Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Segovia, Spain

We are taking a day trip to Segovia today, to see the ancient Roman aqueduct and stroll the city streets.  I also have a special place picked out for lunch.

This is an easy day trip from Madrid.  We take the subway to the train station, and then take the train to Segovia, where the station is situated several miles out of town.  

 It looks pretty rural to me.  Like we're out in the cow pastures. 

Mr. C has read the blogs, and knows that we can catch Bus #11 out front for just 1 euro each, and it will drop us at the heart of town.

Evidently we're not the only ones who have read those travel blogs.  The bus is crowded, it's standing room only.

But sure enough, all goes as planned, and by mid-morning we are standing in awe at the site of this amazing Roman aqueduct, built at the end of the 1st Century AD, and in use until late in the 19th Century.

Of course we have to climb to the top ~ where the view is always the best.  It's one of our travel rules.   This reminds us of why we go to the gym every we don't miss out on sights like this ~  

 And sights like this ~

Mr. C (the builder) keeps telling me, "And they didn't use any mortar.  There's no mortar holding all this up.  Did you get a shot of the arch to show that there's no mortar ~ these blocks are just cut to  fit together perfectly ~ without any mortar." 

So here you go.  

The No Mortar shots.  

It is pretty incredible, actually.   

Afterwards we stroll the town, it's little walkways and alley ways and narrow winding streets are all quite charming.

 We always enjoy a "working" village, as opposed to just a tourist attraction.  You can see that, while some of these folks are visiting, many of them actually live and work here.  We like that vibe.

 I think this all looks yummy.

And I have no questions about what they sell here, do you?

And of course, every burg of consequence has it's Cathedral.  Segovia is no exception.

It's always a breathtaking and somber moment for me when I enter these great Cathedrals.

 And most burgs of consequence have a castle as well.  It's always at the top of the hill, by the way.  

When the Fitbit says we've walked 10 miles that day, I don't think it's giving us enough vertical credit.

This one had some cool stained glass, as well as some really beautiful artifacts.  


I'm told this is a saddle chair, which will fold up very handily, and was used by ladies on horseback.  I might need to get one for my horse.  Or my elephant.  Or maybe even my camel.

 This Alcazar dates back to the 12th Century, but had to be largely rebuilt following a fire in 1862.  I thought it was unusually "cozy" for a castle.  Not the typical cavernous (cold) rooms, more smallish and, yes, cozy.  

Next, we head off to lunch at a place that is legendary.  I read about it in the book, "1,000 Places to See Before You Die", a travel guide that I highly respect (gotta' get the older version, though, the new one is......well, it's sort of like a travel blogger who sold out to advertising).  Anyhow ~ 

This family-owned place has been serving suckling pig for 3 generations.  (I apologize to my vegetarian friends, please avert your eyes and ears).   

It reminds me of a place we went to in a little village in Italy, where the gma's did the cooking, the adult "kids" ran the restaurant, and the grandkids were the ones who waited on us.  Memorable!


So I'm very excited about having lunch at Meson de Candido.  And it turns out not to disappoint.  The pork was excellent, so was the Sangria, all within in the shadow of the amazing arches of the aqueduct.  Wow!

But here's where the story gets good.   I have read that this family is 3 generations deep, taking great pride in serving their customers their time-honored traditional recipes.

I know this picture of a picture is not very good, but it's integral to the story, so......Here's the 3 generations -- Gmpa, his son, and his two sons.

We are now finished with our wonderful lunch, and I am poking about taking a few photos, which is my custom.  Evidently I have made the manager nervous.  He approaches me and graciously asks if he can be of assistance.   Translated, in any language, that is, "Who the heck are you and why are you casing my joint?" 

I explain that we have just enjoyed a lovely meal on the patio, and I am simply taking a few pictures for my Trip Advisor reviews, which is what I normally do when I've enjoyed a place that I want to share with others.  

To his credit, his demeanor changes instantly.  He asks if I have been inside, and I answer in the affirmative.  He asks if I have been "upstairs" (like it's a secret), and I answer that I have not. 

So it's "Come-come" and off we go.  He hauls me up the stairs,  and turns me over to a well-dressed gentleman who is wearing some kind of banner or sash or some-such garnishment.

