After doing a bit of film research, as I do, I realized that I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit one of the inspirations behind Cinderella’s castle. A day trip to Segovia was in order.
Despite leaving my hostel in Madrid with more than enough time to catch my train to Segovia, I actually found myself sprinting through the terminal to catch my train to Segovia. Because of course. I had roughly three different people scold me in Spanish for showing up AT the time of departure rather than five minutes early. The joke was on them, however…because I don’t speak Spanish.
I made the train. But I also didn’t trust the guard/employee to tell me truthfully which stop I was meant to get off at. I was under the impression that there were two train stops in Segovia (there aren’t) and when I asked him if I should get off at the first, he said yes (rather hurriedly, as if he was irritated I was even on the train.)
Well, I got off at the Segovia stop, determined to ask an employee at the station about whether or not I was in the right place.
Awesome. (Also! I feel this the proper time to mention that the train claimed that the temperature was 12c/54f at my point of arrival. It was wrong.)
So I follow the one other person who got off the train with me to the barren outside (like really…it looked like a desert. Nothing around at all.) There were two buses there and, of course, both drivers spoke about as much English as I speak Spanish. After a bit of charades, hasty utilization of CityMapper technology, and some poor attempts at Spanglish, I climbed onto the correct bus and made my 30-minute journey into the center of the city.
I stepped off the bus at the aqueduct and there was frost on the ground. Great.
I wanted to catch the 10:30 tour, but I was roughly 30 minutes early, so I wandered around and found a chocolate croissant for breakfast. In the 10 minutes I was in the restaurant, this happened.
Entirely out of the blue, a dense fog rolled in, obscuring all but what was directly in front of me. …well then… (Obviously this city is haunted. Get out now.)
I went to the tourist office to ask about the tour only to discover that the tour had been canceled due to lack of interest (as in, I was the only one. Of course.) So I was given a map (that I had to pay for…after the canceled tour…) and was told to wander on my own. Cool.
What follows are some extremely foggy photos of Segovia.
I journeyed to the far side of Segovia, through the fog, to visit Alcázar Castle (the inspiration behind this entire trip in the first place.) This castle, originally built in the 12th century, served as the residence of King Alfonso VIII. It has served many purposes throughout its history and is now open to the public as a museum.
My interest in it, however, lies in what it inspired–that is, Alcázar de Segovia was one of a few castles throughout Europe that Walt Disney used to design Cinderella’s castle at Disneyworld.
Alcázar was beautiful…but old castles are drafty (and my promised 12c was actually 2c/35f,) so I decided to skip climbing the tower “for the view” and get some blood flowing by walking around the city some more. I’d heard rumor that there was a Jewish quarter and in a city of this size, I was slightly surprised. I set out to find it.
I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me. Sephardic Jews came from Spain. It was only natural that this part of the country had a large Jewish population. It was a smidge disheartening though, to find the Jewish Quarter and have this be the first thing I see:
Undeterred, I wandered until I came upon the heart of the Jewish Quarter (Judería,) where I found Centro Didáctico de la Judería, a museum expounding on the history of the Jewish people in Spain. It was small, only two rooms, but it had heat (!) so I spent quite a bit of time there, reading every morsel and nugget of information.
Looming over the Jewish Quarter of the city is the enormous Cathedral. When I left the Judería, the fog had cleared a bit, so I got another picture of it.
Either way, at this point I was wet (fog = water) and I was cold and began to feel a tickle in the back of my throat, so I set out to find a restaurant where I could eat and waste some time before my train back. (As it turns out, when you aren’t following a tour guide and it’s too cold to read a guide of your own, it doesn’t take all that long to walk the entirety of Segovia.)
I wound up sitting in a cold restaurant for an hour, reading a book and listening to music to pass the time. After all that, I still left for the train station early (which was a smart move because I found a coffee bar at the train station that was warmer. Score!) and made my trek back to Madrid.
Alison’s Recommendations: Make this trip when it’s warmer. Make this trip with at least four others so you get a tour. Make this trip in conjunction with another such as Avila because you don’t need that much time for either city.
Edit: I got all the way down here and realized that I hadn’t explained my blog title. The truth of it is, no matter how many times I looked at pictures or read descriptions of this small town, I couldn’t get The Princess Diaries out of my head. In my mind, I was visiting the small country of Genovia. I kept this to myself because it was a stupid thing to think…but when I called my mother immediately after the trip to tell her all about it, she mentioned the exact same thing! Couldn’t be a coincidence. So…new head-canon. I visited the realm of Queen Mia rather than Cinderella.