Saturday, October 15, 2016

Country Roads

Saturated with sights seen, shopped and dropped, no room for any more tapas.

What´s a girl with house guests to do?

Head for the hills. Boot it for the country. Show them another side of Spain.

We headed toward El Escorial, turned off the main highway, and drove down a bumpy country road, parking the car when we could drive no further. We left the car, unlatched the gate, and started on our way. We were headed for Felipe's Seat, a royal lookout over El Escorial and Madrid.

Felipe´s Sceat is a lookout point said to have been used by Felipe II to oversee construction of El Escorial. Apart from a bird´s eye view of the monastery and environs, the area has some nice hiking trails through the Herreria Forest. We came through an area called Los Ermitanos. The path was wide and clearly marked with red and white trail markers, taking us by some private residences (hence the gates - feel free to use the paths, but remember to close the gates!), through a forest of wild cherry, Montpellier maple, and chestnut trees, a picnic area, and two lookouts. It´s possible to drive almost all the way to Felipe´s Seat (there is even a bar up there...this is Spain, remember?), and start the hikes from there, but then you´d be missing out on a lovely country walk.

There were stairs up to both lookouts, and otherwise the climb was barely noticeable. Felipe´s Seat is a kind of throne carved into granite. There are three viewing areas, the most popular is an actual pair of stone seats with arm rests facing North, toward the Monastery of El Escorial. If you´ve been there, you know it´s big, but it is quite something to see just how much space it takes up. Truly an impressive building. 

We came back into the city feeling refreshed and ready for a cozy night in, dinner, tea, and organizing photos. It´s getting chilly out there!

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