Man those Romans were good, at least for a while. Smack dab in the middle of Segovia, a town a couple of hours north of Madrid, is a huge aqueduct as tall as a fairly tall building sitting across the landscape like a giant comb. Almost a full kilometre long, the duct is an impressive structure, and it dominates the windows of all the souvenir shops here in town. Amazingly, the entire stone structure is held together without a drop of binder or cement - just good old Roman know how with dowels and key stoned arches. It always amazes me how that civilization got so far and yet crumbled so spectacularly. But that's politics really, not engineering, so it is a completely different story...
The train from Barcelona was like being in first class on a pretty decent flight. You got a pre-meal drink, then a meal, and alcoholic drinks if you wanted them. The Spanish fast trains are really great. Mind you, the first class reservation here was pretty steep too, second class having been sold out. Christmas travel is picking up a bit, so our options are a little thinner but our flights and things for around Christmas are already set so that's good. Thundering across the Spanish landscape, we saw barren rocky plains filled with bulls (strange no cows) that gave way to thin pine forests, and also some low mountains with snow on them! Pretty beautiful country really, and it was spectacularly sunny, so everything was full of colour.
The quick transfer in Madrid for Segovia went well, and we had a 45 minute walk to the hostel at the other end. The beds here are fantastic with fluffy duvets even! You get more in Spain for the same price as you do in Say France or Italy. While we wandered around that night, most of our activity was the next day. We went to see the Alcazar, the former seat of Spanish royalty perched high above the two rivers below. The interior was decorated with medieval armour and lots of interesting rooms. This was followed by the large gothic cathedral (rebuilt because the old one was destroyed) and of course, time lurking around the aqueduct itself.
Everything Roman seems to come with cats, and sure enough there were a bunch of them hanging around the aqueduct. I read once that cats are attached to places and dogs to people, so maybe the cats were well fed by the Romans way back when, and successive generations of cats just keep sticking around until a dish of meow mix shows up. Who knows? All I know is that they are always there.
We're wearing our gloves for the second time today as well (the first was over the pass in Annapurna Nepal) signalling that even as we move southward, we cannot escape the European winter. It will be upon us in full force I'm sure in a week or two when we get to Switzerland. Yup. Winter.