More castles, amazing ancient little towns, cathedrals, and food.
We had a long drive from Nazare, Portugal to Segovia, Spain. After washing the car and getting a picnic, we powered through with just one short stop. The drive was around 5.5 hours. We saw a few of these giant bulls along Spain's desert highways.
We were pleasantly surprised with our the yard of our airbnb. We had some outdoor space for lounging and playing games. We were staying in a town called Torrecaballeros just outside of Segovia. We found a nearby pizza place and ate outside despite the heat. We were all beat after a hot day.
Segovia's Alcazar, Aqueduct, and Cathedral
We started off the day with a small breakfast in our apartment. We had an ambitious plan to see several big sites in Segovia. We began with the giant Alcazar Castle. Apparently, this castle inspired the Walt Disney logo. I can see why! We climbed to the top of the tower and explored the interior of the castle. Each room had elaborate ceilings and medieval decor. We saw great views over the town of Segovia including the huge cathedral and the sparse desert landscape surrounding the town.
Next was the central part of Segovia. We found a casual cafe for empanadas and sandwiches. It was a hot day but we still meandered, shopped, and eventually found the famous aquaduct. Amazing engineering!
We were really thirsty by this point so we found a scenic spot for beer and a break.
We were rejuvenated enough to see one last site - the huge Segovia Cathedral. We walked around looking up with our mouths wide open once again. It reminded us of the cathedral in Burgos. Simply stunning attention to detail both inside and out.
It was a hot day and we were tired. We found a giant Carrefour grocery store where we bought dinner and loads of fun snacks. We made a lovely antipasto plate with bread and olives and called it dinner. We played lots of cards on the back deck and got some much needed sleep.
La Granja, Swimming, and Burgers
Our town was very close to the palace of La Granja. It's a smaller version of Paris' Versailles. We weren't allowed to take photos inside but we took several of the grounds and fountains. It was very hot once again so we were moving more slowly than usual. Even though we took in one site, it was more of a down day. We got caught in the palace's huge labyrinth at one point.
We had a small lunch of leftovers before walking to the nearby pool. Mom and DH stayed back for some R&R. The pool felt great and I am pretty sure that we were the only non-locals around.
We headed back to the same restaurant that we ate at on our first night in Segovia. This time, it was good old hamburgers.
We enjoyed Segovia but were hot and ready to move east toward Teruel.
Teruel - More Driving, Tracking Down a Ronaldo Jersey, and Parking in an Elevator
Today started with a few minor mishaps. We were caffeine-deprived and a little cranky. (We'd run out of the special coffee pods for the machine.) We stopped at a grocery store that didn't have a coffee shop (many do) and realized that one of the kid's Chromebooks was left at the apartment 15 minutes away. Ugh! After emailing the owner, we were able to get access to the apartment again to rescue the computer. By this point, we needed to hit the road. We drove about an hour to the outskirts of Madrid to a Real Madrid Official Store. My mom bought a jersey for my soccer-loving niece.
We found the jersey at an upscale outlet mall that had a Starbucks. I don't usually drink Starbucks at home but a giant 16 oz mocha never tasted so good!
We drove another 3.5 hours to the relatively unknown town of Teruel. We picked this town because of its proximity to Albarracin, a beautiful desert hill town that my brother and sister in-law had recommended. Teruel was a hit! We scored a beautiful apartment just around the corner from its main square. DH was a little apprehensive of the unique parking arrangement at first. He had to drive down a skinny mostly pedestrian street to turn into an elevator. The elevator took the car below street level to a reserved parking spot. It was tricky at first and the apartment owner didn't speak any English. She was sweet but the process was nerve-wracking.
Once settled, we found ice cream and beer on the main square. We did a little shopping and wandering around the town. Mom, DD#2 and I split off for a while and explored. There was an old aqueduct, many beautiful towers, and gorgeous buildings. People seemed relaxed and friendly. We finally decided on a restaurant on the main square where we shared three combination plates of meats, different potatoes, and veggies. Sharing a bottle of wine usually costs between 6-9 Euros. What a treat!
Albarracin, More Teruel, and a Police Incident!
I woke up sort of early (that's 8am these days) and went for a lovely run around the town of Teruel. It wasn't the most aerobic workout due to my many stops to take pictures.
We had a nice breakfast at Granier Bakery right on the main square. It was just over 6 Euros for pastries and coffee for all of us. Such a deal!
Of course we had to try the fartons. Ha!
We drove a short 40 minutes to the beautiful town of Albarracin. On the way, we drove by the strangest airport. Google informed us that it's a maintenance and storage airport for commercial jets that opened in 2013. Interesting.
The scenery was so dramatic as we approached the town.
Albarracin is a desert hill town that still seems 500 years old. It was so much fun weaving in and out of the narrow streets much like a maze. There were stairs, steep ascents, and little alley ways everywhere. It still seems relatively undiscovered by tourists. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring despite the heat.
At one point, DH and I left the rest of the crew with ice cream and beer on the main square so we could climb up to the old fortress walls that once defended the city We were the only ones up there hiking! It was hot but the views were remarkable.
We found a pretty riverside park for a picnic lunch before heading back to Teruel for siesta and dinner.
On our way back to Teruel, I had the bright idea of finding a municipal pool. This little detour took us through a small neighborhood near a police precinct. Just as we spotted the pool, three police officers pulled us over. We were not speeding or doing anything out of the ordinary. Our car has tourist license plates that were unfamiliar in this small Spanish town. The officers looked at our passports, car paperwork, and made lots of phone calls. They took several pictures of the license and the car and had many questions. After 15-20 stressful minutes, they finally let us go. It wasn't exactly scary but kind of unnerving. I think we provided them with some training for the day. BMW European Delivery was obviously a new concept to the Teruel Police Department!
Some of us climbed the scenic San Salvador Tower in Teruel. The outside of the tower is decorated with colorful tiles making it one of the prettiest towers that I've climbed. There are five similar towers in town. You can climb through some of the towers because they straddle the street.
We found a grand historic staircase that lead to a park where the kids let off some steam.
We had some yummy tapas for dinner including things like lamb meatballs, scallops, chicken spring rolls, and the most popular Spanish tapas, patatas bravas. We started our dinner outside but a huge and windy thunderstorm rolled in forcing us to move inside.
Teruel was a great surprise. It's such a lovely and pleasant Spanish town. On to Barcelona!