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.

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