Saturday, 3 November 2007


A little over a month ago we went on our first adventure outside Madrid. There's an ancient little town about 50km to the north called Segovia. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it really is quite amazing. My interest in it started when I read that the Guardian Hay Festival would be held there at the end of September. In case you don't know, the Hay Festival began as a kind of book fair in Hay-On-Wye in Wales about 20 years ago, and has expanded considerably since then. I just loved the idea of stepping off the train in a Spanish town and asking someone '¿Hay Festival?' (hay in Spanish means 'is there?').

The Festival was on for four days, but because of BetterArf's work schedule we could only go on the last day. None of the literary events scheduled for that day appealed to us, but we went anyway because I'd been looking forward to it. It turned out to be not the best possible day to go: the weather was overcast and stormy-looking, BetterArf was coming down with a cold, and the Director of Planning (moi) had neglected to check the train times. I mean, you would think they'd be every half-hour, wouldn't you?

We arrived at Atocha station and we had just missed a train. We stared in incomprehension at the timetable. The trains run every two hours! Worse than that, it takes two bloody hours to get there. Unbelievable. When it came, we discovered that this Cercania (regional train) had the hardest seats ever designed, stopped at every village on the way, and had a real hard time dragging itself up the mountains. Some of the scenery was stunning, and I would have taken some photos had it not been for the fact that every single (polycarbonate, I presume) window had been scratched to buggery with the names of some cretinous vandals. Grrr.

When we finally arrived at Segovia we had a quick look round, and then it was well into lunchtime. What you have to have for lunch in Segovia is Cochinillo, roast suckling pig. This we duly did, and then headed back to the railway station. The station is a fair way from the old town, and we attempted to catch a taxi but there were none to be had and we had not allowed enough time to walk there. Bugger! Another train missed. So we spent a fairly dismal hour and a half in a not very nice bar opposite the station. We did see a poster at the station promising that a fast service to Madrid would be starting in December.

All in all, a pretty crap day out, but the town itself is absolutely gorgeous and we'll definitely be back in the spring. Here's some not very good pictures:

Did I mention the Roman Aqueduct?

It's over 1 km long, over 100 ft high and held together by gravity. Absolutely amazing.


Jin said...

2hrs to do 50km on a train.........why you not gotta car senor?
Pics are stunning.
Fanks for the read :-)

Graeme said...

I made the same mistake once by insisting that going by train to Segovia would be better than going by bus. Never has a train journey seemed so long. The bus, on the other hand, takes about 75 minutes, as long as you don't leave in Madrid rush hour. The train is going to get quicker because the high speed line is going to open, and the difference in time will be very impressive.

Jessica said...

Wow, really interesting photos. Nothing like that in America!