I suppose you could say I am on “summer break” even though I am no longer a student. My job as an English teaching assistant ended last month and I chose not to renew my contract for the upcoming year. So really, I am currently unemployed but I’ve decided to call it a summer break. This means I have lots of free time on my hands (and yes, some of it involves job searching) and I have been trying to enjoy my last few weeks in Europe before I go back to New York at the end of August. I am going to seriously miss Spain and I will probably write a blog post about all the things I will miss about this country.
In the meantime, I guess I’ve been sort of nostalgic since last week all I ever seemed to do is revisit places I’ve already been to. One of those places I revisited was Toledo!
I’ve blogged about Toledo before, but I don’t think I ever posted pictures in those posts so I’m not even bothering linking to them (I am also highly embarrassed to read the way I used to blog, it makes me cringe).
Toledo is located 70 kilometers south of Madrid in the Castilla-La Mancha region (so make that about a half hour on the high speed AVE train from Madrid). It is a World Heritage UNESCO site. It is famous for the peaceful coexistence of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures which lived side by side for several centuries (well that is until the Catholic Kings forcefully expelled the Muslims and Jews). The city used to be the center of the royal court until it was moved to Madrid in 1561. The Old City is located atop a hill which is nearly surrounded by the Tagus River.
Toledo is one of those “must see” day trips if you are visiting Madrid. However, it is maybe one of the most confusing Old Cities I’ve ever had to navigate. Even if you have a map, you will most likely get turned around in the narrow, twisty streets. All the streets look the same and as is typical in Spain, the street names are not always clearly marked. So if you go, know you will get lost at least once or twice. Or maybe ten times.
I decided to visit the cathedral first since the last time I was there with my parents, the cathedral was closed for some reason (possibly due to Semana Santa aka Holy Week). Nicole and her friend Christine decided to go souvenir shopping while I waited in the scorching, brutal sun for my ticket (you usually have to pay to go into cathedrals in Spain).
You can see the chapel of San Santiago in the two pictures directly above. The shells are the dead giveaway since anybody who is familiar with Spain or who has hiked the Camino de Santiago (the pilgrimage to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela) knows that the path is marked by the shell symbol.
A lot of cathedrals in Spain seem to have an inner courtyard with orange trees. Also worthy of note: the painting above was painted by El Greco, the Greek artist who eventually immigrated to Spain and lived most of his life in Toledo (there were quite a number of his paintings in the cathedral). If you have ever visited the Prado in Madrid, you most likely have seen his paintings.
I’ll post the rest of my pictures in a separate post because I have to run. I also realize the cathedral pictures aren’t the greatest–my camera fails at indoor dim lighting. Time for a new camera!