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The Aqueduct Touched Me, or, Your Mom’s a Sundial

29 March 2008

Note to the Reader:
Unlike Al’s false advertising about the length of her last post, I will warn you that this is a long one. But it’s got pictures!

Still, better read it over lunch.

Today started ridiculously early with the not-so-dulcet tones of our $3 alarm clock rousting us out of bed at 7:30a so that we could catch the bus for our school-sponsored excursion to Segovia, a small city about 1.5 hours north of Madrid, famous for its ancient Roman Aqueduct. (Note: on school days we usually set the alarm for 11:30a, but don’t actually make it out of bed till around 12:30, which gives us just enough time to shower, dress, eat, do homework and leisurely stroll thru the park to make it to our 3:30p class just in time. We ARE on vacation, dammit!). Suffice it to say that NO ONE in Madrid was up when we were walking to the bus…

After boarding the bus and promptly passing out, we arrived in Segovia around 11am and began the day with a stop at a little cafe for a tortilla (egg and potato omelet, a staple of Spanish cuisine) and a café con leche pick-me-up. Fully sated, we then began our tour of the ancient town, which has been inhabited since prehistoric time by a series of disparate peoples, including Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and finally European Spaniards. The architectural style resulting from this unique range of inhabitants lends an intriguing flavor to the buildings of the town; nearly everything is constructed out of that yellowish stone typical of central Spain, wood and plaster / rubble, and is beautifully aged. So much so, that I managed to shoot 567 pictures of said aged beauty, resulting in my constant tardiness to each successive site on the tour, to the point that I dawdled by the Aqueduct and ultimately and made us all late for the bus home. In America, this probably would have earned me the ire of both the tour guides and my fellow tourists, but here, it didn’t seem to matter. Especially after I explained myself to the guides, saying it was Spain’s fault for being so beautiful, not mine for photographing it. That and the fact that my new Nikon camera, which is made in Japan, instantly converts the user into a Japanese tourist, where even parking lots are worth photographing. Two irrefutable points that no one on the bus could reckon with. Oh yeah, in addition and the bus was late itself, so it was moot anyway. Go Spanish attention to promptness!

The fruits of my labor are on display in the hallowed virtual halls of flickr.

At any rate, we saw a number of awe-inspiring structures, including several churches which had to be older than God (work that one out…); the Cathedral which, given it’s yellow color and incredible ornateness, gives the impression of a sandcastle adorned with mud-drip crenelations; the Alcázar, a fortress situated in such an advantageous position that attacking it would be absolutely insane (it’s on a rocky precipice complete with a 200ft drop to the plain below, and bordered on both sides by rivers), and of course, the Aqueduct, a 2000-year-old beaut of Roman design that has managed to weather the tests of time (and…uh…weather) without the aid of cement or other binding agent / device between the stones (it’s all mass and pressure–physics never looked so good, baby!).


The Cathedral was beautiful, both inside and out, with the soaring architecture typical of Gothic styling, while the Alcázar was slightly underwhelming, if only for the lack of scale (it looks bigger than it is). Inside, however, are several interesting rooms, including the throne room of Ferdinand and Isabella (the pair of monarchs who finally booted the Moors off the peninsula and paid for Columbus to discover America), which features their actual wooden thrones. Interestingly, and counter to Spanish royal tradition, their thrones are on equal footing and are of equal grandeur—usually the queen’s throne was lower and more modest—owing to their shared political clout and mutual respect for each other. Al the feminist loved it. There were also a number of rooms featuring armor from the period, and each room was ornately decorated in a Moorish / Christian hybrid style, typical of the region.

After climbing the 200 steps to top of the tower of the Alcázar, we recovered from our leg cramps and racing heart rates to dine on a local delicacy: roasted suckling pig. Basically it’s slow roasted baby pork that’s so tender they cut it tableside with the blunt edge of a plate. Al got the ass, complete with crispy corkscrew tail and I got a front shoulder and ear, and after we were done, there was nothing left for the buzzards. Say what you will about the morality of eating Piglet, but good lord, it was TASTY. And since we’ve already paid money to see bulls slaughtered in the name of sport we figured we’re already on the ASPCA’s watch list, so what’s one more transgression?


After that it was ice cream, more photos of the Aqueduct and home. Good times, good times.

Oh, and about the title: while in an outdoor courtyard at the Alcázar, I noticed a unique device on one of the walls featuring a metal pin protruding perpendicularly from the wall with a series of Roman numerals in a semi-circular array around it. It dawned on me that this was some kind of ancient clock, and in my nerdy (and at this point in the tour, famished to the point of halucination) excitement, I babbled to Al, “Look! It’s a clock that uses that metal thing to make a shadow to tell the time!” Unimpressed, she retorted “That’s a sundial, you idiot.” Despite this blow, my wit would not be stifled, and I shot back, “Your mom’s a sundial!”.

Boom. Game over. I win.

Oh, and I touched the Aqueduct. Which essentially means the Aqueduct touched me. And inappropriately, I might add. Bad Aqueduct.

I need an adult.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Spirit of 73 permalink
    29 March 2008 11:15 pm

    Yeah? Well, your mom’s a metronome.

    Bite it.

  2. Dan permalink
    30 March 2008 9:54 am

    MC and Al, Al and MC,
    For political correctness, I addressed the second alphabetically and to show that you are both first in our minds.
    I have roared out loud on several of your comments over the past few days when reading the blog. MC, I can assure you that Bruce and I would be up and about – fully awake – at 7:30 am. This is a time of day that he and I are very accustomed to since neither of us wants to “waste the whole damn day.”
    I have only seen the few photos on the blog so far, but I want to view and relish in a more relaxed manner those on flicker, given that those have to be at least as good as the posted ones. Each of you describe things so fully and enjoyably that I can feel being right with you as you experience it.
    I look forward to seeing and reading about the next episodes of your adventures in Spain.

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