#9 TOLEDO AND MADRID

Today we had a LOVELY visit to Toledo and arrived in Madrid later in the evening.

Just a note: Another lady broke two toes and had to be seen at the hospital. She is still with us, but moving slowly with a foot boot and crutches. She did not go home as well. Our dear Charlotte with the shoulder injury is quite an inspiration for all of us and will be for a long, long time.  We all love her!!  It is more difficult to get from place to place for the lady on crutches.  Feet take you everywhere and work quite a differently on cobblestones and ancient winding up and down streets in towns 500 years old.  But my hat and the hats of others go out to these two brave ladies.

On the way to Toledo we made a pit stop at a town described as Don Quixote’s hometown. Perhaps the setting Cervantes set was his home town. I do not know who ever really lived here, but why would the guides tell tales?  It all took place so many hundreds of years ago and it is a good bathroom stop, so why worry about this truth. Whoever lived/s here, it is a picturesque setting, plus it has the best bakery in the entire Spanish countryside.  The macaroons were heavenly and the bread pulled apart was the perfect soft centered, crisp outside kind you expect and usually don’t get.

TOLEDO:

Toledo was once the center of all Spain. It was the capitol and then the honors were moved to Madrid. People began to leave Toledo for Madrid and Madrid is now huge, bustling and magnificent.

Toledo looks much like it did five hundred years ago. It looks this way because as I said, the capitol status was removed to Madrid, so Toledo sopped in its tracks and remained with the help of maintenance very much same.  Its charm is the look of antiquity and other factors, many historical events tourists find fascinating. Many of the monuments are facades and are dedicated to the memories and contributions of those not with us anymore, but who bequeathed remembrances for all of us who come to see how they lived and what they have left.

This beautiful Cathedral is only opened when dignitaries come for a visit which is not very often.

They say that the Christians, Jews and the Muslims all lived together in unity and religious issues were not prevalent. Is this true?  Did they really live in peace with no conflicts and for how long? I hope it is true and I hope it can happen again. Such naiveté, on my part, but let it be right.

One of two signs announcing the Synagogue.

We were treated to a visit to an old Synagogue called Santa Maria la Blanca and enjoyed being there, but realizing it is in an Arabic style, I asked why.  It was explained that the old Synagogue was renovated and made into a mosque long ago.

To be sure you do not miss The Santa Maria la Blanca, here is the second sign.

It is said that several years ago many Sephardic Rabbis were invited back to Toledo for a festive occasion. They were all offered to have the Sephardic Jews return to Spain and receive full Spanish citizenship in only two years when it normally takes ten to fifteen years to become Spanish citizens.  How many do you think returned to become Spanish once again?  How many will come? I predict, none. It is my opinion that it was a gesture with no reality, but a heck of a good show.

We entered a convent, climbed the stairs and knocked on the window of Mother Superior’s quarters. She is said to sell handmade Marzipan if you knock.  Skip knocked and we asked for a box of the marzipan; she handed the box to Skip and Skip handed her six Euros.  We saw a similar box down the road for only two Euros.  Oh well, let us just say we donated to the Convent.

Another note. Do you remember reading about the turtle story and my crossing the bridge? Well, again we had another bridge to cross today to meet the bus. After hours of walking in the lovely town of Toledo, the bus looked far away in the distance as our group gazed across the expanse of another bridge.  Skip said I wasn’t second last time, I was third,  so this time I made very, very, undoubtedly sure that I was FIRST to across the bridge. I did it in front of witnesses.  A young fifteen year old almost got me, but I even stopped to take a picture and still won. Like I said before, it was just I cheering for myself after winning the self-imposed race.  Yeah Sheila, good job in bridge crossing.  Thank you Toledo for your beautiful peek into yesteryear and a few moments in time to reflect, learn and listen to echoes from the past.

See my competition, and see how I clearly was in the lead? Just a little personal best in progress.

Just to add a side note: We are staying just a few blocks from the train station in Madrid where terrorists did their dirty deed several years ago. We have gone past it a few times.  I will go this afternoon to see the crystal monument they have there with all the names of those killed or injured in the attack.

Now that Madrid is the Capitol of Spain it has grown up to be a majestic, huge, metropolis with traffic, sculptures honoring heroes, a beautiful botanical garden, and the Prado Museum.

I will admit that the guide we had at the museum was so slow, much to slow for my biorhythms, so we ditched her and wandered around until we had enough. We wandered off to other areas where we lingered. We enjoyed were the Playa Major and had a long three course lunch in Playa del Sol. After hours of play, joints and feet aching, we jumped into a taxi. I got the front seat. Oh my goodness, let us dispense with all of the superlatives and just say, imagine an amusement park ride. Yes, the ride was exciting, daring and down right scary. But, that was the fun and the spirit of Madrid.

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