castles and a prince

The last 4 days have been a whirlwind of touristic adventures because my boyfriend Joey has been visiting… Within 4 days we visited 3 castles, 3 churches, and some of the most famous restaurants in Madrid. We started off on Saturday in Manzares el Real, a quaint town right on the Manzares River. The main highlight there is a beautifully maintained castle. The castle looks like what one might dream of a castle looking like, with 4 tall towers. The castle overlooks the rest of the town and provides a great view of the river valley.

Also right outside of town is a national park featuring interesting rock formations and hiking trails. We did a walk along the river up a small hill in order to get a panoramic view of the entire area. Back in town, we ate at Casa Goya, an excellent restaurant with cascading vines along the outside walls situated directly across from a very old church. To reach Manzares el Real from Madrid, you must take an hour long bus ride from a metro terminal. To say the least, it is not a pleasant trip, but it is worth it to see the preserved castle as well as the remains of an even older structure and the pretty landscape.

In order to fuel up for a day trip to Segovia on Sunday, we went to 5 Jotas for dinner on Saturday night. We had an appetizing plate of ham and tomato bread, then had duck with purple potatoes. Dessert was a chocolate tart, complete with champagne! Sunday morning, we were up early and off to catch the high speed train to Segovia. The train gets you there fast, and once there we were ready to get going. We decided to just walk towards the town as opposed to waiting for a taxi, since we thought it couldn’t be that far. But we were wrong, it was super far! We managed to flag down a taxi eventually and got dropped off in front of a castle even more spectacular than the one at Manzares. The castillo de Segovia was also still preserved very well, and is situated high up on a cliff, with a moat in front to make it easily defensible. The view from the Tower of John offers breathtaking scenery from all 4 sides.

Directly across from the castle is the Gothic church of Segovia, which has an impressive collection of artwork and displays the pinnacle of Gothic architecture, as it is likely the last church built in the Gothic style in Spain. Down the street from the church is a Roman aquaduct which remains in great form. The aquaduct towers over a town square and links up with the old city walls of Segovia. After a day of exploring the top three tourist attractions in Segovia, by the time we got back to Madrid we were starving so we headed to Casa Ciriaco for a tasty Castillian meal. Our fish, steak, and sopa castillano were all mouthwatering and so fulfilling. For dessert, we headed to the mercado Anton Martin, then checked out a selection of local bars on the walk back home.

Monday & Tuesday were packed with culinary adventures & sightseeing in Madrid… including my first visit to the Prado! And my discovery of an excellend au gratin in Spain, seafood au gratin served at the Cafe de Oriente is to die for! Now Joey is packing up to head back to Louisiana & I’m getting ready to go to Budapest tomorrow night.  We are both exhausted from a few days of go go go, but it was totally worth it in order to see everything we were able to see and try some fantastic food. My prince is headed home, but the castles remain here; many more waiting to be explored… The princess is on the move…


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