Thursday, January 8

Monday, December 15, 2008

We started the day with an optional trip to Toledo, which is about a 30-minute drive from Madrid. It was incredible. Very old—medieval, I think. We visited a cathedral that was just gorgeous. It was huge, with ornate details in carved wood and stone, lots of gold everywhere, lots of stained glass. It had three enormous organs. We wished we could have heard them play.

Our guide led us through the town, down really narrow, winding streets—not even wide enough for a single car. The city was on a big hill, too, so it was all pretty steep. Beautiful buildings, with some of the original doors. We saw El Greco’s famous painting of the ascent of a spirit to heaven. It was a cool painting, but we spent at least 30 minutes standing there listening to the guide talk about it. Could’ve been fully discussed in 15 minutes, if you ask me.

We also visited a Damascene workshop in Toledo. I bought a beautiful pendant there, all gold and black with a bird on it. Just lovely.

We took the bus back to Madrid and found lunch at a little place down the street from the hotel. The sign said fumar was prohibido, but there was indeed fumar (smoking) there. Plenty of smokers in Spain, actually. Seems like pretty much everyone smokes. Anyway, lunch wasn’t great, but that could’ve been our fault. (We aren’t sure how to order sometimes, because we don’t know the language well enough. By which I mean we don’t know the language at all.) Also, it’s strange how they just throw trash on the floor here. All around the bar area, the floor is littered with wadded up napkins and cigarette butts.

This afternoon we took a bus tour of Madrid. It was kind of lame, because we saw a bunch of the same stuff yesterday, like the Royal Palace and the Prado. We did stop at a bullfighting arena, but couldn’t go in. Also stopped at a statue of Don Quixote. We heard a lot about him on the way to Toledo. I get the feeling this won’t be the last we hear of Don Quixote while in Spain. When the tour was over, we went with Mark and Natalie to this cool indoor botanical garden and got coffee, then went across the street to the Reina Sophia museum. We saw lots of Picasso and Dali there. Saw Picasso’s Guernica.

We ate tapas and pizza with Mark and Natalie at a charming little place with stone walls and servers who tried to understand us and we tried to understand them. Again, drank lots of wine—four bottles among the four of us. Pretty sure I drank far less than my equal share, and for that I’m grateful. We decided to take a bus back to the hotel since we were tired, even though it was probably only a 20-minute walk. We missed our stop, though, and after a really long time on the bus, we ended up getting off at a random subway stop and taking that back toward the hotel—six stops away. Fortunately, Natalie and Mark knew which stop the hotel was closest to, because we didn’t have a map. When we eventually got back, we drank even more wine before heading to bed at around 12:30. Which was too late for still-jet-lagged me, especially considering our wake-up call tomorrow is at 6:45am.

1 comment:

Madrid Spain Native said...

You´ll hear about Quixjote every two minutes!!

Anyways; The botanical garden is the Atocha Train station (the same one that was bombed in the 11 March attacks). When the station was modernised the platforms were built outside the old structure and the part you´re standing in was the old station masters level.

Toledo is a nice trip from Madrid and very easy to do however I must recomend Segovia if you want the Roman stuff! Check it out: