Holy Toledo!

Trip Start Nov 24, 2009
Trip End Dec 09, 2009

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Castile-La Mancha,
Sunday, December 6, 2009

As a day trip to show me a little more of Spain Carlos, Tory and I decide to head for Toledo, an ancient city just 70km south of Madrid. Toledo has been inhabited since the Bronze Age and throughout it's history has been important economic and political center for the Romans, Visigoths Moors and Christian Spanish kingdoms. Since Tory has only been here for a month and hasn't seen any of the sights this was a good opportunity for her to see some of her new home's culture. As it turned out, Carlos hadn't been here either so everyone was getting a new experience!

The drive was about 45 minutes as the highway passed through the Spanish plains, which were spattered with elements of economic industrialization just like you would expect to see along some of the highways back at home. We pass by large warehouses, occasional suburbs and even Ikea. It really wasn't any different than driving outside of Boise, except for the fact that everything was in Spanish (go figure!) We pull up to the town, pass through the gates and head up the hill through the narrow winding streets in search of parking. Toledo is situated on steep hills so we anticipate a lot of climbing throughout the day and look for parking as high as we can find it.

Make no mistake, even though there is a resident population historic Toledo is preserved for tourism. It's a dry medieval city with a fairly consistent beige color due tot he bricks and stones it is made of. Shops and restaurants line it's busier streets, most of which are barely wide enough for both cars and pedestrians and the smaller streets one has to yield to the other. Toledo is historically famous for it's metalurgy and production of bladed weapons, a fact which is not forgotton since most the souvenier shops all sell swords, knives and some even had suits of armour. I found it particularly funny that many of these pieces were not even culturally relevant, such as the Japanese samurai swords or the collectable weapons from the film 300 or the Lord of the Rings trilogy! For a moment I did envision myself purchasing a large bullwhip, getting lost in some Indiana Jones fantasy but I quickly recovered before I pulled out my wallet. ;-)

We walk all around the maze of city streets catching the sights such as the Alcazar, the Cathedral od Toledo and the house of El Greeco. It is very differnt feeling than I got from the old towns in Poland or Prague, not just because of the culture but I think because the architecture relected the climate and geography of the area as well as it's age. This place just looked old, and there were obvious middle eastern influences left over from the Moorish occupation. Walking in Toledo can be quite a challenge at times, especially if you are in any sort of heel as Tory was. The streets are cobbled like many ithers I had run across in the old towns of Europe, but these were particularly more uneven and the stones were more rounded. Any chance you found a strech of flat concrete you were compelled to traverse it for as long as you could. Also, since the streets were so narrow I found myself constantly turning sideways to let people or even cars pass by. You would never think just walking the streets could be so mentally exhausting!

Just as we needed the rest we sat down for some tapas at an outdoor cafe and simply relaxed, visited and enjoyed the surroundings. It is a place like no other I've been with a rich history it maintains for all to see while the world grows up around it. None of which was more evident than a car cruising by us several times bouncing hip-hop beats off of the ancient walls...truly a dichotomy in action!
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Ace Diamond on

Spain is the city I most want to see in Europe. You be a lucky som' bitch. Tell the front butt i'll be there soon...

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