The Aisle Seat: Segovia, Spain
Posted on 2008-02-10 00:00:00 by David Hartogs
Europe | Segovia, Spain you may ask. Where is this? Segovia is a small city about 1.5 hour bus ride or 2.5 hour train ride north west of Madrid, in the heart of Castilla Y Leon. Segovia is a city very near and dear to my heart. I studied there in the winter of 1997 and have been back to visit my old stomping grounds. Most people I know who visit Madrid will make a day trip to Toledo which is about the same distance away to the south, and I have to ask why. I have been to Toledo twice and while historic it is not nearly as fun as Segovia. If you want some Don Quixote history, the ceramic lladros, and enough marzipan to kill a grown cow then visit to Toledo. If you want fewer tourists, a more real Spanish experience, and one of the most fun night or two in Spain then visit Segovia. I won't get into the usual tourist stuff here, read one of the guide books for that stuff. I am here to tell you some inside info that will make your trip remarkable.
The bus will take only 1.5 hours from the station via, the Estacion Sur de Auobuses on Calle de Florida. The main bus line is 'La Sepulvedana' and will put you very close to the city center in Segovia. The train via Estacion Atocha, while almost twice as long, is much more scenic with views of Escorial, and Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen). This will put you about 1.5 miles outside of the city center. You can then take a bus to the center or a cab.
Don't make the mistake of making a day trip out of this, Segovia deserves two nights, one night might be ok though. Please note on Sundays many places are closed. I don't have any hotel recommendations but with a little research you can find some. Anywhere near the plaza mayor will do. Like most Spanish cities, Segovia boasts a wonderful plaza mayor, the massive cathedral, and a brilliant castle. Unlike most Spanish cities it has a truly remarkable aqueduct.
See Video of Segovia Spain
Posted by Lana542001 on YouTube
The thing I like most about Segovia is the bar scene, and not just to drink beer and wine, but the food. As is custom if you go to a bar with food windows they will serve a pincho. Not to be confused with its bigger, more known brother, the Tapa, a Pincho is a small plate of food serve for free with your drink of choice. Usually you will order a drink, from beer to wine to cocktails and there is are two food windows, one cold and one hot, in which to choose your snack. One of the best places for this is El Sitio. On Calle de la Infanta Isabel 9. They have many options, good prices and very friendly bar tenders (the owners who are brothers). I had not been back for two years and they remembered me, were very happy to see me again and gave me a round on the house with my favorite pincho. The most humble and gracious bar men I have ever encountered. I think they were turning the upstairs into a restaurant and their mom does all the cooking. They have a batter deep friend egg, their calamari is top notch, smoked fish, mussels, chicken dishes, you name it they have it and it is all excellent. It's near the Plaza Mayor. Any of the bar on the plaza it self will be more expensive and not as good. Wander the alleys and street and do a bar crawl and have a drink and a pincho and decide for your self what is the best.
One more comment on the food. Cochonillo is the local delicacy. It is roasted suckling pig. It is delicious, tender meat, crispy skin. The best time to have it is at lunch. Ask around for the best place, follow the advice of the locals and order a "cochonillo completo" It's a full meal of the suckling pig, caldo (a local soup broth) and more food. This is a must.
Carnival is a great time to be there. There is a parade where the whole town dresses in costume, marches to the plaza mayor where there is great paella and caldo for free. Great atmosphere. Then go to the clubs and bars afterwards and party with the beautiful Segovianas in costume.
Segovia boasts a great night life and one of the highest ratios of bars/people anywhere in Spain. It has been a while since I have been to Segovia so I don't want to name other bars in case they are no longer there or have gone out of style. If you have been there or are planning to go let me know. I can give you further information about Segovia.
***Aqueduct of Segovia photo from Wikipedia. Photo taken by Manuel Gonzalez Olaechea y Franco.