Friday, October 9
Drove more than 400 K. from Seville to Segovia, north and west of Madrid. The weather and high speed road were good all the way. Took a couple of pictures of the aqueduct built by the Romans in the first century.
Decided not to do any sight seeing today, just scoped out the city and visited the TI and then drove to our hotel in a town about 10 K. from Segovia. Great sunset.
Saturday, October 10 Segovia
Arrived at the TI for the 10:30 tour of the city in English only to find out that the guide was sick and the tour canceled. Rented the audio guide which had 3 routes on it and followed the route described for most of the day. Segovia is a beautiful medieval city on the river with a castle on the hill and a very large church.
Segovia was settled by the Romans in the first century B.C. (Sound familiar?) and thrived as a city throughout the Roman era. Then it went through the cultural, political, economic and other adjustments of Visigoth, Christian, Muslim, and finally Christian at the time of Ferdinand and Isabel. Some of its houses date to the 15th century.
The aqueduct is the one remaining Roman monument. It is outstanding and still functions, although in a very limited way. The joints between the blocks of granite are dry, that is there is no cement or mortar holding them together, just the skill and craftsmanship of the architects and masons some 2000 years ago.
There are hundreds of arches in this small section of the structure that remain intact. It is awesome in both size and breadth. Seeing it was worth the drive. The palace (Alcazar) and churches including the cathedral pale in comparison.
Sunday, October 12
A cloudy, rainy, dreary day. Decided to take the scenic, monastery/convent/wine country route to Burgos rather than the swift super highway and soak in some more of what Spain has to offer.
The weather is changing and the leaves on some of the trees are turning mostly gold with a few red sprinkled in.
Just after the above pictures were taken we saw a congregation of vultures flying and enjoying the air above us. On further examination saw a cliff with perhaps 20 or 30 more vultures standing on high.
Stopped at the Monastery de la Cid. We took the Spanish only tour led by a cleric, as this was the only way to see it. Most of the time was spent in the chapel/church which is the spiritual home to about 80 priests. The monastery dates back to the 15th century. It is one of many in the area. It seems almost austere when you enter, but once inside, it is anything but austere.
Moved on from there via the scenic route and tried to see another monastery, but it must have been nap time for them. Ate in a very small village whose palace was on siesta until much later in the day so settled for the ruined castle on the hill (every village has one.)
It is really intriguing how these beautiful and very functional structures fell into disuse when bigger and better weapons were invented and were left to crumble or were destroyed by their conquerers because they represented a religion or practice that the conquerors did not like or thought was against their own religious beliefs. (This has been going on for millennia and continues today.)
Today is Sunday and tomorrow is a nationwide holiday in Spain celebrating the accomplishments of Christopher Columbus and has no religious significance. There are no parades or speeches or any other activities to honor C.C. Sunday is always a holiday with few shops or anything else for that matter open. Everybody seems to take advantage of the day off and the Saturday before and drive to the better places, walk around, go to the bars/tapas places and enjoy not working. Loads of people milling about till after midnight.
We arrived at our hotel in Burgos about 4 p.m., checked in and unloaded then Ed drove the car back to the rental place and returned to the hotel by bike. We walked around a little bit getting our bearing, locating the walking street, the TI, cathedral and Plaza Mayor.
Monday, October 13 Burgos
Walked to the cathedral bright and early, and rented the audio guide for assistance. It was very informative and well done. It was easy to follow the sequence and find the places and objects that were discussed. The cathedral is large and ornate.
Most of it was built in the 16th century. The side chapels were built and paid for by wealthy families for thanks to God for something or other, for a place to be buried and to show off their wealth. Mission accomplished.
Although the weather was threatening when we went into the Cathedral, it had deteriorated and got worse shortly after we left. Then it started to pour. We were fortunate that we were indoors when the worst came and were able to avoid getting soaked.
Although museums and some other places of interest all over Europe are usually closed on Monday, the Evolution Museum in Burgos was open.. We had our lunch there and toured the museum with the assistance of an audio guide again.
The museum is the result of the discovery in the 1970’s at a sight 12 K. from Burgos of the remains of our paleoentological ancestors who lived in the region more than 1 million years ago. The find is incredibly valuable and the research and excavations are still going on. They have found thousands of significant pieces and part of various objects including bone and skulls. This discovery was heralded world wide for its archeological value. The Museum of Evolution details the evolutionary progression to humankind from our the creatures of more than 1 million years ago to our current anatomical state and traces the transition of both plants and animals as well. It covers 4 floors with the explanations in Spanish and English. We returned to the hotel, put the front racks back on our bikes and prepared for tomorrow when we start our 600 k. ride to Barcelona.