathedral, we paused for lunch at Bar c’as Caparrut, where we had lunch in the shadow of the cathedral while listening to classical guitar.

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Port de Soller

We missed the train to Port de Soller, so we took the bus, a whopping 4,35 per person. We were 3rd in line, which was good: the last dozen or so didn’t get on. What a ride! 2 lanes with cyclists – we were glad we weren’t driving. We passed enclaves that were not really villages, more like settlements. The whole landscape was terraced to make the land farmable. The white towns of Andalucia have morphed into brown towns: brown buildings with green shutters, except for the occasional rebel who has brown, blue, or red shutters.

 Dining

Dinner our first night was at the suggestion of the bartender: down the block and around the corner toward the marina at Ca’n Manolo. We ordered the salted sea bass. THE salted sea bass – there was only one in the cooler by the front door. It came out mounded in salt. The waiter carved the salt off and expertly filleted the fish. It was enough fish for four people, but we ate all of it, and the perfectly roasted veggies that came with it.

IMG_0651The second night, we followed the hotel chef’s recommendation and took a taxi to the Mercado Gastronomico San Juan, a food court in an old market with a grocery store and movie theater surrounding an outdoor plaza. We made one pass through, then divided to conquer. Shrimp sautéed with lots of butter and garlic, sushi (the best yet in Spain), oysters, assorted tapas, then sushi again. We liked it so much, we went back the next night and repeated the menu.

IMG_1325Our final dinner, again at the recommendation of the hotel chef, was at Rififi Restaurant. The owner took us on a detailed tour of the cooler, then served up oysters, grilled whole peppers, and risotto with lobster.

Mallorca was paradise – and we left much undone – we will return!