Sunday, May 30, 2010

Friday (Sevilla to Granada)...

The alarm rang early...too early...but nothing a couple of lattes couldn't handle. Pleasant morning temperatures and a sweet light breeze made for a leasurely walk around the cathedral and along the outer Alcazar wall. Shopkeepers rolled out their displays of fans and flamenco dresses, postcards, and pottery. Picked up a small antique tile from the 1880s in a tiny shop outside the cathedral...used my (very) broken Spanish to communicate with the elderly shopkeeper.

The street in front of the hotel was closed for a bit. Preparations for a short civic celebration for the return of pilgrims to the cathedral. Apparently they rented 30,000€ per week houses along the way...not quite the "visit the flock and find God" kind of pilgrimage-of-old.

The train station was busier than we had seen so far. Something was up. Tourists were joined by news cameras and protesters (we think). Several trains were listed as cancelled, while others (including ours) were delayed. Still, we boarded without incident...two facing window seats for the 3 hour trip through Andalucia.

Graffitti once again quickly transitioned to rolling hills of olive trees...lots and lots and lots and LOTS of olive trees. (The local tap water must shimmer with olive oil.) This leg was on a medium distance train (versus the high-speed AVE lines), so stops were frequent in smaller towns with "real" people. Caught up (finally) on my blog. Spotting a corral of donkeys... awwww, with two frisky baby donkeys... ain't that a kick in the head (go Dean-o). A tiny, dusty soccer field... vacant in the hot afternoon sun. San Francisco de Loja pronounced with a soothing "fran-thithhhhh-co" Spanish Cindy Brady lisp. New houses with satellite dishes...old houses with cows.

Arrived at Granada's sleepy train station on a sleepy cul-de-sac with a hoard of travelers and nary a cab in site. A slow trickle of cabs cleared the group bit by bit...and somehow we were last :) nothing else was sleepy. We passed busy city streets until we hit the narrow cobblestone lane in front of our tiny, historic, Spanish-style hotel. Just five rooms in the hotel...each with a balcony overlooking a babbling stream and the next-door church. A slight head-tilt upwards reveals a bit of the Alhambra... high above... tempting us. Our room has a signature feature we've noticed in southern Spain...enclosed second-story half-balconies jutting out over the street... ours is done up in dark wood, black iron, and wavy windows. They open so you can peer at the sights all around. How cool.

From our home on the edge of the historic Albanzin...the old Moorish section of the city, with its twisting single-lane steets and steep walkways weaving up the hill. We visited a popular perch overlooking the old city and the Alhambra high above. From this vantage, the Moorish palace and fortress look truly imposing complex of stone building covering a craggy hill. Mountains in the distance still holding onto their snow. The flat plains of Andalucia lay to the right. The scene reminded us both of a scene from Lord of the Rings. A guitarrist played up-tempo tunes and drifters/hippies sold handmade metal and leather jewelry. We visited the overlook twice this aftenoon to find the right light. Truly breathtaking.

Ducked inside the Iglesia de Santa Ana across the street from the hotel. Cool and dark and quiet, the 17th century church had its very own Weeping Virgin...not everyone can take first place.

Decided to embrace the Moorish influences in the town and dine on a sweet and savory mixture of dishes. Chicken backed tender in a tajin with plums and nuts. Couscous with chicken and raisins and sweet onions. Creamy hummus. A yogurt-based desert topped with honey, nuts, and cinnamon. And Arabic coffee with heavy whipped cream. What a wonderful meal... unexpected and new.

Midnight by the time we finished dinner. Had an after-dinner Alhambra beer at Six Colors. Packed full of late-night locals. Lady GaGa and Madonna were paired with quirky Spanish tunes. When we left at 2am, the streets were still teaming with women in hip fashion and men in stylish suits...just gearing up for an even later night. For us... bedtime... to the gentle rumble of tires on the cobblestones beneath our window. .

Thursday (Sevilla)...

Awoke to Jeff's iPhone alarm adorable (adorably funny...sorry) sound clip of neice Mia saying "twinkle little star!". Sure beats the jarring noise my phone makes!

