Friday, March 6, 2009
(SNOW) Me gusta Segovia!
Today I went on an excursion for my Environment and Society class to Segovia, a small town in the mountains northwest of Madrid. It was absolutely beautiful, but I think we had the worst weather possible! The pass that we would normally use to get to the mountains was closed because of the snow that had fallen this week. So there was snow on the ground AND it was raining. The first "parada" (stop) that we made was at the Presa de Navacerrada, near the large reservoir, which if needed could supply Madrid with water for a year and a half if there were to be a drought. Navacerrada is also known for supplying Madrid with firewood and cattle, things that cannot be grown or raised in Madrid. It was very cold here, the wind was whipping off the water and the rain was falling...The next stop was a small cafeteria to drink a cup of coffee, then to the Bosque, a forest of Scotch Pines. Here, we ate lunch and then attempted to do a 5K hike, but with the snow on the ground and the rain, it was slippery and incredibly cold! I was wearing boots, but my feet were still cold and soaking wet by the end. It was such a shame because the bosque was absolutely gorgeous! I really want to go back when it gets warmer and go hiking! Here, in this region, the altitude is greater, so the type of rock is only granite. That's why the stream was so shallow; because the water is not able to erode the granite as easily as limestone. We got back on the bus and headed to La Granja de San Ildefonso, a community created just for the royal family and their servants. The city was carefully planned and is set-up like a grid (much easier than the medieval cities, such as Toledo and Segovia to navigate!). Here we walked (in the rain) through beautiful gardens, covered in snow. Again, I would love to return during the summer when the fountains are actually on so I can see the true splendor of the gardens! The last stop was Segovia. Finally. By this time we were all exhausted, wet, cold, and ready to go home. But we found some energy! We went first to see the Roman Aqueduct--simply incredible. It was huge! And until 20 years ago, cars would drive under it, through the arches because it was a major road! But now, it's closed off to cars and only open to foot traffic. It's hard to believe they ever let cars that close to this ancient aqueduct! The aqueduct was constructed by the Romans, out of granite, which they brought down from the mountains. You can see little dimples in the stones where they used the cranes to haul the pieces into place--all without concrete. The granite stones are simply stacked one upon the other. Incredible. In Segovia, we also saw the Alcazar Castle, which started off as an Arab fort, but at the end of the 11th century it was conquered by King Alfonso VI. During the Middle Ages, the Alcazar of Segovia was the favorite residence of Kings of Castile. It was beautiful, but closed, so we could not go inside...another reason to return!
It was a long day, and I'm cold and tired...but now I can say I've been to Segovia! :)