Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Segovia, Spain: Across the Hign Plateau

From the Portugal border we continued east.  The cities of Salamanca and Segovia were on our list to visit.  Along the way we crossed wide open spaces dotted with an occasional small agricultural town.  Along the way were stretches of canola fields so bright it almost hurts the eyes, oak forests, and an occasional pig farm.  This elevation is still high here and the winters can be cold.  With the rolling hills and large plantings of wheat, it is a landscape not unlike eastern Montana. 

Rolling into Cuidad Rodrigo on one of the last bright and shiny days.

Some of our new friends.

Big skies and quiet roads.  There was so little traffic we were able to ride side-by-side for along some stretches of road.

Oak forests dot the hills with the green grass and tiny yellow flowers of spring.  We found out that some of the best ham is made from acorn-fed pigs. 
All good things must come to an end, and so did the crystalline blue skies of the last couple of weeks. We knew it would, because we have a weather app on our smartphone. But it was a surprise when it came a bit early and we woke up to raindrops on the tent fly. We had just a short distance to ride from our stealth camp in a cow pasture to the university town of Salamanca. We established ourselves in a campground east of town before it really started to come down, and it continued into the night. So we took our umbrellas with us into the city for a day of sightseeing, and by afternoon we were rewarded with enough sun for some bright photos.
The Romans crossed here.  Portions of this bridge crossing the Tormes River date back to the 1st century,

The Plaza Mayor has 88 arches around the square decorated with medallions of important historical figures.

The buildings in the heart of the old town are so packed together that the only way to get a view is to look up.  Notice the texture of the building on the upper right of the picture...

...called the Casa de las Conchas -- "House of the Shells".

For a small fee it is possible to walk around the old buildings of the university.  We found the shape of the windows of the inner square interesting.

Once we get rid of the bikes and the stretchy clothes, we become anonymous tourists.  John looks like just another silhouette on the street.

Puffy clouds after a night of rain.

On a whim we visited the Casa Lis Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum.  Besides a rather disturbing collection of French dolls, there was a totallyy gorgeous stained glass window looking south over the river.

The open areas between buildings of the university are public areas, and there were several Henry Moore sculptures on display.  A nice contrast of new and smooth against the hard edges of the stately architecture.

Canola fields forever.

One stealth camp was in a pine forest where every tree was scarred like this.  Little clay pots were at the base collecting the sap from the bleeding trees, presumably for the manufacture of turpentine.
The town of Segovia is in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama, which separate it from the metropolis of Madrid.  The mountains catch the moisture of storms coming from the west, making it a green and sometimes misty place. 
Rain followed us to Segovia, and the town was a fantastical sight as we approached.

Adding to our collection of aqueduct images, the mighty Roman aqueduct of Segovia crosses through the heart of the town.

The structure is, to say the least, awesome.

Sixteenth century cathedral meets first century arches.

Hey, there's a troll in the arches!

The exterior of many of the buildings in Segovia have a plaster coating with an embossed motif.

Looking out from the Alcazar into the countryside.

Morning sun on the Cathedral on the day we left this fairy tail town.

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