Headed off to our first of three stops for the day...the Museo Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija. (Passed dozens of designer fashion and shoe shops...smiled fondly for Sherie :) The Palacio is the early 20th century mansion-turned-museum of the late Countess of Lebrija. Clearly an independent woman, she married at 49, widowed at 50 with no kids, and set off on a solo around-the-globe shopping spree soon therafter... picking up antiques and artifacts, china and furniture, paintings and tile from all corners. The ground floor is famous for its collection of Roman mosaics...many of which are installed as regular-use floors in the mansion, and yes, we got to walk on them. The Countess didn't hesitate to move a wall to accommodate the shape of her "new" floors. Shelves loaded with ancient archeological fragments. China from well as Europe...with one set only the second in existence with the other at Buckingham Palace. A pricey painting from the Dutch master Bruegal. And who doesn't need their own private chapel with a glittery altar...perhaps for those days the chef makes sinful desserts?

On to the Catedral de Sevilla, past the pack of Gypsy women outside the gate offering twigs of rosemary. The cathedral is the 3rd largest in Europe behind Rome's St. Peter's and London's St. Paul's. (Ooooo, we have completed the tri-fecta!) Built primarily during the 15th and 16th centuries, portions pre-date the main construction (the 12th century Moorish mineraret (now bell tower) and exterior courtyard/patio) and portions we're built for centuries to follow. The caverous Gothic interior is filled with glittery church-stuff, including beautiful stained glass and an impressive 65-foot-tall golden high-altar. Workmen feverishly polished all things silver for some upcoming celebration (including hand-carried "floats" topped with silver statues). Local hero Chistopher Columbus' massive and somber tomb drew a snapshot crowd.

A warm afternoon walk past the Lamedas de Hercules (Jeff dubbed them the "pillars of Hercules)...four marble pillars anchoring either end of a huge oval plaza. (Our theory is this is the site of the city's former Roman circus... something to research.) Visited the small Basilica de la Macarena and its famous altar with the Weeping Virgin. This towering display glitters to entertain the eyes, but draws you in to stir the soul. Its difficult not to sit in silence and stare.

Left the Macarena...and spent the remainder of the day humming that incessant song! Circled a portion of the old city wall and returned to the hotel via a LONG river walk. Spotted a bridge by Calatrava (Maybe? Probably?) Joggers and sunbathers and skateboarders. Rockclimbers scaled the undersides of arched stone bridges.

Another wonderful late evening. Mojitos on the rooftop as the sun set. Our first paella for dinner. An evening return to the Pillars of Hercules, which transforms at night to a hotspot...with dozens of restaurants and bars...overflowing with cheery locals. We walking until we felt like the last people on the streets. It will be hard to say goodbye to Sevilla.

Wednesday (Sevilla)...

Italy will always have a special place in my heart, but Spain is certainly a wonderful second. Layers of cultures, friendly people, creative food, a sunny climate, late-night dining and long strolls. What's not to love! We are having such a wonderful, inviting first trip to Spain that its hard to imagine we will not return...soon.

We spent the bulk of the day at one sumptuous location...the Real Alcazar. This is the oldest in-use royal palace in Europe...basically a 14th century makeover of a 10th century Moorish palace by a Catholic monarch. The building and its walled gardens are a feast for the senses. The eyes are captivated by colorful tile floors, towering mosaic walls and elaborate ceilings. The ears are entranced by slow trickling fountains, tall trees blowing the the breeze, and hundreds of nesting doves cooing to their mates. The nose picks up the sweet scent of hundreds of citrus tree flowers, the pungent bite of scattered falled oranges, and freshly watered soil. The skin tingles with the transition from warm sunny alcoved gardens to cool palace rooms to damp royal baths.

We wandered for hours, and circled around to take it all in again.

After hours wandering and staring and interpreting, we indulged with a couple of beers on the roof terrace, watching the swallows swoop overhead for late afternoon insects. The perfect time to try (in vain?) to catch up on some blogging. Or to stare at the carefree birds and have another beer :)

Our pre-dinner stroll was through Maria Luisa Park...the site of the 1929 international exposition. The Plaza de Espana and several other remaining buildings anchored the ends of long pathways with dozens of tiny gardens and features. A dozen or so parrots (or some long-tailed green birds) circled together overhead. Old fountains sat dry.

We ended the day with a late tapas dinner, a night time walk, and drinks on the roof. Rinse and repeat...with pleasure.

Tuesday (Cordoba to Sevilla)...

