Monday, August 5, 2013

Madrid Day 3: Day Trip to Segovia

Day Trip to Segovia


When I was planning our Spain trip, I have read many great suggestions on day trips from Madrid so it was hard to decide which ones to visit with limited amount of time. I kept adding days and finally made our trip a 3 weeks trip, yea used up all the vacation days I have earned in the year LOL! There are so many UNESCO World Heritage sites around Madrid that could easily be done with a day trip! After reviewing those sites, my top 5 were: Toledo, Segovia, Avila, El Escorial, and Aranjuez. But since we only had 3 days for day trips, we picked Toledo, Segovia, and Avila!

First day trip: Segovia! We purchased the train tickets online, we didn't pick the discounted tickets because it wasn't that much of a difference since it was around 10 euros single trip per person but the full priced ticket gave the flexibility to make changes. I booked the 7:38 am train arriving at 8:05 am to get a head start before tour groups arrive!  Note that the trains to Segovia departed from Chamartin train station not Atocha. To get from Chamartin, we walked to Atocha and took the Cercanias train to Chamartin station. Cercanias train is faster than metro only takes 13 minutes and stopped only a few stops.  Make sure you purchase the ticket on the right machine, there are two types one for the metro and one for Cercanias train! Both have English menu so won't be hard to navigate. You'll only need to select the destination station name and it will show the price. We found out that the Cercanias train also stopped at Sol so on the return trip, we'll stop at Sol, closer to our hotel!

Chamartin is not as big as Atocha so it's easier to navigate. There were two big display boards that show the train number, destination, and departing platform. Sometimes the departing platform number showed up 15 minutes prior to departure but don't worry you'll have time to go down the escalator and have your luggage x-ray (very fast process) and board the train!  Our coach wasn't that full and the ride was very quick around 30 minutes ride only! When we arrived Segovia train station and walked out, we were in the middle of no where.  I am serious, it's really located in the middle of no where LOL!  Picture of the station below......walk straight out and there is a small bus stop.


Two bus lines stopped at this station and the line that took us to the town center is Line 11 so double check! There is no bus schedule posted....well there is one semi-hand-written LOL. Our train arrived at 8:05 so we just missed the 8:10 bus!


Oh one thing I forgot to mention, we chose Segovia on Monday instead of Toledo because I heard that many museums will be closed on Mondays in Toledo while Segovia majority of the sites are open o Mondays! The bus came, the bus ticket was around 1 euros each if I remembered correctly and the last stop of the bus is at front of the famous Roman Segovia Aqueduct! That is also where you can catch the bus back to the train station!  Also take a photo of the return bus schedule because sometimes the next bus is an hour away! We didn't so we came back to take it haha, here it is the return bus schedule:


OMG here's the famous Segovia Aqueduct!  I never seen a Roman aqueduct before in my life so it was a unique experience!


I made the right choice once again to arrive early although many shops and even the tourists office are still not open (tourists office opens at 10 am) but it gave us many opportunities to have the town ourselves and free to take photos without annoying tourists blocking the views hahahaha!

We walked through the Aqueduct and turned right to walk up. It gave a very nice view of the town as well as the Aqueduct! Here we are at the Segovia Aqueduct!




The town itself has its charm as well!


The only disadvantage of being early is that the light is "harsh" so it gives a very hard shadow on photos. The colors will be darker than photos taken in the late afternoon!


Since the tourists office opens at 10 am and we didn't print out any maps beforehand, we really had no clue which direction to take to Segovia Cathedral. But quickly we figured it out! When you walked through the Aqueduct, there are three main roads, take the one on the right side: Calle Juan Bravo and it'll get you to the Segovia Cathedral. It was quiet and we started to see the arrival of tour groups! On our way to the Cathedral, we walked pass the Church of St. Martin:


Segovia Cathedral! It was huge! 



The details were unbelievable!


A tour group was in front of us and they took turns taking photos at the front of the cathedral. We were waiting for our chance and within minutes they left! They didn't went in the cathedral! That was one reason why we tried not to join a tour since majority are rush!  We went in the cathedral, it was only 3 euros each! 

