Today is by far one of my most memorable and loved days of this trip. It started with a stunning bus ride from Salamanca to Segovia that lasted about two hours. When I was a kid and my family would drive five to six hours to my grandparents’ house a few times a year, I always loved just looking out of the window. That hasn’t changed. I think those drives really shaped my love and tolerance for travel now, and I am so grateful because it’s one of my favorite things. The drive to Segovia was beautiful with mountain views that I never got tired of. There was one point sun was shining through some yellow weed or plant that made it look golden; I didn’t want to look away.
This trip had some really high highs, which I will get too very soon, but it also had one of the worst lows I’ve experienced since leaving home. Toward the middle/end of our drive, I realized I needed to pee really bad. I didn’t want to ask to stop because we were running late and were on a schedule with a tour guide, but it got to the point where my stomach hurt, I was crying, and I felt like I was going to pass out. We finally got to Segovia and my program director rushed me to the nearest bathroom and with tears streaming down my face I was allowed to pass everyone in the very long line. After that I was okay, but never completely better. I was still shaky and felt dizzy and tired most of the day, but that didn’t stop me from having one of the best days ever. Get ready for picture overload.
The first thing we saw was the aqueduct in Segovia that was built by the Romans in the first century A.D. It’s incredible for three reasons: first because it’s just impressively massive, second because of how precise the angle had to be to get water to flow from the mountains to the city at the right speed and consistency without modern tools, and third because there isn’t any kind of bonding agent holding the stones together. Even the stones on the arches are just really heavy and placed so precisely that they hold each other up. I remember learning about these when I took Latin in middle school, so it was really cool to see one in person. This one was still functioning until the beginning of the twentieth century. After the aqueduct, we walked through the city and learned a little bit about its history. It used to be made up of two cities, one on the inside of a gate and one surrounding it. The inside was inhabited by the rich and has several small palaces with architecture inspired by Moorish Spain. Outside the gate was where the poor lived. Now the gate is gone and it is all one city. The Plaza Mayor (main square) of this city holds one old church where Queen Isabella was crowned after her brother died (more on that later), and a huge cathedral that was built by the same architect as the cathedral in Salamanca. After that we went to my favorite part, the castle. Fun fact, this castle was the inspiration for the castle in Snow White. The crazy part is that the picture I got still wasn’t the most astounding view. We drove by on bus first and saw it, huge and looming built up into a hill, with birds flying all around it. It was gorgeous, and my first castle of many. We saw several important things, but I’ll point them out along with the pictures. Here’s me in total bliss at the fact that I was visiting a castle.We saw the throne room (first) and the room where the King or Queen had private audiences (second). The ceilings were all extremely ornate made me with real gold and other materials and were some of my favorite things to look at.One room had a mural of the day that Queen Isabella was crowned. She learned of her brother’s death and then went to the church for her coronation. She’s pictured in all white because it was the color of mourning at the time, and her face looks very solemn. The people are painted without eyes because the day she was crowned was their day to honor the blind.One of the most spectacular rooms of the castle was where laws were created. The room was lined with statues of past kings and queens. We also checked out the armory, the outside of the castle where guards would’ve been, and climbed over one hundred stairs to the top of the castle tower (then we casually ate lunches on top of the castle, no big deal).Finally, at the end of the day we drove about twenty-five to thirty minutes to the palace gardens and could do whatever we wanted there for about an hour. I chose my path based on the most beautiful trees and views of the mountains and eventually found a pond with a view of all of those things. A friend and I laid down on the grass and took a wonderful nap. I took pictures of some pretty flowers on the way out.Truly, one of my favorite days so far.