Sunday, November 25, 2012

Segovia: Half an Hour

In half an hour... can burn 90 calories by walking
...Rachael Ray can make a meal
...the glass of water you drank is processed through the kidneys can temporarily leave the bustle of Madrid and experience the old world charm of Segovia

In half an hour the high speed train can travel 58 miles from Madrid to reach the small town of Segovia. Leave behind the modernity of Madrid and experience a day getting lost in the maze of cobblestone streets in Segovia. 

The famous landmark of Segovia is the Roman Aqueduct that seems to divide the town in half. The aqueduct is believed to be constructed during the first century A.D and it was used to transport the water from the Fuente Fria river into the town. The massive structure dwarfs the quaint buildings as it towers at 29 meters in height and stretches along Plaza del Azoguejo. Near the aqueduct in Plaza del Azoguejo is the tourism office where you can get the free map of the town.Armed with the free map, the best way to discover Segovia is to walk in its maze of narrows streets. Discover rustic houses, hunt for the best or perhaps budget friendly cochinillo asado (roasted pork suckling - a very close relative of the Philippine lechon) or enjoy the view of the fields outside city walls where Iglesia dela Vera Cruz is located. As you walk along imagine how this city would have looked like during the medieval times and how today you are personally experiencing a part of history.
The Aqueduct

In half an hour, come face to face with the inspiration behind Disney's Cinderella Castle.The Alcazar of Segovia is originally built as a fortress  until it became a royal palace and now a museum. Observe particularly the turrets and the shape of the towers on how they closely resembles the Disney Castle.The ticket cost 4.50 EUR to be able to enter inside the castle and climb the towers to get a good view of the Spanish countryside. 
The Alcazar

In half an hour, relax and enjoy the sights ng Segovia's Plaza Mayor. Yes, they are quite fond of having a Plaza Mayor in every city must be their version of Main Street. Plaza Mayor where you can shop for some souvenirs, get a bite to eat or drink some coffee / hot cocoa. The honey colored gothic structure that dominates a corner of Plaza Mayor is actually a Cathedral and it is believed that this is the last great Gothic cathedral built in Spain. 
In half an hour, indulge in Segovia's famed cochinillo asado or in plain English - roast suckling pig which is very similar to our very own lechon. In Segovia there are three popular "mesons" or restaurant specializing on cochinillo asado: Meson de Candido, Meson de Duque and Jose Maria.But with fame comes the price tag, a serving will take you back at around 40 EUR. Do not despair if you are a budget traveler, with a bit more walking and getting lost and if you are just being lucky getting drenched in a downpour, you will find yourself in a small street of Valdeaguila. Here in this small tavern called Cueva de San Esteban you can enjoy a serving of soup, cochinillo asado with fries on the side, dessert and a choice of wine or water all for 25 EUR. 

Segovia Essentials

From Madrid to Segovia:
Bus: The bus hub is in Principe Pio metro and follow the marking towards the bus terminal.The bus ride is about 1 1/2 hours and  it will drop you off very near the Aqueduct in Segovia.

High Speed (Renfe): Take the high speed train from Chamartin station for a 30 minutes ride to Segovia.From the train station in Segovia Guiomar take the bus (bus 11) to the Aqueduct.
The bus ride from Segovia-Guiomar station to the Aqueduct is around 15-20 mins.Note the bus timings of bus 11 to make sure that you will be able to catch your train back to Madrid.
Train can be booked in Renfe's website:

Tourist Information: Tourism offices are located near the Aqueduct in Plaza del Azoguejo and in the train station in Segovia Guiomar. The personnels in the tourism offices are very approachable and will be more than willing to answer any questions or provide you with correct directions.

What to eat: If you do eat meat - make no excuse because it is a must to try the cochinillo asado for a heart attack inducing goodness (pun intended). Based on your budget, you can splurge by choosing any of the three legendary roasting taverns or still enjoy it on a budget in Cueva de San Esteban (their tortilla is also a must try). On another note, remember that they do eat lunch quite late in Spain and most restaurants will only start serving lunch at 1pm which is the case for Cueva de San Esteban. 

Cueva de San Esteban
15, Valdeaguila

How to go around: Get a free map and walk and walk and walk. This town is best explored on foot and experience getting confused and lost in its narrow streets. 


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