Monday, June 9, 2014

Day Trip Madrid--Segovia: Awesome Aqueduct, and Disney Castle

There are two towns near Madrid that are popular day trip destinations for Madrid: Toledo and Segovia. Of the two, Toledo, the town described to be trapped in time, seems to be the more popular one. But when I saw the majestic Roman aqueducts in Segovia, I immediately decided to go there. Some say you just need half a day to see everything, and that might be true, but I spent a whole day there wandering through the streets and just enjoying the wide, dry, hilly Mediterranean landscape and had a wonderful time.

To get to Segovia you can take the bus or the train. I took the bus but here is info for both.


€8.09 one way, about 75 minutes, bus drops you off about 5 minutes away from town center and aqueducts. Leave Madrid from Principe Pio.

Buses run every 30-45 minutes, last bus from Segovia is at 9:30 weekdays or 10:30 weekends. 

There seems to be only one bus company that travels between Madrid and Segovia, it’s not any cheaper if you buy your return ticket at the same time. However, there is the interesting option of “Open Return,” which is perfect for travelers who are not sure when they will want to go back to Madrid. Just take your open return ticket to the bus office and tell them you want to take the next bus to Madrid. Another thing about taking the bus from Madrid, the bus station is underground and was a bit tricky for me to find. There are vending machines you could buy tickets from, but those are not your actual tickets, you will need to take that receipt and go to a window with a real person to get an actual ticket. And make sure you are standing at the right gate, we stood at the wrong gate for a little while because we were misled by our “receipt not ticket.” Looking for the gate with the most tourists might help, but ask anyways, all the people I have met and asked for directions have been very friendly and helpful.

Before my bus ride to Segovia, I had time to pick up this big heart <3 at Principe  Pio stationas a snack for the trip.

About €10.15 one way (the price is different for every train), and takes about 30 minutes. While it’s really fast to get to Segovia, the train station is not in Segovia city center so you will have to take a short bus ride or take a leisurely walk. With my research, it is said it’s a short bus ride and a 15-30 minute walk.

The aqueducts can be easily found since they are so visible, surrounding the aqueduct is a large plaza with many restaurants. The aqueduct was so lovely, and I looked at it from and up close, walked under it, touched it, climbed the stairs to see another view of it. Then after seeing the Alcazar (a.k.a Disney Castle) we walked along the aqueduct to its very end. It was a nice walk that brought us away from the tourists (though Segovia wasn't flooding with them), and it was really quiet probably because it was mostly residence areas and it was siesta time. The exact construction of the aqueduct is somewhat of a mystery, but generally it’s believed to have been built in first century A.D. I have never seen an aqueduct before and I was a very happy girl. The weather was perfect and I had good company.

On pretty much the other side of the town is the Alcazar, and on our way we passed by the Segovia cathedral, the other architecture in Segovia that is too big to miss. It’s the last Gothic cathedral built and Spain and was consecrated in 1768. If I remember correctly we could walk inside the cathedral but there wasn’t anything particularly interesting, although just like all the cathedrals I have visited, it was cool, quiet, and old. But it one of the three main points of interest for Segovia, and it’s so big and tall and very viewable with in the town.

The Segovia Cathedral is something that is very visible anywhere in Segovia. See it? It's that tallest building in this picture.
The Alcazar (Castle) was something that I looked forwarded to see, some people say it was one of the two castles that inspired the Disney castle (along with Neuschwanstein in Germany). I can see where that comes from, the castle has bluish roofs that are similar to the Disney one. 

Discount ticket is €3 for students, kids, and elderly
Normal ticket is €5 for everyone else.
€2 for everyone to climb the tower to reach the high point of the castle.
The Alcazar as seen from within the Alcazar tower
Photo by Kevin Poh. I'm using a creative commons photo here because what I have doesn't capture the whole castle.

There are some rooms you could look at that has fancy castle interiors with really intricate golden detailed roofs, murals, royal beds; also an armory with medieval weapons with a museum like set up. It’s not one of those castles with all of its interiors retained, but it does have a decent amount of castle splendor you can look at, and take pictures too, which is something you can’t do in all the castles with full interior decoration I have visited (eg. Royal Palace in Madrid, or Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna) has some old looking furniture, and the other areas are mostly spacious, and some parts designed to be museum like.

That' some very fancy ceilings you have, sir

I liked walking through the stone made hallways and stairways, it felt very “medieval,” and the scenery out the window was very nice; the Alcazar is on a high point and you see the golden rolling hills outside, very Mediterranean climate and quite Iberian Peninsula. I took special interest in this view because it’s a climate and geography that I am not familiar with. I spent my whole day in Segovia walking all around and just enjoying the city, and now as I write about it it still brings a smile to my face :) There may not be that much to do in Segovia, but it was a beautiful day to enjoy a leisurely day among winding streets, hilly landscape, and I had good company.
Houses of Segovia
Since my friend's tour book say roast pigling is a local specialty, I decided to give it a try. It was crispy on the outside, soft in the inside, easy to cut and I got the meat off the bones with ease.

Look at that terrain, new for sub-tropical girl like me (now living in temperate)
At the top of the Segovia tower, lovely view here. I love the snow capped mountains, and there's the cathedral.

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