Today I think I died and went to Toledo.
Without a doubt the most beautiful city I have ever laid eyes on. Pictures don't do this place justice- heck, they don't do Europe justice! I will do my best though- whew here goes!
This morning we woke up and it was COLD. This made me a little angry because I didn't want to wear a jacket/change my clothes when Fernando told us that we were very underdressed. We all met at the station around 9:30 AM, (all you Americans were probably just reaching the REM cycle) and rode a big o'l bus from Alcalá to Toledo, which was about an hour and a half drive. The best thing that happened on this drive? We stopped at a gas station and I found COCA COLA LIGHT. Yep, and it must be laced with gold, because it cost me 2.5 Euro. Don't think I'll be doing that anymore.
Mostly we were just on freeways and the like, so when we turned off the freeway and I began to see this scene, my heart about stopped beating.
We picked up our tour guide and then began climbing this hill that overlooks the city- que bellisima! Everyone all of a sudden was whipping out cameras right and left, yelling, gasping, an trying to get pictures through the bus windows. When we stopped to get out of the bus, it was a mad rush out of there. The scene was soooooo breathtaking beautiful.
Welcome to Toledo, España, once the capital and superpower of Europe. All this buildings circa 13th-15th century. Can you even believe it?
After getting all the photography out of the way, we wound our way back down to the city, got off the bus, and went right into the city. It is amazing. People actually live here!
When we got into Toledo, the first thing we did was go to Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada, which is like the Vatican of Spain. This cathedral took 2 centuries to complete, and words nor pictures can explain how big and beautiful this place was. I only got a couple pictures of the exterior because pictures inside are a big no-no. Boo. There were many painting by El Greco and Velasquez inside, along with painstakingly intricate designs which covered every surface of the ginormous building. I wish I knew more about Art History so I could have appreciated all the works more and had a little more background knowlege, but even without knowing a lot, I still couldn't believe I wasn't dreaming. Anyways, do me a big favor and go look up this cathedral- you won't be sorry.
After seeing this, we continued to walk the streets and went to get marzipan, a Toledo treat, which is made of almond paste, sugar, and honey. The nuns of Toledo make it, actually, because as one of my friends said, "they don't have anything else to do!". Haha the best part about the marzipan though was buying it. We had to go into this creepy little corner store, ring a bell, and watched a light would go on in this glass case with a picture of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus inside. The nun opened up the creepy door/picture and instructed us to open the other side of the window, took the order, and gave us the marzipan. Nuns=creepy I decided.
After the marzipan break, we walked around to some other sites, and saw another amazing thing I wish I could appreciate more- "The Burial of Count Orgaz", which is another painting by El Greco. He was born in Toledo, and commissioned to paint this obra in la Iglesia de Santo Tomé in the early 1500s. It's so big and pretty!
Toledo is one of the only cities in Europe where early century Muslims, Jews, and Christians coexisted, and so there are iglesias of all three types in Toledo, all very pretty and full of history. Our guide was knowledgeable, but at the same time very hard to understand through her thick accent, so I was only able to piece together parts of the tour- just being able to see everything was enough for me though!
After our tour finished, we had time to go venture out into the city alone. My group spent our time taking lots of pictures and walking to a 14th century bridge over the river, and finishing our time in Toledo with a little helado, and a good rest on the bus ride back. Goodbye, Toledo, see you soon!
When we got back from the day's fun, I spent the night explaining what "bagels" were, and showing Fernando + wife videos of how to make them, and proving to them that they really ARE boiled in water! They thought I was crazy, but now Mama just wants to make them. Fine with me! :)
Tomorrow school starts.... wooh. Wish me luck