Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Well hello there.  Sorry for not blogging in a while.  I assure you that my life has been as equally/more boring than your life and who wants to read about that?  However, now that the Spanish government has finally graced me with a paycheck I can afford to travel again!  Woo!! As our main objective is still to never spend a weekend in Arevalo, we found ourselves pulling out the old map of Spain to find a good place to visit on Saturday.  It seemed that Toledo would be close enough for a day trip and, after investigating the public transportation situation, it seemed pretty feasible.  So, Saturday morning we caught the 9am bus to Madrid, took the metro to another bus station, hopped on another bus and, voila, we were in Toledo 3 hours later.  My life=The Public Transportation Situation.

A little background about Toledo:  This city is old (shocker).  But seriously, it has been populated since The Bronze Age.  I don’t even know when that was but I’m going to assume it was a pretty long while ago.  There are ruins of an old Roman circus ring, a really old wall surrounding the city and lots of other cool old things.  It used to be the capital of Spain and it is famous because Christians, Jews and Muslims all lived there together in peace.  Toledo is a real life example of those co-exist bumper stickers (but way cooler).  So there is a cathedral, mosque and synagogue.  My favorite part about Toledo being so old is that the streets were formed before people realized city grids were a useful thing when building a city.  My Frommer´s guide book compares the streets of Toledo to the warren of a rabbit.  It is frustrating if you are trying to find something but pretty great if you are just trying to get lost and explore the little, less touristy streets of the city.

When I was in the 10th grade I took AP Art History with Gloria Jackson (the best class of my life) and one of my favorite paintings in the textbook was “Vista de Toledo” painted by El Greco circa 1600.  The painting is now located at The Met in New York (go figure) but I was so excited to actually be able to see my own vista de Toledo.  Surprisingly, the view has not really changed a whole lot since El Greco’s time.

"Vista de Toledo" by El Greco in 1600

Modern day Toledo..pretty similar, right??

Another shot of modern day Toledo

Other than the McDonald’s occupying a large portion of real estate in the main plaza, Toledo has remained relatively timeless.

Don’t you judge me.  Do you know how hard it is for a girl to get a fountain Coca-Cola in this country!?!?!
The main plaza (Plaza Zocodover)

When we first got to the city, we spent the first hour or two trying to find the tourism office and La Casa de El Greco.  Once we found the tourism office and got a map, we still couldn’t find El Greco’s house so we just gave up and enjoyed the things we discovered while looking for it.  There was a random car show in a plaza, lots of little shops with beautiful hand made gold jewelry, a lovely French Gothic cathedral and a cafe with sweeping views of the countryside.  Every city that we go to I beg Annie to let me ride the trolley.  I have a weird obsession with trolleys.  Our feet were super tired from walking on cobblestones all day so she finally relented and we took a trolley ride around the city.  I’m not sure which was best: the amazing views that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise or the overenthusiastic group of Asian tourists sitting beside us.  Both were pretty great.  Annie became a trolley believer after that awesome tour!

Another plaza with a random car show

The French Gothic cathedral. So pretty!

Pretty place for a picture.

In front of the best trolley ever! Two thumbs up!

Walking through the narrow side streets.

After the tour we got a coffee at the cafe overlooking the countryside and just generally pondered the greatness of our lives.  We were so busy pondering that we accidentally missed Spanish eating time.  There is a period of time between 2-4:30 for eating a huge lunch and if you miss that time then you are just out of luck.  We tried to find food around 6pm (silly Americanas) and the waiters at every restaurant looked at us like crazy people for trying to eat.  Apparently you are only allowed to drink things at that time.  Crestfallen but secretly excited, we made our way back to the plaza and got ourselves some good old McDonalds.  Never have I been so happy to see those golden arches.  McDonalds knows something that those restaurants do not...and that is the fact that people are hungry all the time--not just from the hours of 2-4 and 9-11.  Pretty sure that the beef in McDonalds hamburgers in Spain comes from grass fed cows (what a concept!) and they are actually pretty delicious.  After our shamefully American dinner, we decided to get some traditional Toledan desserts.  Mazapan shops are all over the city with pastries that literally look too good to eat.  Somehow we managed to eat them, though.

We finally found a museum with some El Greco paintings that was free to enter.  Holler!  The main attraction is La Asuncion which is considered one of his greatest masterpieces.  The rest of the museum was a hodgepodge collection of paintings and statues taken from monasteries around the country and was honestly pretty creepy.  My personal fave is still “Vista de Toledo” but seeing his other works was neat nonetheless.

 Some apostles

El Greco's masterpiece.

Not too sure about this one, El Greco

With our bellies full and our legs aching from a great day of walking around, we headed back toward the bus station to start our 3 hour journey home.  We got back Arevalo a little after midnight and slept late on Sunday but it was worth it.  Toledo is an enchanting little city and I definitely recommend it to anyone who cares.

I have one more down weekend until I will be traveling my fanny off.  The last weekend in November I am going to Amsterdam.  The next weekend I will be going to Florence, Italy.  The weekend after that I am going to Geneva, Switzerland.  Then, Rob is coming to see me for 2 weeks.  Our first weekend we are going to northern Spain (Oviedo, Cangas de Onis and Arenas de Cabrales) and then for Christmas we are spending 5 days in Cordoba with day trips to Ronda, Sevilla and Granada.  After he leaves I am flying to Lisbon, Portugal to meet up with my girlfriends from America and then we are flying to Barcelona for New Year’s Eve. (AGHHH!!!)  I am sooo excited and you better be prepared for some epic blogging once I get back.

Eat some delicious Thanksgiving food for me.  But don’t tell me about it because I’ll get way too depressed.

Adios, y’all!


  1. Your trip sounds wonderful and I am a big El Greco fan, too! I think the last painting is his portrait of Veronica who Catholic legend says wiped Jesus' face on the Via Dolorosa. "Veronica's Veil" is said to bear the imprint of his image. Keep sharing your stories...living vicariously through you...have fun!

  2. I just love your blogs sweet girl and as soon as I read one, I am ready for the next! I know you will have such fun with all the travels coming up! We will miss you at Thanksgiving...but not going to the mountains will make it seem less sad! Who goes to the beach for Thanksgiving? Well...keep blogging. Love you my #2! xxoo -mom

  3. I remember the winding, narrow alleys of Toledo. We bought your mom some Majorca pearls at a shop there. Great blog and wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. We'll miss you at Thanksgiving.

  4. Holy Toledo! You made it come alive for me. Keep the word-pictures coming.

  5. That trolley looks like something little kids would ride at a park here, lol! I have to say, even though I adore French food, I think I went to McD's both times I was in Paris. I don't even eat there here, but there is something about a soft drink from there when you're away from home that just hits the spot. Maybe b/c they use ICE.