“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”

~ Title quote by James Michener

Our backpacks are ready to make their last trek of this trip, and we see the ever impressive Aqueduct as we leave the hostal.Spain-1040888rhp  We saunter to the Segovia, Spain bus station, drinking in the sights before we head to Madrid so we can fly back home to cold, wintry Minnesota.

Spain-1050295dmvWe pass by the butcher shop with its unique (to us) featured products.  What is that large white item in the window?  Pig stomachs? Brains appear to be on the lower shelf.

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Last chance for shopping. Spain-1040851 Spain-1040852
We’ve learned that completing challenges in life can be an empowering experience.

Spain-1040845Last chance for a group photo before we go our separate ways.

Spain-1050307I look out the bus window to see this trio sharing a good laugh.

Could it be the sight of Randy and his “harem” of women getting on the bus that is tickling their funny bones?

Spain-1040355dmvWe’ve been living out of backpacks for about 2 1/2 weeks now and the comfortable feeling of home is calling our names.  This whole Camino experience has had a surreal feel to it and I often had to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream.  The Camino has been a unique experience in that we not only visited Spain, but also visited with people from all over the world, joining us in the communal mission of reaching Santiago on the Way of St. James. Gives a United Nations feel to the Camino.  Plus, the side trip to Segovia was just icing on the cake.

Walking the Camino de Santiago may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done ( Even childbirth didn’t take this long).  Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat.

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Cinderella’s Castle ~ Alcazar of Segovia

The Alcázar of Segovia (literally, Segovia Castle) is a stone fortification, located in the old city of Segovia.The Alcázar was originally built as a fortress but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then. The castle is one of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.

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It is one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain by virtue of its shape – like the bow of a ship .The Alcázar, throughout the Middle Ages, remained one of the favorite residences of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile and a key fortress in the defense of the kingdom. It was during this period a majority of the current building was constructed and the palace was extended on a large scale by the monarchs of the Trastámara dynasty.

Spain-1050156Arab influence is evident in these motifs.  The Alcázar of Segovia, like many fortifications in Spain , started off as an Arab fort, which itself was built on a Roman fort but little of that structure remains.

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In 1474, the Alcázar played a major role in the rise of Queen Isabella I of Castile. On December 12th news of the King Henry IV‘s death in Madrid reached Segovia and Isabella immediately took refuge within the walls of this Alcázar where she received the support of Andres Cabrera and Segovia’s council. She was crowned the next day as Queen of Castile and León.

Spain-1050143dmvThe royal court eventually moved to Madrid and the Alcázar then served as a state prison for almost two centuries before King Charles III founded the Royal Artillery School in 1762. It served this function for almost a hundred years until March 6, 1862 where a fire badly damaged the roofs and framework.

It was only in 1882 that the building was slowly restored to its original state. In 1896, King Alfonso XIII ordered the Alcázar to be handed over to the Ministry of War as a military college.  ~ Wikipedia

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Armory Room

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More bling can be found by looking up toward the ceiling.

My mind is saturated with the visual stimulation of castles, cathedrals and their opulent furnishings.  We are starting to go into “sightseeing overload.”

What’s that over there?…Oh, just another castle.

Cathedral of Segovia

The massive Cathedral of Segovia was built between 1525-1577 except for the dome, built around 1630.

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The Cathedral: Located in the Plaza Mayor, this beautiful Cathedral looms over Segovia’s historic center. It was built in a Renaissance Gothic style in the 16th century following the destruction of the previous Roman cathedral. It has a museum which has the first printed book in Spain from 1472. This Cathedral is acclaimed for both its size and beauty, designed by Juan Gil de Hontañón, it has 3 naves with adjoining chapels on each side.   http://www.euroresidentes.com/euroresiuk/guides-spain/guide-to-segovia.htm

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Gruesome, life-size sculpture of the crucified Christ. Makes one think…

Takin’ Care of Business

Segovia, Spain…a day in the life.

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Spain-1050288dmvcrWash day break to catch up on the news.

