Travel blog series on Spain.

Spain blog travel series

Travel blog series on Spain.

In case this is your first visit to my blog… this is a list of over twenty cities in Spain to see and each name links to the blog post with travel tips, suggestions of where to eat, what to see and more.

The intention of the series on Spain is to provide insider travel tips and showcase main cities as well as locations that might not be on everyone’s “to see list” but that should be.

Enjoy! and please remember to visit The Monica Store for photo prints of Spain that are available as canvas prints and framed photos  for decorating your home or office!

Alcala de Henares

Aranjuez

Avila

Avila’s Medieval Festival

Barcelona – Part One –Park Guell, Cathedral…

Barcelona – Part Two – Casa Mila, Casta Batllo, Sagrada Familia

Cordoba

Cuenca

El Escorial

Extremadura Part One

Extremadura Part Two

Castle of Manzanares

Granada

La Granja

Madrid Part One

Madrid Part Two

Ronda

Salamanca

Santiago de Compostela

Segovia

Sevilla

Siguenza

Toledo

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Travel Tips for Segovia, Spain

Segovia, Spain - Alcazar

What to see and do in Segovia, Spain

If you want to see a fairytale castle and not travel to Disney World go to Segovia, Spain!

Segovia, Spain is another easy day trip city that you can get to from Madrid. I have always taken a bus but now you can take the train and be there in 30 minutes!

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There is a lot to see in Segovia and you start out right away by walking down a main street right towards the Roman Aqueduct, so you obviously will not miss this site. The aqueduct is an impressive site as it spans from one hill to the other.

Follow the pedestrian street along the aqueduct and up into the city where you will pass interesting buildings and churches including the 11th century church of San Martin – note the adorable details on the exterior column capitals.

The main road will lead you to the Plaza Mayor and the Cathedral. The Cathedral of Segovia was built between 1525 and 1577 in the late Gothic style so it is very dramatic and has an imposing and grand presence. The cloister is beautiful as well.

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The Castle in Segovia

Then there is the main attraction, the fairytale castle or the Alcazar of Segovia. This is truly a picturesque castle with towers, stone walls, and is built on top of a rocky hill. The Alcazar was originally built as an Arab fort, later used as a royal palace, military academy, and state prison (perhaps not the worst place to be incarcerated).

You can see most of the rooms in the castle, many of which are elaborately decorated. One room has elegant stained-glass windows that look out onto the valley below and it is quite a sight. There is also the Hall of the Kings with a frieze representing all the Spanish Kings and Queens! And don’t forget to climb the Tower of John II of Castile from which you get views of the whole city and the surrounding land.

To get a great view of the Alcazar (the one you see in most photographs of it), you have to walk down the hill to the green pasture right below the castle. There are various routes, none of which are clearly marked with any sort of sign saying “this way to the panoramic view of the Alcazar.” Each time I have done this I have walked down differently so really you just have to look for a path heading down (helpful I know). While down there – go to the grassy pasture, cross the river and get your photographs of the Alcazar while admiring its strategic location. (This is also where you can see that it is shaped like the bow of a ship).

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If you make the effort to find your way down to the bottom of the hill you must stop to see the Vera Cruz Church. It is not always open, and I have only actually been able to see in the inside once, but the Vera Cruz Church is a darling 11th century church that deserves a visit.

There are other interesting buildings to see in Segovia but these are the main sites. I have been to Segovia in all weather conditions but I can say it is quite chilly at any time of year.

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A note on food options… the delicacy of the area happens to be suckling pig which comes with no disguises, so be prepared for that!

Otherwise enjoy your trip to Segovia and see below for some helpful links!

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Helpful Info for traveling to Segovia, Spain:

1 – For train information visit Rail Europe for schedules and fares.

2 – For the official tourism site for Segovia, Spain click here.

3 – For more information on the Alcazar of Segovia click here.

Travel tips for Ronda, Spain

On to South of Spain to the city of Ronda!

Ronda is a great city to visit and as always there is a lot to see. I took the train from Madrid to Ronda, which took almost four hours but the train is worth it because you see the countryside change as you go south.

From the train station in Ronda I took a cab to my hotel. The cab driver asked if I had ever been to Ronda and when I said no he proudly acted as a tour guide and pointed out important buildings, historical cites, and gave little historical fact as we drove through the city. Local charm and city pride is strong and it was refreshing!

Below I will highlight the sights to see in Ronda but first just a little overview…the city of Ronda sits on a canyon and a deep gorge divides the city, the El Tajo canyon. There are three bridges; Puente Nuevo is the tallest of three bridges in Ronda, towering 120 metres (390 ft) above the canyon floor and the bridge from which you get the most spectacular views.

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What to see in Ronda, Spain:

1 – Puente Nuevo – the tallest bridge.

