Saturday, November 28, 2009

Segovia

Hi everyone. I just got back from a day trip in Segovia. It was a program trip, so most of the students in the program were there. As usual, we met at the Rubén Darío metro stop outside the Instituto Internacional at 9:30 am. From there, we took a bus to Segovia. It only took like an hour to get there.

The first thing we saw was the giant aquaduct. (el acueducto) It was so cool! Tons of arches, very big. Neat looking. Check out my facebook pictures. 728 meters long and 29 meters tall. Multiply by 3 if you want that to mean something. The info sheet we got said that there are 88 arches. Water doesn't run through it anymore, and it hasn't since 1928, probably to preserve it. Really cool!! The thing with the arches in the background is the aquaduct.

After that, we went to see a romanesque church - iglesia románico de San Martín. I think this was the one that used to by a synagogue. Basically, there are no temples left. Well, there might be one hiding somewhere, but I can't find it. They've all been converted to churches. Since the Jews were kicked out of Spain in 1492 by Queen Isabel (she sucks), there wasn't any need for temples anymore, and they people left had no need to preserve them. The only thing left in the building now is a cross. No Mom, it is not a "t" for temple, either.
The church said it was closed to turists, but Amalia is super-awesome, and somehow managed to convince them to give her the key and let us in anyways.
Later in the day we had a choice to go to the cathedral or to see what used to be the Jewish section. I've seen enough cathedrals to last for the rest of my life, so I decided to go see the Jewish section. All that is left there is the arch under which the Jews met before their departure from Spain when they got expelled. It was kind of sad.

Después, we browsed around the Plaza Mayor there. Lots of restaurants, tourist shops, and a gazebo. We took a group photo at the gazebo. While Sima decided to scour the tourist shops for a cheaply priced shot glass, I realized that I am sick of tourist shops since they all sell the same things. So I went wandering around down the little streets. I saw a bunch of clothing stores and beautiful sights, so obviously I took lots of pictures. It was nice.

The main event of this daytrip was our substitute Thanksgiving lunch. We ate at Restaurante José María - they have great food! We started eating at 1:45 pm and finished at 4:30 pm. Ray told us that we'd be eating in the Spanish style...aka a 2 hr and 45 min long lunch. Instead of turkey, we ate the Segovian typical celebration food - cuchinillo. Well, cuchinillo is a baby pig that gets cooked so you can still see it's face (and eyes) and all that...so some of us didn't eat it. Sorry, I didn't take any pictures of the mutilated pig; I couldn't even look at it. I ordered salmon, which I could really eat after the whole pig "event". Here's the cuchinillo story:

So, cuchinillo is a dead baby pig. It is supposed to be cooked so perfectly that you don't need a knife to cut it. The edge of the dish is supposed to be sufficient to cut it. They bring out the entire pig on a platter and then chop it up to serve it to people. Many of us didn't want to see them chop off one leg at a time, and the head, and all the ribs, so some people left the room. I couldn't get out from where I was sitting, so I just turned around figuring I just wouldn't watch. Then I heard the loud chopping sound of a knife snapping the bones of this little pig. Grossed out yet? Then the knife came down again, and again, and again...etc. Finally it ended.

I had no appetite left for my salmon, but I got over it. Well, I was over it until the girl sitting next to me was served a leg of the pig. Not like a chicken leg either that you buy in a package. This leg still had a foot attached. I think she got part of the tail too. Amalia came over to visit our table and told us that the tail was a delicacy... I don't like to judge other people's traditions, but this was really gross. I don't think my vegetarian friends enjoyed this experience that much...lol. Anways, cuchinillo is their celebratory food for special occasions.

Then to prove that the pig was cooked well, and that it wasn't just on a special dish, they have the person with the closest birthday hold up the dish and drop it on the floor, shattering it into pieces. I sort of had to lean back since I was seated really close and didn't want glass in my face. They don't really pick up the glass pieces either...it's a little different.

Ok, so onto the rest of lunch. The appetizers were great. See pictures. I really liked the leeks with red peppers. I'm not entirely sure what a leek is, but it didn't look like the baby pig, so it must be okay. They had this other fantastic appetizer - potatos and eggs and some super seasoning. So, I ate the potatoes. yum. This photo is of the leeks.

Dessert was the best. Some sort of bread/shell/cone thing with a scoop of turron ice cream and a scoop of vanilla - and warm chocolate poured over the top. :-) I also had a little cake thing - it's a traditional Segovian pastry. I can't remember the name, but it's a dense, crumbly, little cinnamon cake with powdered sugar on top. Yum!!! It is tiny - about one inch diameter, except that it's oval shaped, so that description is bad. But you get the idea. In any case, it tasted great.

While eating lunch, there was an entire thunderstorm. We were in the restaurant for so much time that we missed the entire storm. And it was dark out when we eventually left the restaurant too.

After lunch, we went to the Alcázar - a governement building. It's the best defense point for the city because it's built where two rivers meet. So basically, you can see who ever is coming in to invade your city long before they arrive. The Alcázar was so beautiful. It had some of the most elaborate ceilings I've ever seen, and they were all different from each other. Lots of suits of armor hanging around, furniture from the 1400s, super cool walls and ceilings, it was great. Like most places here, the king's bedroom had a window to see into the church so he could participate in mass from his bed if he was sick. Apparently religion was really important.

After that, we hopped back on the bus and returned to Madrid.

1 comment:

  1. Well, Dana, I am all caught up on your blogs. I started with Paris, so if you want to see my first comments in the past few weeks, that's where to start!

    Oh - and I think a leek is a root vegetable, but I'm not sure!

    Love you!

    Aunt Beth

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