Where does a princess like to spend New Year’s Eve? Why, at a palace, natch.
I have seen two palaces in the last four days; I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. Aranjuez or La Granja?
The site of today’s outing, La Granja (“The Farm”), is just over the mountains near Segovia. Unfortunately, the Palace was closed today. The gardens, however, were open so we went for a ramble.
Terraced up the side of a mountain, the gardens are chock full of fountains, none of which were working at this time of year.
The silence of the park was pierced only by the occasional jet overhead or the crack of a rifle, off in the woods.
Thing 1, still recovering from college, and Thing 2, recovering from a night of PlayStation at a friend’s house, stopped at El Estanque Quadrado (Square Pond) while the rest of us ambled up the hill to El Mar (The Sea). A large reservoir, created to catch the snow runoff to feed the fountains, El Mar also became Franco’s fishing grounds.
As we wandered up the hill, we trailed two elderly gentlemen walking together at a slow pace. Occasionally, they would stop to chat and gesticulate with their hands. When we caught up to them, they wished us a Prospero Año. Brothers in their eighties, Alvaro and Demetrio chatted to us about the park, pointing out the Puente de Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) made of twisted timber. It is called that, they said, because people would sigh upon finally reaching the top. They showed us a grotto and were game to take us around the reservoir. When we told them we’d left two teens at the lower pond, Alvaro quipped, “Cobardes!” (cowards). He was right. They missed some of the best parts! Demetrio lives in Madrid but Alvaro is a resident in the town of La Granja de San Ildefonso and he walks up the hill and around El Mar every Sunday. Clearly, this weekly trek has kept him fit and feliz.
Lunch at Reina XIV and we considered ourselves royalty.
Prospero Año to all!