I spent the last few days in Spain seeing some unbelievable stuff. I took a quick train ride north to the small, ancient town of Segovia. Collected from quick emails sent from the road, here’s some of my experiences on this incredible trip:
Once I got off the bus from the train station, the town’s main tourist draw was right there. The Romans built a 100 foot tall aqueduct in the year 50. That date is not missing a digit! I saw a couple pics before I arrived but it still was there, right in front of me, standing where it has for almost 2000 years. I walked up and touched it, then followed it as it descended towards the land and was a mere 25 feet tall. Circling back along the aqueduct, I finally entered the city walls that lined Segovia and ascended to look at the arches face to face. It was just nuts.
The city was beautiful – much like Toledo it was a ton of criss crossed cobblestoned ‘roads’ that were varied in width from wide (20’) to narrow (8-9’). All along was a mishmash of stone buildings that followed the histories of Spain – with occupations by the Moors and settlements by the Jews built over partially erased by the conquering Christians. At the far end of the city was the castle that Disney was inspired by when he built Cinderella’s Castle. So I guess everything is fair game in genocide and cultural appropriation.. The city had some amazing views of the surrounding landscapes from its hilltop vantage. Its hard to consider how an invading army would be able to conquer such a city and land, but I guess they had the will to to it.
Segovia Cathedral was built in the late 1500’s and features some incredible Gothic spires with menacing gargoyles. It was a dizzying effect to stare up at the gargoyles on the small streets. It was almost unfair to see such a gorgeous cathedral after seeing the Cathedral in Toledo. The ceiling had insanely complex curves and arches throughout. The cathedral also deceptively opened up into an inexplicably larger space inside than the exterior would seem to allow. Also, continuing the Spanish motif, the depictions of dead Christ were extra bloody.
The Alcazar de Segovia is located on a cliff overlooking the northwestern edge of the city. The views from the park in front of the castle are astounding, and really give a perspective of the age and walls of the city. The texture of the outside walls was hypnotic, and you can see how the blue roofs influenced Disney’s castle. I was tired and hungry, so I loitered outside the castle and soaked up the views. After walking around the grounds, I scurried through the winding streets to find some food.
I took the regional train back to Madrid, and it was incredible. From my initial flight into Madrid the Spanish landscape intrigued me. There were long, desolate roads seemingly going nowhere, surrounded by bunches of whitish rock formations jutting up seemingly at random. Sloping mountains and crazy plateaus punctuated the spaces, dotted by small towns.
The train snaked through the unassuming Sierra de Guadarrama range, which shockingly has a bunch of mountains over 5,000 feet. Being December, more than just the tops were covered in snow and touching the low hanging clouds. I snapped a couple of pictures of the landscape that seriously could have been taken from dozens of sketches I’ve made in my sketchbooks. After seeing just how much ham is a part of Spanish life, I expected to see pigs everywhere. Fields of bulls dominated the livestock – reassuring me of the Spanish love affair with bulls.
I passed a covid test yesterday which clears me to arrive in Lisbon, Portugal tomorrow morning. Here’s all the other stops in my trip, so feel free to read along: