Sunday, 13 January 2013

Segovia: A Fairy Tale Castle, Antonio Machado and the 1€ Tour

Madrid by itself is beautiful and vibrant but I think the thing that makes me appreciate it more is how one can escape the city's buzz so easily: Take a 40 minute train ride and you can be somewhere pastoral and distinctly different.

This weekend, it was Segovia for us. Segovia is known for these:

The ancient Aqueduct, built in 50 AD. Amazing how something this old still stands as the city's landmark thousands of years after it was erected.

The Alcazar of Segovia (Alcazar means Castle in Spanish)
This beautiful castle is one of the inspirations of Disney's Cinderella Castle in Florida's Magic Kingdom and Japan's Tokyo Disneyland.

Seeing these old architectural wonders, I wish that old structures (Spanish inspired or otherwise) in the Philippines were also restored for the future generations to see. For in fact, being in structures such as these, it is easier, far more pleasurable for us to ingest history.

For those who plan to go to Segovia from Madrid, know that there are two trains to Segovia from Madrid. There is the fast AVI train which only takes 30 minutes and costs about 24€ return. Or the slower regional train which takes 1.45 hours from Madrid to Segovia and costs only about 12.5 0€. We bought the cheaper tickets haha, it took far longer, but we were rewarded by fleeting images such as this:

Segovia, if you follow what we did, is a relatively cheap excursion. From the Segovia Station, we took the no. 8 bus to the Aqueducts for only 1€. At the Aqueduct, there's a tourist information center where you can get maps and other information. The information officer advised us to consider walking around the old city instead of our plan to take a tour bus since the old city itself is not too big, so that's what we did.

Images from our walking tour around the city:

Beautiful, ornate walls

The cathedral in Segovia

Vista of the surrounding land

The beautiful Alcazar
We went inside the Alcazar (Entrance Fee: 4€) . The castle's interior is as ornate as its beautiful facade: golden and intricately carved ceilings, an armory room and halls of beautiful paintings.

From the Alcazar, we stumbled upon something that I vowed to see in Segovia. I prepared well and savored these lines on the train to Segovia:

Traveller, there is no path
Everything passes on and everything remains,
But our lot is to pass on,
To go on making paths,
Paths across the sea.

This is the first line from a poem by Antonio Machado. One of my favorite poets, and this is why I was so happy:

This is Antonio Machado's casa-museo in Segovia where he lived for a bit. I always wanted to visit the places where my favorite writers lived in, to find something about their daily lives, to see where their brilliant words took their first forms. And so, though the casa was closed, I was still beyond happy to have stumbled upon Antonio Machado's former casa.

Segovia is very welcoming. The old city has souvenir shops, but the shop keepers are not touristy and do not holler out to get clients. Which makes looking around very relaxed and stress-free. I bought my Segovia souvenirs from the shop in Alcazar:

A Segovia decorative plate for my mother's collection (12€)

A pretty, brocaded lined paper note book for myself (19€).It is expensive but I certainly deserve the best paper I can afford, so I can be more inspired to jot down ideas and plans.

We took our very late lunch at a restaurant in the old city's center. We got the menu for the day (menu del dia) and as always, the food was good and the price reasonable.

Russian Potato Salad + Beef Steak and french fries + Creme Caramel = 12.50€ value for money lunch

By the time we finished our late lunch it was four PM, with a little over two hours before we have to catch our train to Madrid.

We walked around the Aquaduct and espied on the the electric bus (Line 9). I knew that the Line 9 bus goes around all the major tourist spots in Segovia, so we decided to hop on it. The Line number 9 electric bus is small and only carries 10 persons max. And we would find out later that it was made this way so it can navigate through the small streets of the old city.

Because we were the only passengers in the bus, the kind driver put on his tourist guide mode and pointed to us in the tourist spots and the restaurant where good conchinillo is served. It was really a heartwarming experience, because the 40 minute bus ride allowed us to go around the route we earlier trudged in for three hours with an enthusiastic bus driver for our tour guide, and guess how much the bus ride was? 1€. I kid you not.

After the bus ride, we were back at the Aqueduct trying to figure out what to take after missing the Number 8 bus to the train station. Then out came our kind electric bus driver/tour guide to the rescue! He figured out that we were looking for the bus number to ride to the station and he suggested we take bus number 1 and walk for about 5 minutes to the station. How kind is that? I really appreciate how kind and helpful Spanish people are. We often get lost while walking from one attraction to another but it is never a problem because it is easy to ask for directions in Spain. People are approachable and will help you as much as they can.

So that's beautiful Segovia: castles, aqueducts, my favorite poet and a 1 € bus tour. All tied up with the easy hospitality and kindness of the Segovianos.

I realize that there are travelers who research like hell and make concrete travel schedules before embarking on journeys, and there are those like me, who read just a bit about the place, puts on her travel vibe, and goes through her travels with a prayer, a smile and the readiness to get lost and find her way out. I get lost a lot of times, but that to me, is the fun inevitable part in traveling.


  1. Another great post about a place in Spain. I'm so jealous of you living there. I've been told by friends who have been to Spain that it's easy to recognize colonial roots in the country. I should really save up for this trip.

  2. HI Maita! Thanks for reading my Spain posts! Cheers! When you come visit Spain do let me know! Let's see each other :-)

  3. Si manong driver ba yung guwapo?=)


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