The interior of the cathedral is very beautiful in gothic style! I like the columns and how they joined together! Very hard to imagine this was built almost 500 years ago, how in the world back in the days without machines to even make those huge tall columns and put them together? Amazing architecture!



Not much people in there so it was very easy to take photos, it was totally worth the 3 euros!




After the Cathedral, we continued our way to the Alcazar. Before going into the Alcazar, there is a sightseeing platform on the right side of the entrance to the Alcazar, be sure to stop by to have a great view of the plains:


And a picture with the view of course!


When looked down, it was a sudden drop of hundreds of feet down! Walking in through the gate, the trees covered the view but I can see the castle!!! I have heard that the Alcázar of Segovia is one of the inspirations for Walt Disney's Cinderella Castle (the other one is the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany which we had visited last year!).


The castle....from this side of the view, it didn't look too much like the Cinderella Castle but I have seen photos taken from the other side that looked very much alike!  I wished I had a chance to see the other side, which is on the bottom of the mountain, need to drive in order to get a view from that side!



Still, another fairy tale dream came true :) I wish one day I could visit all the great castles in the world hehe!


Tickets can be purchased on a separate building on the left of the castle, 6.5 euros per person cash only!! There is a restroom in the ticket building/cafeteria which cost 50 cents euro to go in but wait because there are free restrooms inside the castle!!

Entrance to the castle is a bridge, if you looked down, you realized you are at a cliff! Talking about defense, it's a perfect location to build this castle! Inside the castle walls, very unique style to Segovia housing where their walls have a unique pattern to it:


We walked around and entered all the rooms we could enter, it was a fun experience to explore the castle.  This is more like a fort than a palace....well it was a royal palace, then converted to a prison (probably the nicest prison lol), then a military academy.


The patterned wall...we actually saw a few houses under construction along the way and they created those patterns by putting a layer of cement, flatten it, stamped a model of the pattern there, then took it out and scrap off any excess cement!


We went upstairs and walked out to a terrace, here you can see another side of Segovia.  We walked on the castle walls to the watch tower (no entrance) and it really gave us the castle feel :)



Then we walked back in and into another section where there are interior rooms.  


I guess this section was from the royal palace!


Mosaic tiles wall:


Another palace room:


Pretty stained glass window:


The Throne Room:


Some armories...urg hubby definitely having a great time posting with them LOL:


Afterwards, we walked back to the entrance and enter through a separate entrance to climb the tower!  It was tall and the stairs are narrow and dark but it was manageable!  We saw a couple bought their three kids: one around 3-4 years old, one just learned how to walk around 1-2 years old, and one infant! We watched them coming down, the dad carrying the infant while the mom hold both kids walking down!  If the little kids can do it, it really wasn't that hard :)

From the top of the tower, it offers a great view of Segovia and its Cathedral!


The other side was completely like a desert (well it was dry grass/hay covered the ground)! Can tell it is a dry climate place.


On the top of the tower, big area to go around and have wonderful views of Segovia:


Looking down from the tower to another section of the castle:


After the castle, we walked back down and went back to the center of the town for lunch. We passed by again the beautiful Segovia Cathedral!  Now, it was past noon so the color stands out more in the photo:


The major shopping street straight to the Segovia Aqueduct. If you are feeling thirsty, be sure to stop by Carrefour supermarket for drinks for less.  A bottle of cold water is less than 50 cents euro and a bottle of soda is 1 euro! I can't tell you how many times we went in and out of that market to get drinks LOL it was hot out! The cashier lady probably think "what are those two Chinese doing coming in and out?" hahahahaha! There was one time we went in bought two bottles of drinks, went out, drank the whole bottle within a minute, and then went back in again to get another bottle!


Segovia houses' walls are so unique!


We walked to a Chinese restaurant for lunch....yea after 2.5 weeks, we missed Chinese food (primarily stir-fried vegetables since we ate too much meat dishes in Spain!) The restaurant name is Chino Hong Kong, it was pretty hidden but the entrance looked like a Chinatown Gate! Their menu have a lot of choices and pretty cheap too compared to other restaurants in central Segovia. Our lunch bill came to be 20.45 euros with few dishes of food, soup, and drink! The taste wasn't bad at all, not tourist trap place!

