Saturday, April 28, 2012

Toledo Exploration

We have a rental car for the rest of our trip, so we have complete freedom to wander wherever we want to go.  On the trip between Segovia and Toledo, I caught up on emails, read, and enjoyed the scenery.  Mom (the driver) did her best to point out a church in every city and to figure out the logic between which roads have tolls and which do not.  Having the directions that we could walk through on the iPad made it much easier to get out of one town and head to another.  With luck, TMobile will figure out what is wrong with my phone soon so that we can get directions on the fly if we change our minds.

Toledo is a medieval city with much to see, but we were primarily interested in their cathedral.  It was well worth the stop.  We parked outside the walls of the old city and took the escalators to the city itself.  Nothing says medieval city like an escalator, right?  At the top, we had a short discussion about whether or not we should stop in the tourist information center to get a map.  I thought we could just follow the signs to the cathedral. It turns out mom was right.  Even with a map we got lost several times.

We had another audio tour of the cathedral and it was positively amazing inside.  My favorite part was the transparente.  Because it was such a big and dark church, they decided to cut out a skylight.  But then they had to figure out how to blend that in with the rest of the church.  The result is a combination of fresco, sculpture, and God's own sunlight that takes your breath away.  The best photo I have been able to find was at but it still doesn't really do the church justice.

Mom really liked the choir area.  Each of the seat backs had beautiful carvings, depicting battles that Spain had won defending various towns.  I was impressed that the clergy that made up the choir had to stand for long masses, singing from giant hymnals in front of them.  They carved "mercy seats" into the designs of the choir seats, allowing the clergy to perch on them slightly even though they weren't allowed to sit down.

On our way out of Toledo, we ran into Barb from the LLS office.  Unfortunately it was her last day in Spain, but it was very fun to run into her randomly!

After chatting with Barb for a few minutes, we headed south to Granada to spend the night there.  Well, actually...  I think we probably headed north, then west, then east and then south.  ;)  Having Internet access makes quite a difference with finding the right roads to get on.  Spain seems to share highways quite often, so we find ourselves sorting through 5 highways listed on the sign to see if the one we want is there.  Then we have to figure out which direction it is headed.  Spanish highways don't say anything about north/south or east/west.   They just list a couple of cities that direction.  Since we don't know where anything is, we have to search on the map to see if those cities are in the direction we want.

We stopped for gas on our way south and were able to grab some Internet, so I looked up directions to a hotel in Granada.

We arrived in Granada after dark on Wednesday evening and I lost the directions to the hotel just after we pulled off of the freeway.  Because people are not allowed to drive through the center of Granada, we were a little stressed out about just wandering our way to the hotel.

In the end, we decided to pull into 4 star hotel we had driven by and ask how much the room would be for the night.  In Spain, there is a national rating system for hotels and this one looked like it might be closer to my Madrid hotel which had charged us a couple hundred dollars/night for a double room.  Anyways, much to our surprise, the hotel said only 60 euros for a room and had parking underneath for 10 euros more so we decided to stay there.

We were tired and hungry so we went to the hotel bar for dinner and ended up seeing the Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich game on TV.  There were only about 15 minutes left in the game when we sat down, but the teams were kind enough to take the game to OT for us.  Mom gave me grief for ordering a hamburger for dinner, but it was well worth it.  It did say that it was an Andalucian hamburger, but the only difference I noticed was the addition of an egg.  I had heard from friends that the egg on a burger thing was good, but had never tried it.  Mom has really been embracing ensalata mixta, which is a green salad with tuna on top of it.

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