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Spain-1040993dmvpopLast drag on the cig before 10th grade math class…

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Spain-1050279dmvEven this little bird has found its own little spot in this world ~ a special perch on the aqueduct.  I guess we all have a special place and purpose and that makes the world go around.

You’re never too old to learn something new.

So, seven naive Americans stumble into a Hookah bar in Segovia, Spain owned by a Syrian gentleman.

What is that on the bar?  Is it for drugs?

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Here we have the attentive students eager to learn about this odd-looking apparatus.

Spain-1050188plAny questions?

The restaurant is called Teteria Tuma, and serves delicious Lebanese/Syrian food.

Spain-1050181dmvcrHe lights it up.   Should we smoke it?  

Hmmm… what would Jesus do?

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What happens in Spain stays in Spain…

Oh, Segovia…you take my breath away.

Segovia, Spain, which was destroyed and reconstructed by the Romans in 80 B.C., became one of the first Roman towns in Spain.

The aqueduct transported waters from Fuente Fría river, situated in the nearby mountains, some 17 km (11 mi) from the city in a region known as La Acebeda. It runs another 15 km (9.3 mi) before arriving in the city.

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As the aqueduct lacks a legible inscription (one was apparently located in the structure’s attic, or top portion), the date of construction cannot be definitively determined. The actual date of the Aqueduct’s construction has always been considered a mystery although it was thought to have been during the 1st century AD.

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Today, two niches are still visible, one on each side of the aqueduct. One of them is known to have held the image of Hercules, who according to legend was founder of the city.Spain-1040902rshp

The other niche now contains the images of the Virgen de la Fuencisla (the Patroness of Segovia) and Saint Stephen.

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At the end of the 20th century, a German archaeologist managed to decipher the text on the dedication plaque by studying the anchors that held the now missing bronze letters in place. Using this method, he was able to determine that in actuality it was the Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96) who ordered its construction.

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The aqueduct is built of unmortared, brick-like granite blocks. During the Roman era, each of the three tallest arches displayed a sign in bronze letters, indicating the name of its builder along with the date of construction.
Spain-1040856rsWe walked about a mile or so to find the channel that brought the water into town.
The water was first gathered in a tank known as El Caserón (or Big House), and is then led through a channel to a second tower known as the Casa de Aguas (or Waterhouse). There it  was naturally decanted and sand settled before the water continued its route. Next the water traveled 728 m (796 yd) on a one-percent grade until it is high upon the Postigo, a rocky outcropping on which the old city center, the Segovia Alcázar, was built.         ~All information was sourced from Wikipedia

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I’m not sure if this little block filled with water at the top of the aqueduct  was the base of a former column or there for another purpose.  We see many groups of Spanish students, as well as other countries, touring the monument.

Spain-1040961Requirement to go up the stairs to the VERY top is to pass by this forlorn, senior citizen beggar.

Spain-1040963bwI pay my new beggar friend his modeling fee and take a close up. Sun is glaring and bright so it’s not the best lighting and I over exposed the image.  I should have used my new shawl  to block the bright light so I could have some nice diffused lighting.

Would-a-could-a-should-a…   

All in a day’s work… Gypsy style

A day in the life of a Gypsy:

Pace the area going up to the famous Segovia aqueduct monument and show your saddest eyes.   Approach a tourist who happens to have a kind heart.

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Now, bring out your prettiest shawl and wave it in front of tender-hearted Randy. (Meanwhile, I am gesturing and shaking my head) No! 

Bonita y cuesta 10 euros

Muy bonita! 8 Euros…

No, gracias.

Siete Euros… muy, muy bonita.   Randy agrees to purchase the pretty shawl and takes out a 10 Euro, but she says she has no change.  No problemo, she offers two scarves for 12 Euros.  Randy goes for it and gives her 12 Euros to purchase two shawls. His reasoning:   But she has such sad eyes and needs business.

We get back to the hostal and look in the bag, only to discover she has switched the really fancy scarf for a scarf that is not as flashy.  The old” bait and switch” trick.

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Hey, that’s my fancy shawl she’s trying to sell!   It’s a living, I guess…