This kindly older gentleman immediately takes charge of me.  He physically takes my camera from me and hands it to the young lady behind the desk.  He starts writing on a booklet of some kind, and she is snapping pictures with my camera.  I am bewildered, but I figure he must be some kind of dignitary.........or something, right??  Besides, he's pretty old, and I do not want to be disrespectful. 

So I even pose for a picture with him.  Still no clue.

Then, the light slowly dawns........

Three generations, he's the Papa!

Ahhh, it's all coming together now. 

He has actually autographed one of their booklets for me, it includes (you're not gonna' believe it) ~ it includes their famous recipes!  All of the following:

Large White Beans from La Granja with Pig's Ear and Foot
Castilian Soup of the 15th Century
Baked Lamb in the Fashion of Sepulbeda
Shepherdess-style Lamb Casserole
And (yes, ladies and gentlemen, the actual) Baked Piglet

Now, admittedly, while I am very excited to have these timeless recipes, and Mr. Candido's actual autograph, I am well aware that there are a couple of issues here.  Like -- where am I going to get a 21 day old suckling pig?  Or a half a lamb that is small enough to fit into the clay pot that I don't own and wouldn't know where to buy?  

 Needless to say, I will not be making this anytime soon.  But what a treasure!   Mr. Candido shows me the rest of the restaurant, which is totally charming,  including an autographed crest of sorts, signed by Kings and Queens, Emperors and Empresses, member of different Royal Houses, Heads of State, Politicians, Ambassadors, Nobel Prizes (their words); and Artists of all kinds who honored the place with their presence and left their own memento.   I was duly impressed.

But I think that what I loved most about this whole experience was this ~  In the introduction of this lovely brochure commemorating this family's contribution to this community is this memo:

"This is a token of your visit to our historic city, which is world heritage.  The fact that you have honoured this old inn with your presence deserves the reverence and appreciation of the family."

And it's signed, by Mr. Candido,
"Head Innkeeper of Castile", 
In the very noble and very loyal 
City of Segovia (Spain) 
on this 22nd day of the month of September 
in the 2014 Year of Our Lord. 

And this is why we travel.


  1. I felt as if I was right there with you while you were swept away upstairs in the restaurant! So exciting and such a great experience! Hundreds of dining guests yet he took the time to embrace you and give you that one on one time!

    The aqueduct system is so interesting! Buildings built with no mortar and are still standing! The pictures you shared tell the story of your day! I love the chicken and egg display. The spectacular and grand buildings! Thank you for sharing this day!

    1. Thanks, KS ~ this is exactly what I would hope for. Half the fun of having the experience is sharing the experience. We learned allot on this trip ~~ I had no idea that there was so much Roman history and ruins in Spain. We saw several old Roman bridges (in Salamanca & Rhonda); remains of an old amphitheater (Malaga), several well-preserved "digs" of ancient towns (Barcelona and Madrid) and this spectacular example of Roman workmanship in Segovia ~~166 double-tiered arches connected without mortar, surviving for more than 2,000 years!

      And after that time period comes the Moors ~~ I did not realize that Spain had a Muslim history as well. I'll be sharing our visit to Arcos de la Frontra, an old Arab town that we visited when driving in the south of Spain, and of course the La Mezquita in Cordoba ~~ the cathedral that has been a place of worship for Catholics and Muslims. Who knew?! It was a very educational, as well as enjoyable, trip.

      But you know how much I love the personal connection, so Mr. Candido was really a treat for me. Couldn't have made that one happen if I'd tried, it was a delightful surprise to have that situation "find" me! They take such pride in serving their community, it's almost a royal decree. I've never seen anything like it. "Anyone honouring this house with their presence, regardless of their nationality or social status, is worthy of the respect and of all kinds of courtesies to which Castilian hospitality is obliged." This, of course, stems from the very real tradition of an inn serving as an oasis to weary travelers, where no one was ever turned away. Out of the many such inns and lodgings and restaurants, Meson de Candido is the sole survivor from that time period (late 1800's). And you really do feel as though you've stepped back in time......It was a great day in Spain!


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