Got up at 8 made the 830 bus to Madrid, took the metro to the Moncloa stop where there is a bus station. Walking briskly and made the 10 o’clock bus to El Escorial. When I checked the weather it said we would have 15 C temperatures high so I only grabbed a light jacket… mistake. It was cold and gloomy with tornado force winds. The lady at the tourism office was really nice and helped me figure out what to do and then offered to check if there was a direct bus back to Segovia instead of having to go through Madrid.
First I went to check out the Monasterio de El Escorial, a palace that Kind Phillip II built during the Counter Reformation starting around 1550. It consists of a school an extensive library, museums of paintings and tapestries, royal living quarters, a crypt and a basilica (amongst thousands of square feet of spaces the public never sets foot in). One of the short hallways was the square footage of our house back home… easily. Some of the painters I got to see were Michel Coxcie http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michiel_Coxie, and Rogues Van Der Weyden http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogier_van_der_Weyden
It only took about an hour and a half to see the Monastery (palace) so I wandered around for a while, but this city doenst have much to see other than the palace. The lady at the tourism office said to get to the bus station to buy the bus ticket to the Valley of the Fallen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valle_de_los_Ca%C3%ADdos) at around 2, so I went in to buy it but the guy said not until 3. Frozen from the high 40’s low 50’s I hopped into a café and grabbed lunch (turkey and goat cheese on a strange but delicious square piece of bread) and read my guide book…I learned a bunch of neat facts about my next destination.
When I went downstairs to the platform there were already a few people waiting for the bus, which cost 4 .60 Euros. None of the buses were marked so I asked an older lady that was sitting and she pointed out the one we should take., however a new bus arrived and switched its sign, no one seemed to notice so I pointed it out and we all got on the bus. It wound around the base of a steep mountain then tricked us descending back down, then got on its way. Crossing the bridge I was distracted watching people fish and didn’t get to my camera in time to see that there was a perfect view of the monument to the fallen. The girl and lady beside me mentioned Segovia so I decided to chime in, leading us to a discussion and ultimately spending the rest of the afternoon together. Patry is about my age and Maria is a bit older but they were hilarious and super fun to hang out with. Patry is from Paraguay and came to Spain 4 years ago looking for work and Maria is Brazilian and came with the same motives. It was fun to try and understand Marias Spanish/ Brazilian mix.
When we got off of the bus we were still talking…. We hadn’t realized that behind us was an amazing view of the enormous monument. This place is pretty controversial with Spaniards; it holds The Spanish Dictators tomb AND honors (and houses the remains of) the tens of thousands who were lost (on both sides) due to the Spanish Civil War. The construction of the monument caused the loss of about 50 more.
To construct the monument prisoners dug out more than 220,000 tons of granite from the mountain, the mine became the Basilica. Franco asked that the nave be built 300 yards long, a little more than St. Peters in Rome; when the pope came to bless the site he said he would only bless 262 yards of it. There was a cross made of a tree trunk, which they say was cut down by Francisco Franco himself. Behind the main alter, in the floor, is the cover of Franco’s tomb.
The bus dropped us of and said we have exactly 2 hours; by the time one hour had expired, we had seen all there was to see, so we just sat and talked and watched an unguided horse wander down the street.
When we got back to the bus station we decided not to take the 6 o clock bus since it was super full and instead we had a coffee and waited for the next one. Patry and Maria both live in Madrid so we got off at the same stop; after planning for them to visit Segovia at the end of the month and saying good bye to Maria and Patry I caught the metro and then my bus back to Segovia. Lesson learned it may be better to wait 30 minutes for a direct bus instead of taking nearly 2 hours on the Route bus.
When I got home I was anxious to finish making the pumpkin pies. While working in the kitchen, reflecting on the day, this hit me, “If you open your window to the world, it will open it’s to you. A cold breeze may sweep through, but more times than not it will be songbirds and sunshine.
I took out the dough and rolled it out, well first I had to find a rolling pin, nowhere to be found that’s because Daniel threw away the big glass bottle I had planned on using… resourcefulness is a quality we should strive to develop… no corkscrew put a regular screw in it and get some pliers… I promise it works… use your imagination.
The dough came out beautifully, rolled to the right thickness without breaking and cooked nicely. The pumpkin pie filling itself didn’t set firmly enough ( I cant cook by recipe just go by what looks and feels right [partly because we don’t have a measuring cup here yet] so I guess for the amount I made I should have added more eggs. I had some left over pastry so I rolled it out and made a little strawberry jelly empanada, which made a nice treat. So, if butter is not needed to make pie crust why so much hype about the necessity of butter in making pie crust?