Began the day bright and early with the royal Alcazar and its walled gardens. The building itself housed tapestries and mosaics. A highlight was the tower...not a high tower...just high enough to provide interesting views of the gardens and the city. The gardens were beautiful, with tiered pools and foutains. A historic gravity-fed irrigation system ran throughout the entire garden...bricked trenches that carried water to every corner. Watched gardeners move metal "gates" that directed rivers of water into specific gardens...sunken to absorb pools of water for deep irrigation.

Visited the only surviving synagogue predating the forced-conversion of non-Christians by the Catholic monarchs. A tiny gem...the synagogue was primarily one room with mosaics and inscriptions. We learned that this one of only three surviving synagogues in Spain from that era...the other two in Toledo...which we had visited days before.

Time to leave Cordoba. Ducked into the Mezquita courtyard (free) to wander the rows of orange trees. Watched a row of trees getting their morning soak with another gravity-fed irrigation system that fed deep roots. Took a breezy walk to the train station.

The AVE train zipped us to Sevilla in less than 45 minutes. Dropping further along the Guadalquivir River, we passes dry grasses and squat orange trees. The monitor read 250kph. Hibee to Sevilla.

Arrived at the perfectly situated EME Catedral Hotel...aptly named for its next-door neighbor...the cathedral (duh). A glass of perfectly-chilled light red Spanish wine while we waited for our room. And oh what a oaisis of tranquility. Sophisticated yet comfortable. Comtemporary yet functional. Lunch (tapas) in the Santa Cruz neighborhood.

Visited the city's historic bull ring (and museum). One of the oldest in all of Spain. Upwards of 20 thousand spectators turn up every Sunday in May and June (and a special show for Easter) to watch 3 matadors fight 6 bulls. I'm pretty sure I would not want to watch a bull fight, but the ring was fascinating. Things I learned...this is certainly a sport, but it began as practice for fighting enemies in the Middle Ages. Every fight is 20 precise 5 minute stages. the matador makes the bull dip its head so tha he can jump over the horns to make a precise kill into the heart. There are specific rules for what can happen in the shadowed and sunlight parts of the oval ring. If a bull performs well, the matador clips one of its ears; if it does very well, both ears: and an exception goes the tail. The meat is sold at market. Truly fascinating.

A bird pooped on my head as we left the bull ring. Gracias.

Walked along the Guadalquivir River under a canopy of trees. Crew teams and kayakers zipped by. A rag-tag band of young trumpters "practiced". The cool afternoon breeze felt wonderful. Spotted an iced coffee.

The hotel's soothing rain shower washed away the days grime and soothed aching calves. Calming music on the cd player. Fully refreshed, we had dinner in a cozy coutyard in the Santa Cruz neighborhood. No tapas tonight...tried some recommended dishes...pork and veal. Spanish wine from Castilla-Leon.

By 1am the streets finally start to get quiet. Tossed a Euro to a guitarist playing soothing tunes outside the cathedral. Mojitos...wonderful refreshing mojitos on top of the hotel overlooking the cathedral...amazing. (Kim...these mojitos need to be on your to-do list :)

Achy feet trundled off to bed.


For signs of life from Blogger?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Someone clean out the pipes...

Wouldn't you know it. I start blogging again and the pipes fill up :( Three days of updates waiting to post! Isn't some IT person's pager going off yet? Sigh. That's free for ya!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Monday (Cordoba)...

Got a (somewhat) early start to beat the heat and the crowds...although we really haven't seen mobs of tourists...just the occasional glut when a bus tour releases its cattle. The herds of Asian or European moo-moos meander through every now and then, trampelling everything in their path, moving erratically and stopping randomly. (We've seen solo American travelers, but no groups yet.)

The Mezquita is an enormous 8th century Islamic mosque constructed on the ruins of a destroyed 5th century church with a 16th century cathedral poking up through the center. The mosque is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. The signature features of the old mosque are the rows and rows of marble columns (850 according to the we didn't count) interconnected by red and white double-arches. No matter what direction you turn, the columns lead your eyes onward to infinity. The ceilings are wooden, with patterns that vary depending on the age of the section...the mosque was expanded twice. Around the perimeter are dozens and dozens of naves, each containing an altar or a sculpture or a painting...and usually a mixture of all three. Several of the naves still contain Islamic features, including the mosques original focal point...the Mihrab...which directed worshipers' eyes to Mecca. In the center of all of this darkly-lit symmetry sits a towering, bright Christian cathedral, begun in the early 16th century. Ornate decoration draw attention upward.

