Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A REAL Travel Tuesday: La Granja de San Ildefonso, Segovia and Pedraza de la Sierra

Tuesday, 22 November, 2016:

Hard to believe that it's been fifty-three years since the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Laurie and I decided to head North on an adventurous day.

See, ADVENTURE was in the air!

We loaded up into the Land Rover to head to the ancient cities (OK, OK, I know, all the cities in Spain are ancient) of Segovia and Pedraza de la Sierra.

Our GPS system had us get off the Autopista to take a smaller, highway through the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains which are a popular skiing destinations for Madrileños.

We stopped for breakfast
at a semi-ski lodge

It had an Atletico Madrid vs.
Real Madrid foosball game

Laurie and hearts just seem
to go together

Part of the nearby ski lift

Driving in the clouds

Old roofs

Scenic Highways

We ran into a sign that announced a historical site that was not on our agenda so an amendment was made on the spot.

Welcome to . . .

La Granja de San Ildefonso

 It looked regal

We loved the Fall colors
as we walked

 HEY, that's a real, live
Christmas tree!

Laurie was excited

A Royal Palace

This palace was the 300-room Palacio Real that was once the favorite Summer residence for Spanish royalty. It was built for the Bourbon King Felipe V who wanted the recreate a miniature version of Versailles, the palace of his French grandfather, King Louis XIV.

The Gardens and Fountains
were to our left

Lots of new pine cones

This is just the palace's
small chapel

That's a BIG tree

Real, live holly

The palace grounds are full of Christmas symbolism!

The Bourbons were French

The Royal Gardens in Autumn

The Fountains are still on Tuesdays

Nature at its finest

Ancient version of Kevin and Jacob

Good spot to read a book

Just flat out peaceful

Interesting woman

Walking towards this . . .

. . . Fountain

 Now, THAT'S what a 300-room
Palacio Real should look like!

Facing out to the Gardens

As everyone knows, the Bourbons
were HUGE Los Angeles Rams fans

We walked this path

Somebody's Mother I suspect

300 rooms take up a lot of space

Serene Garden

 The Fountain of Fame

Another look back at
the Palacio Real

 Lots of these in the Gardens

Fall colors are amazing

 The Palacio Real as seen from
the Fountain of Fame

 Hi, sailor!

Yes, Lions are indeed a sign
of royalty

Makes sense to me to call it
Calle del Rey

Artsy photo out of a
men's room window

One of many gates

Heading back to the Land Rover

We did enter into the Palacio Real itself to see the amazing Tapestry Museum but opted not to tour the whole palace because photos were not allowed and we have seen more than our fair share of royal bedrooms and royal dining rooms over the last eight years living throughout Europe.

More old roof tiles

Harkening back to the
Golden Age of Spain

This unscheduled stop at La Granja de San Ildefonso was delightful!

Now it was on to our original first stop 50 miles north of Madrid in . . .


Segovia's famed Roman Aqueduct

Segovia sits 3,000 feet above sea level and can be quite chilly this time of year.

I had visited Segovia alone back in 2012 on my way to coaching the Thun Tigers in Switzerland and had really enjoyed the city. It would be Laurie's first time to this old city that served as a military base for the Roman Empire.

Much of modern Segovia lies
in the valley beneath
the historic district 


We loved it!

 Built by Emperor Trajan's engineers

It was originally nine miles long and brought water from the Río Frio to the city.

This famous, exposed section of the 2,000 year old aqueduct is 2,500 feet long and 100 feet high.

It has 118 arches and was made
from 20,000 granite blocks

The amazing thing is that it was constructed without any mortar and can still carry a small stream of water to the city.

The Mesón de Cándido

Probably the most famous restaurant in the city, it serves up a delicious cochinillo (roast, suckling pig) that is both tender and juicy.

My dear Aunt Katy told me that I had to eat here when I came in 2012, so I did.

Hard to believe that Aunt Katy died two years ago the week before Thanksgiving.

Laurie was all for eating
at the Mesón de Cándido

So we did

Vino tinto goes GREAT
with cochinillo

Rustic eating spot

Finally, the cochinillo
arrived with amazing aromas

 I got a pig foot to boot!

The Aqueduct through the
Mesó de Cándido's window

Kind of a Hunting Lodge
feel to the place

 If you are ever in Segovia,
eat here!

Señor Cándido himself

Afterwards, we needed to walk off some of that fine meal on the streets of Segovia.

 Casa de los Picos
of Moorish origins

 Another ancient door

 The City Museum

I'm an Abuelo
three times over!

 Laurie and her men in uniform

 The Plaza de San Martín

 Juan Bravo

Bravo was a Segovian who was beheaded in 1521 due to his leading a revolt against the Hapsburg's King Charles V who ruled Castile at that time.

The Cathedral in the distance

 Cool Arches

In memory of the anti-Fascist
Republicans who died fighting in
the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War

The Old Jewish neighborhood

The Jews were expelled from Spain
by the Catholic Kings in the 1500s

Sephardic tapas?

Segovia's impressive Gothic Cathedral
built from 1525 to 1768

Due to time restraints, we did not enter.

Who's older,
me or this door?

Archaic building materials

Laurie loves all things cherry

 A small, random church that
is hardly worth mentioning

A monument to some
artillery officers

The Alcázar

This is Segovia's medieval fortified palace that was a favorite residence of many of the monarchs of Castile.

It also, over time, served as a prison for 200 years and as the Royal Artillery School.

Now it is a museum.

View from the Alcázar

A better view of the Alcazar

The view of the Cathedral from
the Alcázar

 Walking back to the Land Rover,
another shot of the Cathedral

and another

 American culture invades

Nice display window

We were on the road again for a 45 minute drive to our final destination.

A random church along the way

Finally we arrived at . . .

Pedraza de la Sierra

This was a small, population 200, medieval city recommended to us by one of the Guadalajara Stings players a few weeks ago.

Pedraza de la Sierra's
mountain top castle

I've got to drive the Land Rover
through these narrow streets?

I definitely pulled in the side view mirrors just in case.

The valley below this
medieval mountain village

You guessed it,
a random church

HUGE stork's nest
atop the tower

Quiet streets on a cold, late
afternoon in Pedraza de la Sierra

The castle is now an art museum

It was closed today.

Nice flag!

Nicer moat

 The castle's main door
deserved a closer look

Spikes . . .

Lots and . . .

Lots of spikes

Plus a great locking mechanism.

As for me, I like to study . . .

Spores . . .

Molds . . .

And fungus

Hammer Time in
Pedraza de la Sierra

That is one tall tower

More HUGE stork nests

A basket weaver's home?



Laurie likes the lace
in the window look

 Solid wall construction

Fun with Phone Booths

Pedraza de la Sierra's
14th-century Plaza Mayor

A townswoman drawing water

 School Crest

Truck full of fire wood

I can get through there, right? 

The 90 minute drive home was done mostly in a rain storm that turned into snow flurries for a couple of minutes.

No problem, we were in a Land Rover!

Osos Rivas Time!

No practice was scheduled for tonight but we were going to have a video session with the team to go over last Saturday's Camioneros game.

WR Marco Chomón
wearing Fidel Castro's
original baseball uniform

It explained the beard to me finally.

The room was full of
Osos ready to learn

Unfortunately, no one knew where the team's video projector was hiding, so no videos were shown.

Just another day in EuroBall.

On an upbeat note,
it was time for

True teammates help each
other get properly dressed

Form tackling drill onto
dummies was fun for all 

Scrimmage time

Pass Protection with an
off balance Center

Love my Stings!

It was just another GREAT
day to be alive in España!

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