17 May 2010 – On the road, on our own, to Toledo

Well, today is the first day we are on the road on our own.  We picked up the car on Gran Via, no longer covered with a blue carpet, and we were off.  Our GPS unit, “Miss Nüvi”, suggested a couple of turns, and soon we were on A42 for the 90 minute drive to Toledo.  But the first part of A42 was an amazing series of twists and turns all underground, with exits and entrances as if we were on the surface.  We finally saw sunlight again, and we were on our way.  More olive trees, believe it or not, this time only on the left hand side of the road, with industry on the right.  As we approached Toledo, Miss Nüvi told us to take Exit 42B, and when we saw Exit 42, we took it, assuming it would split into A and B.  Wrong, as we saw 42B peeling off to the left.  The result was we had a very nice drive through the suburbs of Toledo, and wound up in the middle of town with the Toledo Parador Hotel nowhere in sight.  A few phone calls got us headed correctly, and when we arrived we learned from the concierge that many GPS units do that.  They especially know nothing about the bridge we have to cross to get to the Parador.

Toledo from the Parador

The hotel was built in the local style only 14 years ago, and is wonderful.  The view across the deep valley and river is spectacular.  Before we headed out we had the “Menu” which was “Las Tres Culturas” lunch, Sephardic, Muslim, and Christian, not all of which was delicious, but consistently interesting.

We headed back to town to see the sights.  The concierge suggested to us a parking lot on the outskirts of town, saying parking in town was not good.  We ignored his advice and found a parking garage across the street from the Toledo Alcazar.  That may sound great, but the Alcazar will open next month, after years of renovation.  We walked to Museo de Santa Cruz which was supposed to have a wonderful El Greco collection.

"The Assumption" by El Greco

Well there were only about two that were actual El Grecos, the others were by his students, or “attributed”, etc.  There was an “Asssumption” that seemed to be a copy of the one in Madrid, only reversed left to right.  There was a very interesting exhibit of Spanish pottery and tiles.

As we were walking through historic streets among historic buildings, one of us with a map, and the other reading from a guide book, I told Teresa it reminded me of wonderful times doing the same thing 54 years ago with my parents in Greece, Italy, and Spain.  It was after my junior year at American University of Beirut, which I got to attend because of my father’s travels.

We then headed for Iglesia de Santo Tome, which has one of El Greco’s masterpieces, “The Burial of Count Orgaz”, who was a generous benefactor of the Church and the poor.  Inside there was a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  We thought the Cathedral would be open until 7:00, but it closed at 6:30, and we missed it.  We’re thinking of visiting it tomorrow, before we head for Salamanca.

In Toledo, they have a no-nonsense way of preventing you

Stop

Go

from running some red lights.  It’s a post that stands up in the middle of  the road, and doesn’t go down until the light turns green.

We wanted something to drink before we headed back.  Teresa ordered her regular Coca Cola Light, but I wanted orange juice.  “Fanta?” he said and I tried my best jugo de naranca.  When he went back to the bar and held up three fresh oranges I knew it would be OK.  It was, and I had a second fresh squeezed orange juice.

We tried Miss Nüvi again, and she still was no help.  A map got us home, and we had a good meal and sat on our patio for a while afterwards.  It was a good day.

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