Monday, March 27, 2006

The Many Charms of Segovia

A bit over a week ago, my novio* Daniel came to visit me and we spent a couple of days in the nearby and ever so charming town of Segovia. It is a medieval city, complete with a Roman aqueduct right in the center of town. We could actually see the aqueduct from our hotel (appropriate since it was called the Hotel Acueducto) and anytime people would give us directions, they would use the aqueduct as a reference. It's really interesting how a fairly bustling, though still quaint, town has grown up right around such an old, historic landmark. You can actually go up on top of the city wall, which puts you on a level with the top of the aqueduct, which is where I took this picture. It was very exciting.

Another of Segovia's main tourist stops is the Cathedral, which is huge. I took this picture from the Alcazar (which I will talk about in a second). The big building sticking up from everything is the Cathedral. I have to admit that I have been known to complain a bit about having to visit a cathedral in every European city I visit, and often having to listen to a long spiel about how significant and special it is even though it looks exactly like all the other ones I have seen. BUT this cathedral is quite impressive, even to my eyes, jaded so tragically early. When we were there, a wedding had just finished (I assume it had been held in a side chapel) and all the wedding party was coming out. It was kinda cool to remember that these cathedrals, which sometimes seem more like museums, are still places of worship.

My favorite part of Segovia, aside from the general beauty and charm of the place, is the Alcázar, which is the Arabic name for castle. This one was actually built by Christians (under Isabel and Fernando, the Catholic monarchs, I think), but with tons of Muslim influence in the architecture and ornamentation - a lovely example of mudéjar art! Anyway, they say that this castle inspired Disney in his design of Cinderella's castle. Up close, it is certainly rougher than the fairy tale version, but the resemblance is strong enough that I am willing to believe the story. The tour of the inside is absolutely amazing. My favorite room is this one that has around the tops of the walls statues of like every monarch of the different parts of Spain for, like, hundreds of years. Each one has a description and the seal of their kingdom. It is very interesting, and the artwork is amazing.

One of the most important parts of the Spain experience is, of course, the food. Daniel and I spent quite a bit of time sampling the fine culinary offerings of Segovia, though we were unable to bring ourselves to try the cochinillo (suckling pig) for which Segovia is known. One of the trademark Spanish treats that are not to be missed is, as I have previously stressed, churros con chocolate. They make a great dinner! The coffee here is also, shall we say, distinctive. Though I don't drink coffee, I think it is basically a tiny bit of espresso, to which most people add like twice as much milk. For the extra brave (or stupid) you can drink it straight, from these tiny cups which look ridiculous when held by a normal-sized person.

Our stay in Segovia was made extra authentic by the "macro-botellón" that was supposedly held there on the night of St. Patrick's Day. Botellón is a popular pastime among Spanish young people which basically consists of buying cheap wine and soft drinks in bulk from supermarkets or wherever, then gathering in outdoor parks or plazas to drink in groups. There are specific anti-botellón laws because these gatherings tend to be noisy and messy, and they also often involve underage kids. Anyway, young people in several cities in Spain had apparently arranged a macro-botellón for that night. That evening we saw a bunch of people with plastic bags of drinks, as well as extra police presence, but unfortunately we didn't catch any real botellón action. And I had my camera ready in case there were arrests : )

Anyway, it was a fun trip to Segovia, and I would recommend it to anybody who happens to be in the area!

*completely unrelated sidenote about the word novio: it translates to boyfriend, but I think that it is actually more like the word sweetheart, in that it has all wrapped up in its meaning the concept of romance as well as gender. It is not merely the expression of gender and "friend" which we understand to also convey a "special" relationship. Also it doesn't necessarily indicate youth, as with "boy" or "girl." Interesting example of its usage: my familia informed me that Spaniards often refer to Julia Roberts (who is much less popular here) as "la novia de America" : America's sweetheart.


At 6:34 AM, Blogger Annie said...

I would just like to say that i am consistantly amazed by the amount of information on your blog! It is disconcerting to realize that while I meant to check it to gossip, i end up LEARNING stuff. Man, oh man. Oh, btw, I have recently come to know (via my dad) that the wonderful title of your blog is the title of a very famous (although if I didn't know about it, I don't see how it could be all that famous) Sci-Fi book. Did you do this on purpose, or was it a case of great minds thinking alike? Ok, this was a really long post. I will end it now.

At 11:17 PM, Blogger Amanda Dugan said...

Hey! I haven't posted in a long time and wanted to wish you well :) Like Annie, I am amazed at how much I learn from reading your blog. I can't wait until you return and we can catch up during the summer (Mellow Mushroom trivia? Wicked!)

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Kendra said...

Chicas, you flatter me : ) I hope my posts are not too didactic... I just love to regurgitate (and also reflect on) the lovely things I learn in class...

Oh, and yes I did know it was a famous thing, although I claim no relationship with the sci-fi book, only that it was a phrase I had heard and I thought it was appopriate.


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