A quick snack and then we crossed the Roman Bridge to the tiny tower-housed museum at the end...the Museum of Al-Andalus Life. This interpretative museum told stories of Islam in Spain, including large-scale replicas of the Mezquita and the Alhambra's Palacios Nazaries in Granada.

Despite a cooling breeze, the hot afternoon sun moved us to another cool dip in the pool. We dined outdoors (again)...this time in a cozy restaurant beneath the city-wall gates. Yummy flan for desert. We ended the day with late drinks at Soul. Dire Straits...old and new(er). The Clash' London Calling. Elvis. Quite the mix.

Each day seems to top the last. Not an easy feat!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday (Toledo to Cordoba)...

Started what would turn out to be a long, long walking day with a short walk to Iglesia de San Ramon, a small 13th century church with some beautiful frescoes and Mudejar achitectural features. It also housed a small collection of artifacts from the Visigoths...all explained in our eyes were mainly gazing upward at the colorful wood ceiling.

A quick stop for pastries and cappuccinos, and back to the hotel to pack up and say goodbye to Toledo. A quick taxi to the train station. And with a quick ride on the hourly AVE train, we were back in Madrid...or at least the Atocha train station. Snack time.

The AVE train to Cordoba was lightly populated...tourists and locals scattered about the blue and white seats. Leaving Madrid, the terrain was gently rolling, keeping the eyes entertained and the mind soothed. Rows and rows of olive trees. Fields of bright-red poppies. Pallets of bricks. As we moved south into Andalucia, the rolling fields gave way to rocky hills with jagged ravines topped with pines and short, deep-green oaks. Grazing livestock filled in the gaps. Numerous pitch-black tunnels created a slide show effect as we swept from valley to valley. Scattered sun-bleached haciendas with terra cotta tiled roofs and enclosed courtyards.

But soon enough, we transitioned back to green and gold fields as we neared Cordoba. Our arrival was smooth, into a modern glass-and-metal train station. Took a leasurely 20 minute walk through a wide city park, past fountains and Roman ruins to reach our hotel. Certainly a gem of a hotel...ultra-contemporary design with an outer shell of copper panels peppered with holes. Reminiscent of the de Young museum in San Francisco. Our room was bright and sophisticated, with views of a fountain and the Mezquita.

Took a soothing dip in the roof-top pool. The cold water instantly whisked away the fatigue of the intense afternoon sun. Refreshed and cooled, we began a long walk that became dinner that became a late night. No interiors this was an orientation stroll through old Cordoba and its unique blend of Moorish, Christian, and Jewish cutures. Started with the long 12th century city wall, with long cascading pools outside. This led us to the Alcazar de los Reyes Christianos...the former royal fortress. We skirted the outer wall and walked along the Guadalquivir River...which we heard but only occasionally saw...a wide river at the fall line...with a grass and tree-filled flood plain. Approached the impressive (and imposing) Mezquita, and circled its sandy-orange walls, with Moorish arches, golden doors, and intricate stone carvings. The belltower caught the afternoon sun, while the streets below were hidden in shadow.

As evening set, we wandered through the narrow, winding streets of the Jewish Quarter. The low residential buildings were all painted in shades of white with trims in yellows and golds and oranges. Needless to say, the Medieval street pattern combined with the uniformity of the building made keeping a sense of direction difficult. We found a tempting outdoor tapas restaurant...Casa Rubio. Once again, an amazing mixture of flavors. Moorish potatos with a savory spicy curry sauce. Tender pork with a rich truffle sauce. A creamy Spanish omlette. Oh, and of course...manchego cheese...this time drizzled with olive oil and topped with toasted almonds. We finished with a light-yet-rich rice pudding with cinnamon ice cream.

We walked off all those calories with a long route through the Jewish Quarter, around the lit-up Mezquita, and across the cities Roman bridge. Happened upon a city carnival, full of late night revelers. Even after midnight, kids were clutching their balloons and adults were indulging in twisty churros and waffles piled high with ice cream. Women dressed in flamenco outfits. The bridge and adjacent buildings were lined with lights.

Legs and feet need a break. Time for bed.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday (Toledo)...

Started the day with a morning visit to the nearby monastery...San Juan de los Reyes. This Franciscan monastery and attached church was tarted up as the burial site for Isabel and Ferdinand...but now sits as a quiet wanna-be :) The interior of the church is beautiful and grand, and the adjacent courtyard was sunny and scented with orange blossoms. A well-sized mesh above let cheery songbirds in and kept pooping pigeons out.

