After our lesson learned with Toledo, Leigh and I mistakenly carried on an air of pride as if we knew what to do for our next trip. Take the metro to Atocha, buy tickets and catch the train. Easy peasy.
We get to Atocha, only to realize that we were supposed to go to a different train station. After finding out that there was more than one bus station, why didn’t it occur to us that there would be more than one train station? I will leave this question unanswered.
So, from Atocha, instead of hopping back onto the metro, we were able to catch the Cercanías (a regional train, much slower than the Ave) to Chamartín, where we then got off, bought tickets, then hopped back on to get to Segovia. To put train speeds into perspective, the Ave takes 30 minutes, and the Cercanías takes up to 2 hours. The latter, however, goes through a more scenic route and gets us closer to the city center in Segovia.
Neither of us came prepared with a plan nor any sort of guide book. I then took out my Kindle and, with a few clicks, we became well-equipped with The Rough Guide to Spain. Hello, my name is Christine, and I am a recent Kindle-convert.
The aqueduct looks like brick fencing for giants. On one hand, it seems out of place in the midst of roads and passing vehicles (similar to the Colosseum in Rome) and, on the other, it seems magical, a monument constantly reminding the city of its history. A very cute and jolly grandpa (a local) saw us passing by, and stopped to tell us that the stones were held in place not by mortar or concrete but by weight balance, a fact I had read in our guide book. He also told us that the Romans were very intelligent in building the aqueduct and that the Spaniards would not have thought of the process themselves, a fact you probably would not find in a guide book.
We walked up a staircase on one side for a better view of the aqueduct stretching out along the city center. Another cute and jolly grandpa, upon seeing us with our cameras, gestured towards a corner that ended up being a great photo spot. Gracias a todos los abuelos alegres 🙂
Iglesia de San Martín
Before this photo, I took about four other, each of which featured an annoying Asian tourist posing in ill-fitted and/or ill-patterned clothing. Some people should be banned from wearing white pants.
Sometimes I wonder, how could you stand yourself wearing clothing so tight, that your rear and thighs resemble a topographical map of mountain ranges?
A five minute walk later, we reached Plaza Mayor and the enormous cathedral. Although a lot of churches and cathedrals look the same in Europe, this one seemed particularly magnificent among the tiny surrounding terra cotta-roofed houses.
We walked into the above part of the cathedral…or…were we transported to Hogwarts?!?! Okay, maybe not, but a girl can dream :*(
Yes, that is a tear.
Right before entering the Alcázar, we were welcomed by a panoramic view of the Zamarramala area, with Iglesia de la Vera Cruz in the distance. This church was built by the Knights Templar and was said to have had a piece of the true cross (vera cruz). Upon reading this, I suddenly felt like Robert Langdon in the middle of a religious puzzle.
Back to reality, the first cute and jolly grandpa from before told us to trek down there for an amazing view of the Alcázar, a castle so impressive that it inspired Walt Disney’s trademark castle. The entrance only provided a one side view that made the castle look like an ordinary structure. Unfortunately, the two main pathways going downhill were blocked off by construction, and the only other way to get there was too far of a walk. Bah!
So, instead, I offer you an entrance view, a full frontal.
Walking back towards the aqueduct, I realized that there was a bus that went towards Zamarramala. When the bus arrived, we asked the bus driver if it was going in our intended direction. His incoherent response + lack of time drove us off the bus. Bah, again!
To cheer up the mood, Leigh and I went to a nearby cafe for a glass of wine. Losing track of time, we asked for the check too late. In Spain, you should give the waiter an ample amount of time for him to bring you the check at an appropriate snail pace. Believe me, that snail would give you the check the next day if he had the option. And so, we ended up missing our train back and dishing out some more dough to catch the next one. Why do we have such bad luck with transportation? I should throw some salt over my shoulder (and some onto that snail of a waiter), and be done with it all.