2 – Plaza de Toros which is the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain, built in 1784. You pay a small fee and you get to see the entire ring, the bull pens, and a small but interesting museum about the history of bullfighting in the area.

3 – The Arab Baths or the Banos arabes – these baths were built in the 13th and 14th centuries. You can visit the baths which are located below the city (a bit hard to find but it is noted on the tourist map so not impossible). And I highly recommend watching the video about the history of the baths –most interesting is how they got water into the baths to create steam which involved a large wheel pulled by a donkey!

4 – The Palace of the Arabian King or Casa del Rey Moro – While you cannot see the house you can visit the gardens which are lovely and provide great views of the city and the canyon.

5 – Palace of Mondragon or the Museo Municipal – This house has a small museum and again, wonderful gardens and patios!

6 – Arch of Philip V or Puerta de Felipe V – A gate built in 1742 that serves as one of the three entrances to the city. Make sure to walk all the way down to the gate to get the entire view of it.

These are the main sights but I would also suggest walking through the old town which has wide cobbled streets and charming buildings. Also do not miss seeing the sunset which tends to be quite spectacular here!

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And a few other tidbits about Ronda:

When to go to Ronda: well all I can advise is that if you go in the summer it is very hot and that the Spanish siesta is a must in order to survive the midday heat.

What to eat in Ronda…all Spanish food is very good but if you happen to be a vegetarian it can be a bit trying since Spaniards do love their meat dishes. Luckily I like tomatoes because this is what I ate for three days while in Ronda. In the summer in Spain you can get tomato salads and gazpacho which is nutritious and filling. Although I do think if I had gone another three days on that diet I would have turned the color red.

Try eating at one of the restaurants with balconies that hang right over the canyon, unless of course you are afraid of heights in which case you would probably loose your appetite and therefore ruin the whole concept of rooftop dining.

Overall Ronda is another interesting city to visit in Spain!

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Helpful Info for traveling to Ronda, Spain:

1 – For train information visit Rail Europe for schedules and fares.

2 – For more information about what to see in Ronda click here for the Ronda information and tourism site.

Travel tips and photos for Aranjuez, Spain

Over twenty cities in Spain in 2 months…. These summer months about Spain, continues with the city of Aranjuez.

Aranjuez is another city that is very close to Madrid. I highly recommend taking the Strawberry Train and visiting Aranjuez for the day. (See below for travel info and useful links).

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The main attraction in Aranjuez is the Royal Palace (Palacio Real). This 18th century palace is truly a grand structure with arcades, elegant towers, and of course expansive gardens – the Prince’s Gardens (Jardin del Principe). The palace gardens could take a whole day to walk through. There are fountains, long promenades, rose gardens, gazebos, statues, and elegant marble benches.

The town itself is charming and includes a large square surrounded by brick arcades – these make up the majority of my photographs of Aranjuez as the light creates dramatic shadows. You can see these photographs of Aranjuez on my store site.

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During a day trip, one must of course stop for lunch and in Aranjuez you arrive by the Strawberry Train to a city that is known for growing strawberries and another Spanish delicacy, white asparagus! So you are guaranteed a scrumptious meal upon visiting Aranjuez.

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** Eating in Spain, plus important tips for vegetarians

Spanish Cultural tidbit – White asparagus is served cold with mayonnaise – yum!

Also in case you are vegetarian, as am I, if you order a salad it will automatically come with a large mound of tuna right in the middle of your gorgeous greens and vine ripe tomatoes. Now if you are a vegetarian that eats seafood, no problem; but if you don’t eat seafood then you have to explicitly ask for a salad without tuna – “ensalada sin atun.” You will get a funny look of utter disbelief but if you smile nicely and kind of shrug in an apologetic way you might be lucky and get what you ask for. Vegetarian food is still a novelty in Spain (and more on that later on this month).

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Aranjuez is worth the day trip. The summer months can be rather hot but the arcades provide shade. For any architecture lover it is worth a visit! And in case you like geese (I’m a big fan) – there is a pond of shallow water right inside the palace at the beginning of the gardens where you will find a gaggle of geese standing in the water and all facing one direction. At least that is what I found at that pond and it makes a rather humorous viewing. You can see the photograph on the store site – click here for photo of geese on The Monica Store.

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Fun Facts about Aranjuez:
1 – The Aranjuez cultural landscape is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
2 – Aranjuez became the residence of the kings of Spain in the late 19th century, a residence they used for the spring season.
3 – Only relatives of the king were allowed to live in Aranjuez until 1808.

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Information – how to get to Aranjuez:
1 – You can take the regular Cercanias train from the Atocha railway station in Madrid.
2 – You can also take a bus from the South Bus Station in Madrid.
3 – Or you can take the Strawberry Train (Tren de la Fresa), which I recommend! This is an old style railway service that runs Saturdays and Sunday from the 28th of April to July 1st, and from the 15th of September to October 14th.

For more travel info and specifics click here.