A Stormy Day in Segovia
Wednesday November 9, I woke up, rolled over in bed and read the news about Trump becoming president. Needless to say, the whole day I was in shock, completely overwhelmed and confused. At first, I really thought that it was a joke. I partially felt guilty for not being in America to take part in such an important day, yet I was also a bit relieved to be removed from all of the political drama. On the metro I saw people furiously scrolling through their phones reading the news about Trump, I heard two Spaniards ranting about how “loco” Americans are. It all felt wrong. For one of the first times I actually felt ashamed of my own country. In order to escape the frantic Facebook posts, judgmental stares and relentless questions, Nicole and I decided to go to Segovia for the day. Segovia is small, historic town north of Madrid well known for the Roman aqueduct, giant gothic cathedral, and royal palace.
To get there we took a metro, a Cercanias train, switched at Chamartin and took another train which in total it took 2.5 hours and costed 3,80€ (with our Madrid metro cards). On the way back we just took the Sepulvedana bus for 7,90€ which only takes an hour. I highly recommend spending the extra 4€ to save the time and hassle!
Segovia has a very traditional Spanish feel compared to Madrid. It still has the same small streets, old stone churches and touristy areas; however, there are no bright lights, no metro stops or Gran Vías. It is quiet town with a significantly older local population.
We spent some time admiring the Roman Aqueduct in the center of town. While the construction date of the aqueduct is not known exactly, recent research says that it was built around 112 AD. For being so old it is super well preserved!
We walked a bit, grabbed a quick lunch, strolled around Plaza Mayor and checked out at the massive cathedral. It’s impossible to miss! The tower of the cathedral is actually the tallest cathedral tower in all of Spain, even taller than La Giralda in Seville.
As we continued down toward the royal palace we impulsively decided to try a local dessert (which I suppose is now our new traveling tradition) called ponche, made of eggs, flour, sugar, cream, and marzipan. We split half of a loaf for 3€. It was delicious!
We stumbled upon a free art gallery in an old museum with a pretty patio and listened to a man playing accordion in an open air plaza next to a church. Also along the main street are some small, touristy shops with local craftsmen, jewelry, pottery, baskets and vases.
At the end of the street there is a fancy gate into the gardens and castle grounds. The Alcázar of Segovia is perched on the edge of a rocky cliff, so you have nice views over the plains and tiny, old outskirts of town. Because of the massive amounts of tourists Nicole and I decided to skip out on going into the palace. But it was still nice enough to see it from the outside.
After breezing past the tourists we escaped out to stroll through the nearby, neighborhood area. There were stray cats, stone archways, graffiti and stone walls covered in ivy. Some of the apartments and houses look like they are straight out of a fairy-tale story.
The cobblestone streets were empty and quiet, which gave me an eerie-end of the world feeling (seemingly appropriate for our nightmare of an election day). But it was felt nice to be able to forget reality and enjoy the small details of the city, like these funny little sculpted men that I found on the side of an apartment door! Imagine how cool it would be to have these guys greeting you every time you come home.
The first time that I came to Segovia in 2015 it was over 100° F! So it felt quite different to be bundled up in jackets and scarves, definitely gave the town a new personality. And while it was a bit cold and grey, it felt good to not be in a crowded city on such a strange, emotional day. We were *almost* able to forget about the political chaos back at home.
The rest of the week at my two schools I was bombarded by questions from both students and teachers about the election. Many of the Spanish teachers approached me randomly and said, “Lo siento mucho” (I’m so sorry). In one of my classes instead of continuing with the lesson plan, we talked about American politics and history for the entire class. It turns out that these students (about 14-15 years old) had never heard of the Civil War, didn’t actually know what Martin Luther King did, and had no idea who Native Americans are. I was amazed at the lack of knowledge they had about American history, but then I realized… its not like I was ever educated on Spanish history in middle school either.
In regards to the election, they asked me various questions:
- How did Trump win?
- Who actually voted for him?
- Did you cry when you found out?
- Do you think we will have a third world war?
- How many black people are in America? Did they vote for Trump?
- Will he really build a wall?
- Do you think Trump is the new Hitler?
- Why can’t Michelle be president?
- How did the Simpsons predict the future?
I didn’t know exactly how to respond (especially in regards to the Simpsons question – Like HOW? I still don’t get it). These questions were seemingly innocent in the moment; however, they terrified me all the same, and have been racking my brain ever since.
Today is Wednesday November 16, exactly a week has passed since the election. While I cannot truly tell the emotional state of my country from over here in Madrid, it doesn’t seem like Americans have fully accepted the reality of our new president. People here in Spain haven’t either! Spaniards have continued asking me about how Trump’s choices will affect climate change and international politics, but the truth is that it is too early to tell.
All that I do know is that whether Trump is president or not, at least places like Segovia still exist for us to escape from reality for a couple of hours. Next time you have a free afternoon in Madrid, or next time that Trump says something stupid (which will surely be soon) head to Segovia!