Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day Trippin' to Toledo

It seems like we've thrown around the idea of taking a quick trip to Toledo since we arrived in Spain nearly 5 months ago, but between being out of town, Luke having to work through the weekends or the desire to enjoy lazy days in our apartment, it took us until just a couple of weeks ago to make the quick trip.  On this trip, we were pleasantly joined by Alex, who is a friend of our friend, Aaron. Alex's work brought him to Madrid for a couple of weeks, and we were finally able to meet up and day trip to Toledo together on his final Saturday in Spain. 

Approximately 88 km (55 miles) and a quick 30 minute train ride on the high speed AVE, Toledo, the former capital of Spain, is a super easy day trip from Madrid.  Luke and I met up with Alex in the Atocha train station on a rainy Saturday morning and were in Toledo before we knew it. Toledo sits atop a hill, offering panoramic views, hosts what some consider to be the most beautiful cathedral in Spain and has a rich artistic influence, especially from El Greco, their former resident artist.  After making it to the top of the hill, we walked through the cathedral, each of us equipped with our own audio guide that was included in the entrance price.  The cathedral was beautiful, but I've found that it's quite difficult to capture the beauty of any cathedral in pictures (at least when you're an untrained, minimally skilled photographer.) The colors, stained glass, golden altars and rich colors are certainly impressive, but the camera can't capture the reverent feeling that you feel upon entering or the vastness of the large holy spaces. Despite this, I continue to try. 

A view of the outside.
Intricate altar.
The wooden engraved choir seats.
A skylight allowed in beautiful sunlight.
Holy altar.
Famous El Greco painting that is housed in the cathedral.

After finishing our tour of the cathedral, we opted out of visits to the various museums in favor of experiencing the medieval town by freely roaming the narrow brick streets. We did a bit of tapa hopping, popped into several souvenir shops to look at beautifully painted tiles and piercingly sharp swords, went on an unsuccessful hunt to find a restaurant where we could dine in a cave and enjoyed the beautiful views from the top of the hill.  Thanks to Alex for joining us on this trip! We enjoyed good conversation and always love meeting new friends! It was a day well spent in Toledo, and we were back in Madrid in time to enjoy a nice dinner with our Madrilenian amigos.

Alex and Luke.
Narrow winding streets. Not many cars, but the ones we saw were a tight squeeze!
I just liked this little corner. Muebles = Furniture.
We stumbled upon this pub that was primarily decorated with US and English university regalia.
The raining morning gave way to puffy white clouds and some late afternoon sunshine.
Colorful tiles in the roads while walking through the old Jewish neighborhood.
This shop had a cave underneath it that was full of beautifully painted tiles, and we learned that caves are quite common here. This is what sparked our quest to find a restaurant where we could dine in such a cave.
Us with the cathedral behind us.
The entrance to the city, Abbey Road style.
The literal door to Toledo.
I can never find key chains or trinkets with my name on it, but at least I can find tuna (and balsamic vinegar in Italy). Ha!

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