Pastries and cappuccinos fueled us for our next two stops...two synagogues...also nearby our hotel. The Synagogue de Santa Maria la Blanca was a simple single-room structure that combined Jewish, Christian, and Moorish elements. The Synagogue del Transito (free today!!!) featured an ornate wooden ceiling and an intricate plaster wall with pink and green highlights. Neither synagogue had English we spent time oggling the architechture and moved along.

A random set of graffittied stairs brought us to an unexpected park overlooking the montastery and the river beyond. From there, we continued up to the Iglesias de los Jesuitos. This gem was perched on the tallest hill in the city with a bright, sunlit interior and two lofty belltowers offering panoramic views of the nearby cathedral city below. This was church that was begging to be loved...gilded ornamentation, cool temps, photos encouraged...and a low-price Coca Cola machine on the way down from the towers. There couldn't have been more than 5 other people in the church while we were there. Awesome!

Next on the hit parade: Santa Tome. This tiny church had one famous asset...El Greco's "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz"...his grand masterpiece...right in the place he intended it to be installed. Certainly worth waiting for the tour groups to depart. This wonder was full of mini-scenes and intricate details. The main chapel was also bright and colorful...but who was paying attention.

Late afternoon, we kept in the deep shadows to stay cool. We took paths less traveled, trying to get lost. And yet we always seemed to circle back to some spot we knew. Popped into an exhibit Obra Social...a former church of some type...currently housing an exhibit entitled "El Arte del Desnudo"...a study of the nude figure in paintings and sculpture. How odd. Although, come to think of it, churches are FULL of nude frescos. Maybe not so odd after all.

Moving on we had a snack. And more to drink. Boy that later afternoon sun sure is strong. Wandered back, resisting the temptation to buy shiny trinkets of gold and steel.

Returned to "El Corralito" for our last dinner in Toledo. Frankly, the food+outdoor vibe was too much to resist. Added delightful plates of grilled chorizo and cheesy croquettas along two favorites from last night...the must-have manchego cheese and that fricking amazing pork/beef/tomato dish. Ugh...seriously...I was going to snap a picture of the menu to remember the name of that dish! Ah well, three beers later I really had better things to do.

Returned to the cathedral at midnight. The bells tolled and late-night revellers wandered by. Overhead, bats dipped and swooshed in the spotlights. A huge owl glided silently across the square to a hidden perch atop the cathedral.

Wandering Toledo's streets after midnight reminded us of Venice and Siena...pretty high compliments in our travel itinerary. We stopped into Alfileritos 24...a cozy restaurant with a bright orange bar...cervezas taste even better from an orange bar. Ben E King and Gun n Roses mixed it up. Jeff was captivated by the upstairs restaurant...with its two story glass and blue light design. A must for our next trip to Toledo.

A final stroll back to the hotel down a street with "Tome" in its name...we dubbed Marisa Tomei street. Ya know...its MY blog. Sleepy time.

Friday (Toledo)...

Awoke to a cheery Spanish sunbeam. (Oddly enough, my mental soundtrack was playing a mash-up of the 30 Rock intro and some sappy Brian Adams power-ballad...I ignored the omens...whatever the heck they foretold!) Recovered from the multi-modal travel yesterday, we headed off towards Toledo's grand cathedral.

Along the way, we stopped at one of the many pastry shops. The specialty in Toledo is marzapan, but we saved that for desert and grabbed two flaky pastries--one lemon, one raisin. A nice light breakfast.

Toledo's cathedral is truly cavernous, and ornate, and all the things you want in a landmark. You can see why this one took 250 years to build! The march of time was evident as we wandered from nave to nave, each one showing off flurishes of a new era. And every so often, as the odd shape of the city blocks permitted, the builders crammed in a side room or two...tiny spaces crammed with art (a dozen or so famous works by local favorite El Greco), or garments, or golden objects dotted with jewels. Wonderfully cool temperatures made it difficult to leave this sanctuary from the real world...the reverent silence broken only by the occasional cries of "no photos" across the croud.

We followed winding streets decorated for a holiday for Corpus Cristi. A long twisted path through the city was lined with ornate and varied lanterns, while long ribbons of cream-colored canvas were suspended above the streets. The meaning of these covered paths escapes us so far--the only book we found so far is in Spanish only--but we took delight in the visual treat...and resulting shade! Wandered past the municpal market smelling of fresh fish. Named a sleeping dog Paco. Grabbed a warm ham and cheese sandwich.

