Last weekend, my friend Roberto and I took a day trip 1.5 hours outside of Madrid to Segovia–a beautiful, enchanting town that I can’t stop daydreaming about during classes this week! I guess you can’t expect less of a World Heritage city.
Our first stop was the Aqueduct of Segovia, which dates back to the late 1st and early 2nd centuries. It is one of the best preserved ancient monuments in the nation, and it stretches for over 800 meters as it stands majestically against the backdrop of the Guadarrama Mountains. We stood in awe as we came upon its dark silhouette against the hard blue sky. I felt like I was living in a postcard.
Meet Robert[o]. He is also studying at ICADE, as an exchange student from Shanghai who is spending a year in Spain to fully experience its culture and lifestyle before he returns to China to fulfill his job offer at Ernst & Young. He has a perfect accent when he speaks Spanish (which I completely envy), and is a great cook!
Soon enough, we were starving! Luckily, Roberto’s landlord recommended a great restaurant called Méson De Cándido, which happened to be literally right next to the aqueduct. We ordered the house wine, as well as Medallones de Jabalí con Manzana (pork medallions with apple) and Mollejas de Cerdero con Pierros y Trigueros (what I thought was lamb with asparagus…). All of us love ordering food in Spain because you never know exactly what you’re going to get. Well, it turns out that I did order lamb…just that it was lamb pancreas, commonly known in the States as lamb sweetbread. A delicacy to some, I’m sure; but I wasn’t ready to be that adventurous. Lucky for me, Roberto was a total gentleman and offered to switch dishes. (Thanks again, Robert!!!)
From the cathedral, we headed towards the palace. On the way, we saw so many charming winding roads, beautiful textural exteriors of homes, small gardens, and more.
Finally after a long trek, we made it to Alcázar de Segovia, the palace that is rumored to have inspired the castle in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. It was beautiful! We went inside to see its ornate ceilings, amory room, and terrace gardens. We even climbed the 152 steps to the top of the tower from which we were able to witness the most spectacular views of the city as the sunset blanketed the rooftops and terrain with a golden hue…
Finally, we ended the day at Restaurante José María for some of the city’s (and country’s) renowned cuisine: Cochinillo Asado. Cochinillo is a roasted baby pig. Its fatty outside is extra crispy while the meat is super juicy and tender. In fact, it is so tender that they use plates rather than knives or other cutlery to divide the pig into portions.
Some folktale history about the restaurant José María that a friend shared with me: Back in the day, eating baby pigs was a true luxury, obviously because letting a pig pass its infant stages means more meat, which means that it could feed more people. Therefore, the king decided to ban this dish from being cooked, unless chefs went to confront the king himself to obtain a special license. For a long period of time, José María was the only restaurant to hold a license, making it the oldest restaurant to have cooked this dish in Spain’s history.
I wish I took a picture of the whole pig before it was served! (oh well..) Notice the foot and tail on Robert’s plate. eek!
It was such a great day full of exploration. And I wouldn’t mind trekking back to explore the Esteban Vicente Contemporary Museum, Jewish District, Jardín de los Poetas….