In 1999, my family spent several weeks of our summer vacation in Spain. We used a family friend’s tiny guest apartment in Madrid as a “home base” to travel all around the country. At 7 years old, I can’t pretend that I remember much about the trip beyond some sporadic memories, but a big photo album full of shots from the trip helps.
Some of my favorite pictures were taken in a small town just outside of Madrid called Segovia. Its massive Roman aqueduct that cuts through the center of the town and the XII century Alcázar have led to Segovia being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What I remember most from visiting Segovia is seeing dozens of cows lounging underneath the immense arches of the aqueduct and a roomful of real suits of armor filling the Alcázar, which was like something out of a storybook or movie!
I have looked at these photos countless times, and (with the exception of the acqueduct photo) I had never had a single clue where they were taken. We spent a month being tourists in the most castle-ridden region of Spain….a lot of the photos look similar.
Flash forward to 2015, when my friends and I were planning a few days in Madrid as part of our Spring vacation while working as English teachers in France. We wanted to include a day trip outside of Madrid and after a bit of research (which mostly involved me recalling names of towns that I knew my family had visited), we decided on Segovia.
Doing research for this trip meant browsing photos of the city’s famous sites and suddenly things started looking awfully familiar! I was suddenly even MORE excited to visit the randomly-chosen Segovia, because it would mean passing through the same scenes as those photographs I had so often studied.
This time around, we also had a real live Madrileña to give us some tips about Segovia, and she introduced us to the culinary specialty from Segovia: conchinillo, a suckling piglet so tender that many chefs make a show of cutting it with a porcelain plate. That is really a story within itself, but definitely a dining experience for the ages. I promise to write about it sometime!
After our pig, we hiked up to the Alcazár. I entered the room with all the suits of armor and immediately felt a weird form of nostalgia. I wasn’t necessarily remembering being there at age 7, but the act of looking at 15-year-0ld photos of my 7-year-old self there has created its own strange and slightly surreal kind of memory.
That night safely back in Madrid, I could not have been more excited to send my mom the photos we had taken that day. ❂
Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.