We made our way past the busy Plaza de Zocodover to our next stop...the Santa Cruz a tiny (and free) museum with designs to be something grander. In spite of ongoing construction, the building and grounds were full of unexpected beauty...a peaceful, two-story cloister; an ornately carved staircase full of whimsical figures; rooms peppered with even more works by El Grecco; a dozen huge tapestries with tales of La Mancha.

With a sense of a general direction, we set off for our next stop...a tiny Moorish mosque. We wove through tiny streets, circled and backtracked a few time, and felt the grand delight of being lost without caring. Views of the lazy Rio Tajo below and sorrounding Castille - La Mancha beyond. Occasional feral cats darted across our path. Delivery trucks folded in their mirrors to squeeze down narrow streets. Finally, La Mezquita del Cristo de la 11th century mosque converted in the 12th century to a church. Under some sort of restoration, this tiny, two-room building shows off Moorish arches and intricate stone ceilings. The grounds include an overlook of the city walls and the Gate of the of several we could explore.

The Gate of the Sun had a free exhibit inside, which also allowed us to peer down on unsuspecting walkers. Boil the oil! We wandered outside the wall through the Bisagra Gate, ducked into the cozy courtyard gardens of Hostal del Cardenal, and strolled along to the multi-level escalators, whisking us back up into the city. Strolled along the western and southern edges of the city...high above the Tajo. "Discovered" the ruins of baths near the water. Felt inspired to shower before dinner.

An even later dinner (9:30-ish) seemed fitting. Tapas at "El Corralito". Patatas bravas. Queso Manchego. And some divine specialty of tender pork and beef in a spicy tomato sauce (I will call it "muy yummy" since the actual Spanish name escapes me). Washed them down with several cold cervezas.

Meandered through quiet city streets stopping for the occasional nighttime photo. Watched the lights go out at the cathedral at 1am. Fell asleep with a head full of memories.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday/Thursday (SFO to Toledo)...

With a skeptical eye on the roving plume of volcanic ash meandering around Europe, we headed to SFO with an 'on time' notice from United. Soon enough, our pilot had received our 'slot' in the approved route guiding North American travelers safely over the north Atlantic and we were on our way. Our path to Frankfurt was notably more southern than in previous trips, but we only arrived 15 minutes late! Not bad at all given the dicey conditions. Along the way, we met a jolly German woman returning home from a trip to California--her two glasses of Champagne made her VERY chatty--and a middle-aged American man traveling solo to Florence. (Sigh...Florence!!!)

A light rain tapered off as we landed. Maybe the rain is what kept the ash at bay. No sooner had we stepped out of our gate in Frankfurth, than Jeff spotted his friend Tom from his Detroit days! What a small world. Cramming as many happy 'what's new' comments as possible into a 15min chat, and we were back on track to find our Lufthansa gate to Madrid. A shoulder-to-shoulder bus wisked us out to our plane...a cramped little number compared to the 747 that brought us across the pond.

The Alps and Pyrenees broke up the fertile green checkerboard fileds of Europe as we flew south. These were our first fleeting glimpses of Spain and its arid terrain. We landed in Madrid and zipped through arrivals. Then it was a short 15min taxi ride downtown to the Atocha train station to catch a high-speed AVE train to Toledo. The station is beautiful and bright...but no photos allowed :( Damn terrorists. For the 30min hop to Toledo, we sat across from a chatty father-daughter traveling team from Oregon nearing the end of their journey. They shared cautionary tales of pick pockets. (Unemployment in Spain is 20 percent!)

In the blink of an eye we were disembarking in Toledo...the well-preserved former capital of Spain. Our hotel is right in the midst of the historic city housed in a beautiful historic building. A quick shower returned us to human status. We spent the late afternoon wandering the windy streets passing by sights...the cathedral, lots of tucked-away churches, and tiny alleys...all whose names I have already forgotten. They will all stick when we actually visit them tomorrow :)

We found a cozy tapas restaurant for a late dinner (9:30) under a clear sky with a perfect breeze. Potatoes, a spanich fritatta, beef and gorganzola, and two icy beers. Wonderful!

We took the long route home through deserted streets. A few nighttime photos to document the peaceful scene.

We will sleep well tonight :) Buenos noches.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting ready...

Dusting off the ole blog in preparation for our trip. Fingers crossed.