Segovia & Classical Spain 2014

Segovia and Classical Spain.

We arrived in Segovia, 90 km north of Madrid on plateau 1000 m above sea level, after a trouble-free journey chaperoned by John and Agnes of Discovery Travel. Our hotel, on the outskirts of Segovia, was very grand with comfortable and spacious rooms.

Mike had planned an interesting itinerary which began with an optional orientation tour of Segovia city on Sunday. With a Roman aqueduct, Moorish Alcazar and Christian Basilica surrounded by Romanesque city walls it provided us with a great introduction to all the region had to offer.

Monday saw us visiting the walled city of Toledo south of Madrid. It was distinguished by a series of escalators which whisked us up into the centre where our guide took us on a walking tour. The return journey gave us a chance to admire the varied scenery and catch glimpses of storks and raptors flying by.

Next day was one of our “free” days. Whether it was spent in the hotel garden relaxing, speeding into Madrid at 250 km ph. on the AVE high speed train or exploring La Granja, a nearby village which boasts a Royal Palace built in the style of Versailles by Phillip V we were refreshed and ready for new adventures on Wednesday.

Travelling north we came to Duero wine region, characterised by striped fields of vines following the contours of the clay soil and chalk escarpments. As we neared Penafiel an impressive castle, perched on a stony outcrop above the town, dominated the skyline and in the distance to the south Cuellar castle was visible. We enjoyed an informative tour of Bodegas Vina Major, sampling the delicious wines before heading off to a local Asados (restaurant) to feast on the local specialty – roasted spring lamb.

Our last day, Friday, included a visit to Avila. This was yet another walled city, but – what a gem! The ancient walls looked as though they had only recently been constructed and the 11th century towers were still proudly guarding the town. Then we went on to the Royal Monastery of El Escorial which rightly deserves to be a World Heritage site for its collection of Spanish paintings, its austere architecture and the awesome Pantheon of Kings below ground level. Our final stop at Franco’s Valley of the Fallen was extremely thought provoking.

Having arrived back safely I am sure I am not the only one to want to thank Mike for a super week and to put my name down for the next trip!

Joan Stevenson

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