The door was locked. “Did I arrive too early?!” Because I would almost rather arrive a little late than waaaayyyy too early. I said, “The school is locked,” to the Vice Principal walking toward me. Her eyes widened in a still-sleeping shock. She turned the knob…and the door opened…Mhm. I hate looking dumb. “Does it show that I met a Spanish boy…?” I asked her. She laughed, and I tried not to get that burning red blush. In Spain (at least in the schools), your coworkers/bosses can take on a friend-role easily. The Principal and Vice Principal are not just giving me “orders” or making sure I am doing my job. They are also teasing me about boys, or touching my neck and forehead to check for fever when I feel sick.
It feels like ages since I blogged! And here I am, trying to think of what might interest you. I think I am going to leave the “stupid stories” out…Like how I burned 2 meals, missed the bus, and a flight on the same week… Or how I had my first doctor’s visit because that cold I caught turned into a sinus infection.
The week came and went (twice!), and I have barely processed how much has changed for me. “What date is it again?” I ask people near me. Despite all the new distractions I managed to focus on what truly matters: Girls Getaway! 😀 You might remember Mia as the Amazonian Travel Warrior from Chicago that helped me find a piso in just 2 days. When she sent me a WhatsApp saying, “Let’s go to Toledo this weekend,” I did what any sensible person would do. I danced. And then I replied yes.
We met up Saturday morning in Plaza Eliptica bus station, which is on metro line 6. Buses leave to Toledo every 30 minutes, and if you have an Abono (Madrid’s transportation card), you may use it for your trip. If not, I believe a roundtrip is 10€. “It’s like a kid in a candy shop,” Mia said when we arrived in this beautiful town just one hour away. It was exciting to get the travel butterflies in my stomach again!
Once upon a time, Toledo was the capital. Rick Steves explains in his SPAIN 2015 book that this “was the holiest Jewish city in Europe,” yet this was a place where “God was known by many names” as people from different religions lived together in harmony. In the 1500’s Philip II peaced out of Toledo and into Madrid…Apparently no one knows for sure what the reason was, but some say that he wanted to keep religion and politics separate.
From the bus station we took a short walk to Plaza de Zocodover, and that’s when I began to understand this was an awesome day! We did not know where to go, but once we knew the places we wanted to see we didn’t know how to get there. I LOVE WHEN THAT HAPPENS. Nothing brings people together like getting lost in a foreign town. It is marvelous.
First, we went to the Santa Cruz museum, which costs 5€. It was interesting, but after being in El Museo del Prado in Madrid, it is difficult to feel impressed by this more modest museum. I was most interested in seeing pieces by El Greco, whose work is on display on different sights around Toledo. So even if you cannot go to El Greco Museum, you can still see his paintings. During his time, realism was the thing…but El Greco said, “Forget you,” and painted something different. This is what made me interested in him. You can easily recognize his work because the bodies look unnaturally elongated “as though stretched between heaven and earth. He painted souls, not faces.” (Rick Steves, SPAIN 2015). Needless to say, the people of his time did not like his work (I am looking at you Philip II!)…but once the Romantic era came along, his art became a big, beautiful deal.
We walked around town, admiring narrow streets, old as time wooden doors, and the feeling of being inside a movie! “My life is a movie!” That’s all I’ve been saying the last few weeks. Traveling is the truest form of eye candy. It is a heightened experience of wonder.
The Cathedral was also gorgeous, intricate, and regal. The ticket was 8€, and it comes with an audio guide. But the best part was the wedding photoshoot happening outside of it. I felt like a 5 year old girl watching a Disney princess movie come to life. What an outstanding choice for these two people to get hitched 😉 I hope their marriage is as breathtaking as their wedding pictures.
My favorite visit was the San Juan de los Reyes Monastery (2,50€). It was very peaceful, with a colorful garden at its center. The details on the walls were delicate, and intricate, making me feel like a princess. “I’d be a monk in a place like this,” I told Mia. But then I thought it twice, and decided not to change my life path (yet again, ha!).
To conclude our sightseeing we went to a restaurant called La Malquerida de la Trinidad. It had a lot of character, and their mojitos were stupendous. Here is the Trip Advisor review: http://www.tripadvisor.es/Restaurant_Review-g187489-d3458677-Reviews-La_Malquerida_de_la_Trinidad-Toledo_Province_of_Toledo_Castile_La_Mancha.html
The sun was setting slowly, creating a beautiful picture of the skyline, and the birds…a golden pink reflected on the clouds. We were looking for a picture perfect spot, and I think we got pretty close to it. We saw amazing postcards, and the truth is that we were trying to find the place where these were taken. It was VERY cold walking in the shadow, and I laughed at the wind for giving me fabulous bed hair!
Living in Madrid, I can see Toledo as the perfect escapade when life gets hectic and I start to forget the beauty in things. I know that perhaps I will one day accustom to the cobblestone streets, crumbling walls, decaying wooden doors, and history filled alleys…I may accustom to the smell of fall, and medieval towns. I may accustom to churros, and long weekends. I may accustom to two hour lunch breaks, and staring at snowcapped mountains on my way to work. I may accustom to a wonderful man holding my hand in the street. But in the depth of my heart there is a commitment to never, ever allow myself to take any of it for granted.