A Roman town, later abandoned for three hundred years following the Islamic conquest of Spain, when the region fell into the no-man’s land between Christian and Islamic Spain, and repopulated after the conquest of Toledo by Alfonso VI in 1085, Segovia is known today for its amazing Roman aqueduct, its cathedral and the alcazar, the royal castle that looks just out of a fairy-tale. But the number 1 thing that every Spaniard told me as soon as I mentioned Alan and I would be going to Segovia is that when in that city, one MUST have a cochinillo at Mesón de Candido. Cochinillo is a roasted suckling pig that is supposed to be very typical of Segovia. Another typical dish of the region is judiones, large white beans cooked in a number of ways. To cut the travel report to a minimum, I’ll focus on the top-five of my trip:

Pl. de San Martí – much less touristy than the Plaza Mayor, we found a local bar, frequented mostly by locals who all seemed to know one another, where we could sit outside and appreciate the view of the city below.

Plaza S. Martin

Tapas – central and southern Spain is the land of tapas and while in touristy establishments you are likely to be charged for them, in local places the tradition still survives of getting a free tapas with every drink you order. At our favourite spot at Pl. S. Martin that usually meant two canape-style piece of bread with either tortilla, sausage, anchovies, etc per drink. You could also order 12 pieces for 6 euros. Other options included 1/4 size grilled ham and cheese sandwiches or a plate of chips. By the way, you don’t order a specific free tapa with your drink, the waiter chooses something. I love it.

Small-town feeling – I love visiting the small towns of Spain. I particularly enjoy spending multiple days in the nice ones where tourists usually only spend the day. People are friendly, you quickly get recognized at the local bar, and its nice to be able to walk everywhere and not have to worry about safety.

Nature – the town is in a very nice place, surrounded by towering mountains at a distance, and lots of green places around the old city. Alan and I went exploring some of the off-the-beaten path places outside the walls of the city and found an incredible path that went around the whole city. It might have been an ancient moat that was later adapted as a walking path. We were there in the morning, the air was crisp, there were lots of birds around, and the diffuse light breaking through the trees plus the fluff floating in the air made the place quite magical. Locals seem to use the path to walk or jog and I’d definitely take up running if I lived in Segovia. With all the free tapas, it would certainly be a necessity ;)


The conference – It was the best conference I have ever been. We even made to the local news in Segovia (both printed and live)! The conference was small – perhaps about 30-40 people altogether – and most of us were staying at the same hotel, with breakfast and lunch included. The hotel set a separate dining room for us so we all had meals together and since there was only one session at a time, we also saw each other at each session of the conference. That allowed us to get to know one another and although the schedule was tough (the first session started at 9:30 AM and the last one ended at 9 pm, with a two-hour lunch in the middle of the day), I got to chat quite a bit with scholars from all over the place. I was particularly happy for the opportunity of meeting Miriam Bodian and Mary Elizabeth Perry, two well-known and respected scholars who turned out to be quite nice and friendly. My paper went really well, I got lots of questions and was able to answer them well (I think). I got lots of praise in front of my supervisor, which was very nice. There was talk of having the next conference (in 2010) in Cuenca, another interesting historical town. Can’t wait!

You can read (much) more about the trip and see more photos at Alan’s blog:
Off to Segovia
Arrival in Segovia
Segovia – Day two
Segovia – Day three

He tells me there’s one more post coming, so stay tuned to his blog.

Click on the picture below for a slideshow of the pictures I took in Segovia, I’ll try to add some text in coming days.

Segovia slide show

People at Canada Day

Waiting for the concert...

Chris is South African and wants to sail the world... we had a really nice chat

People young girl buying a snake

Crowds everywhere


Alan yelled “look at the cameraman!”, she yelled back “camerawoman!!” sorrry…

Alec is a friend’s son. A very active little boy, he wasn’t shy at all! I should have fixed the white spot on the side, but I’m just too lazy today…

Watching the world go by...

Toronto beach

And who said Toronto doesn’t have a beach?

Festes de Santa Eulália, Photos pt 1

As promised, here are some of the pictures I took last weekend during the Festes de Santa Eulália. As I mentioned before, the festival was dedicated to children and they were out in great numbers and dressed in various costumes:

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

Lining up

This little girl posed for me. When her parents saw me pointing my camera at her they told her “mira la nena!” and they kindly moved out of the frame. Isn’t she the cutest little princess? But try as I might the kid on the right would not look at me…

Little Princess Catalan diversity

These guys were cute too and were getting ready to perform:

Fooling around

Little girl meeting the big head

Cute little girls watching the shows:


girls dancing

people watching

And now for the cutest thing I saw all day:


A backpacker went through the square just before and splashed his face at the fountain. This little girl, who was probably no older than 2, stood at the very tips of her feet, wet her hands and tried to immitate the backpacker. It was tooo cute!

You can see lots more pictures of the festival here. It includes some pictures of previous festivals, but I’m sure you won’t mind!

Drinking fountains

In the past couple of years, I’ve been dedicating myself more and more to photography. I took a travel photography course in April 2005, the same month I had three 20-page papers due and my PhD Latin exam. Going for shooting sessions with Alan on saturdays allowed me to get my mind off my studies while helping me write better papers. I’ve become more and more keen about it and have always a few photo projects going on. This is one I’ve been really enjoying:

Drinking fountains