After lunch, hubby decided to take the back road so we ended up walking up the hill!!! For sure we burned all the calories we ate during lunch! One of the stairway we had to walk up, photo was taken after we walked up!


Casa de los Picos "The House of the Points", that's how its named:


We didn't have specific place to visit since we visited the major sights.  So hubby explored the back roads and we saw more unique patterned walls:


I like the flower patterns of this house!


We went back to the Roman Aqueduct to get a map to see if there are other point of interests. And of course more photos of the Roman Aqueduct! It was now the afternoon so the lighting wasn't as harsh as early morning but more people. 


It was too clear of a sky, it would be much prettier if with blue sky and white fluffy clouds!


Doesn't this looks like a sunglasses ad? hahaha!


From the map, we walked down to the outer edge of town to see its city walls. The road coming down:


Some remains of the city wall:


One side is the residential houses while the other side is the old city wall, very interesting contrast:


City wall and the tower:


We continued along the city wall and ended up found this place, it was next to the Segovia Alcazar. Here you see locals' gardens in this pot of land on the bottom:


The castle on the back:


From there, we turned around and walked to the other side of Segovia. We passed many small roads!


We saw this luxurious home...wish this is my home with great view and a big pool!  I want to jump in that pool on this hot weather!


The monastery: 


Statue of San Juan de la Cruz:


Another church tower:


We ended back to the Roman Aqueduct. Segovia is not a huge town so it can be easily navigated by foot!



We walked to the bus stop and try our luck...but the next bus is in another 20 minutes!!! This is one of the times that there's more than an hour in between the next bus! I booked a late train, at 8:12pm, back to Spain so we have plenty of time if we missed the bus. The bus already parked there but the driver left to take a break and it left exactly at 5:20 pm! We got back to the rail station before 6 pm so I went in the ticket office to see if we can switch an earlier train. Since our tickets are full priced tickets, we were able to change or ticket without extra fees. We took the next train and got back to Madrid by 7 pm!

After we got off the train, we had no clue which Cercanias train to take back to Puerta del Sol, I went in the ticket office and asked. The officer said any train from platforms 2 or 3. We walked up to the ticket machine and purchased our ticket (good that we did!) and went in a train from platform 2.  Although no ticket is needed to get in the platform nor to get into the train but once arrived at Sol, getting out of the train station requires a valid ticket!! So don't save a few euros and be caught with a fine!

The moment we stepped out of Sol station, it was hot! I mean hot as in you can see the heatwaves raising up from the road! Did I mentioned already that the hottest time of the day in Madrid is not noon, instead it's around 5pm-7pm after the whole day the road been heated by the hot burning sun? We walked along the way to get back our hotel and hoping to be able to find a restaurant we like to have our dinner.  We picked Le Mario by its 9.5 euros menu! Le Mario is a grill-pub restaurant, we sat at the bar table and watched the waiter/cook grilled our food :)


Grill is ready!


A big piece of freshly grilled sausage!


Here came my ribs and baked potato:


It was a good deal set dinner!  For desert, I chose the vanilla ice cream, and the waiter made a drink on the house for us. It was mango smoothie with alcohol...too bad I don't drink!  Hubby drank it and he said was very good!


We went back to our hotel, very tiring by now after a full day of walking but it was totally worth it. Segovia is a very beautiful town worth to spend a day to explore! 


4 comments:

  1. Great blog-Seems like I get more info from a good blog with photos,then I do from links,forums,or even videos.Nice pictures, what camera do you use?

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    1. Thank you! I use a Canon 5D Mark III.

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  2. Passing through and saw your lovely shots of Segovia. I lived there during the. summer of 73 with a Spanish family under a program for college students. Loved every minute.

    Mark Días

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    1. Thank you! Segovia is such a lovely place, I wished I have a chance to live there :) My site has moved, please visit www.missvacation.wordpress.com for my latest trip reports.

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