Segovia

Segovia Aqueduct

Today is a early start. I need to take the metro to the Madrid-Chamartín train station to catch my train to Segovia for today’s day trip. It is a new station to me so I give myself extra time to arrive. The ride to Segovia is around 30 minutes and we go through a long tunnel during the trip. The train arrives at the high speed rail station of Segovia-Guiomar that is about 4 km outside the city center. Luckily there is bus 11 to take you into the main tourist areas. Exact change needed for the bus, or at least smaller bill, because there is no where at the train station to make change (at least when I arrived the only restaurant was closed). I find a smaller bills hidden in my bag, others in line have a harder time collecting fare.

The bus drop off is right in front of the aqueduct for which the city is famous for.

View of aqueduct right past the bus stop

The exact date of the construction of this roman aqueduct are not know but it is still a marvel to view considering this had to be done prior to 200 AD.

My gaze heads to the sky while I watch flocks of birds flying in and out of the arches in round patterns.

My train to Segovia was quite early this morning and I didn’t get a chance to eat a proper breakfast. I pass by a café that seems like a place the locals go and I order a café con leche and the bread-like thing that is sitting on the counter. The Torrijas de Leche ends up being a sort of French toast-style egg custard bread. I normally don’t choose sweet things in the morning but it is nice to try something different every once in a while.

I am now ready to begin my day.

The second most important thing that people visit in Segovia is the Alcázar de Segovia. This fairytale castle is said to have inspired Disney’s Cinderella’s castle. Not sure about that since I heard the same story about Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. Anyway it is neat to tour and it has some great overlooks from the castle.

To get the the alcazar I take the long way and wander through the quiet streets of the Jewish quarter.

I eventually come to the city wall and I follow that to the alcazar. Soon the castle appears in the distance.

Muralla de Segovia and view of alcazar

Muralla de Segovia and view of the city

Again I spend a good amount of time looking at the ceiling. I am always fascinated about how much detail is given to ceilings.

I walk by a couple churches, including the Segovia cathedral. It is only day 3 of my travels and I’m already burned out on churches so I decide to not go inside. From the pictures I’ve seen online it has some pretty neat floors though.

I prefer instead to just wander the streets. This time of day there aren’t as many day trippers so it is nice and peaceful.

Again I walk through the Jewish quarter. I love the texture patterns on the walls of the buildings.

Jewish Quarter

I return to the busy areas. People are shopping and gathering. It is lunchtime.

I have planned in advance for lunch today. A stop to Segovia is not complete unless you try a local specialty the cochinillo (roasted suckling pig). Mesón de Cándido is recommended for suckling pig. I have made reservations in advance and have an outdoor table with a view of the aqueduct. I am very glad my temporary meat aversion is gone by the time I arrive in Spain so I am able to enjoy this very juicy pork. The skin of the pig snaps loudly when pierced with a fork. I apologize to all my vegetarian friends for the vivid description.

cochinillo

Still have some time before I needed to head to the train station so I walk down another busy street. I see more nice churches and there is a nice view of the cathedral off in the distance.

I stop for one last snack before I head back to Madrid. Its been another hot day but I’m slowly getting back into the groove of travel. I just need to slow down at times.

Ho Chi Minh City Day tour

I book a couple of day tours in Saigon. Logistically it just seemed easier to do so then plan my own transportation to all the different sites. There is a travel agency in the lobby of my hotel’s sister hotel. I book my tours through them. The first tour I book is a Ho Chi Minh City day tour. It is a 1/2 day tour with an optional Cu Chi tunnels afternoon tour (another post about that).

Not loving my tour companions for today’s day tour. They show up 30 min late because their breakfast is more important than the rest of the tour and now we are still waiting to leave for them to finish their cigarettes. Eventually they get in the van and we head to our first destination.

Independence Palace, or Reunification Palace

First stop is the Independence Palace. This headquarters of the South Vietnamese almost seems frozen in time.

We are given a tour of the underground bunker. The original maps and charts are still in place from the war. You can see how they kept track of troops and casualties.

After the reunification palace we stopped by an old temple Taoist temple

Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ngoc Hoang Pagoda)

Temple for a Taoist god built in early 1900’s.

War Remnants museum

Next we stop at the very powerful War Remnants Museum.

A thorough museum on the vietnam war but from a south vietnamese perspective.

*TRIGGER WARNING* There is a very hard to see photo exhibit on the affects of agent orange on the population. One would have to be a monster to come out of there without tears in their eyes. Out of respect I did not take photos of that section. Only the piece of art below.

We complete the morning tour with a visit to the historic post office and the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Notre Dame Cathedral

Historic Central Post Office

Part two of my day tour includes a visit to the Cu chi tunnels. I’ll post about that later.