|Date:||September 4, 2000|
|Location:||Barcelona to Segovia|
After the same old breakfast (NO pears today!), we hit the road, carrying our bags over to a charter bus that takes us to the airport. Brig buys us another excellent ham & cheese sandwich, and a horchata (almond milk). I catch a couple of chapters of Moby (the start of the first whale hunt, where Ahab's "devils" finally reveal themselves). The plane to Madrid is a little over an hour late (on time for "spanish time", but late for Catalan -- who are known as prompt timekeepers and hard workers). While waiting, we eat our sandwiches and chat.
In Madrid, we meet our bus driver, Santos, and leave for Segovia. The area seems extremely similar in character to Southern California -- very dry, and with pleasant temperatures. Another similarity to SoCal: There's lots of evidence of grass fires. It's been pretty dry, the last few years.
Segovia's main distinguishing feature is a 93 foot high Roman acqueduct, 2400 feet long. It's in good condition, but was taken out of all service by the 19th century. Traffic vibration and pollution are now compromising its integrity.
The hotel (Hotel Linajes = "Lineages") is fabulous. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it's a gem -- clean and new throughout, and very comfortable.
As a prelude to dinner, we meet in the hotel salon for wine, olives, and... the buddy introductions. Jack I. does a very credible bio for me. I extemporize, but get most things sort of right. A very effective technique for familiarizing everyone with each other.
Dinner is at Meson de Candido, overlooking the acqueduct. The restaurant has been owned by the same family for over 300 years, and is famous. The walls are covered in photos of the owner and various famous personages of Spanish and international origin, including Salvadore Dali. Dinner begins with several appetizers: chorizo (completely unrelated to Mexican chorizo, other than the fact that they are both sausages), stewed oyster mushrooms, marinated skinny asparagus, and a salad with cheese and fresh tuna. All are wonderful. Then, a very hearty soup, packed with the biggest, meatiest beans you ever saw (yay!), along with chunks of pork fat (boo!). Then, the main course, roast suckling pig. This is presented in a ceremony. The story goes that this dish was reserved for the crown, and could be served only by his leave. The owner testifies to this, and then reads us our proclamation that we are to be served our piggie. He then wields a dish, which he uses to rapidly carve the pig in 7 or 8 strokes, after which, he tosses the plate to the floor, where it shatters. All just part of the ceremony. We are each served good-sized portions of Miss Piggie, and she is absolutely delicious, with incredibly crisp skin and succulent flesh.
For dessert, a Segovia specialty dessert of cake with a custard filling, marzipan sheet covering, and accompaniment of ice cream. Luscious.
We haul our piggie butts back across town to the hotel. (Now that we have a bus, we have "deep storage" capability. So, along the way, several tour members scavenge cardboard boxes in which to keep their bootie.)
I ate too much pig to have scarf down my customary nightly grapefruit. Tomorrow, perhaps.