I’ve done quick trips to Toledo before. But that was Toledo, Ohio. And let me tell you, the Toledo Zoo didn’t prepare me for the stunning architecture, winding cobblestone streets, and lively feel of Toledo, Spain.
A day after trekking through Segovia, Mr.Dame in Spain and I took the high-speed train from Madrid to Toledo. It’s pretty cool than in 20 minutes, we were transported from Madrid to an ancient walled town that was first inhabited in Bronze age, but that is still alive and bustling (it has a population of about 84,000). Jews, Muslims, and Christians all ruled the city at some point in history, so traces of all three religions are evident in the stunning architecture. We actually saw a few structures that reminded us a lot of buildings in Yemen.
Spain has a bunch of state-owned luxury hotels called paradors that are in old castles, fortresses, convents and other historic buildings. We stayed the Parador Toledo, a old manner house, which is rather modern inside (I would have preferred a more historic interior) but wow, the view. The Parador is outside and above the city, making for a stunning sun-drenched, panoramic view of the city and a perfect place to sip a cafe con leche before heading into town. We took a 10-minute cab ride into the city, and did our best to hold out until 9pm at which point we had cozy dinner in the basement cave in a place called La Abadia. Grilled veggies for me (vegetarian options are extremely limited in restaurants in Spain, I’m finding) and Mr. Dame sampled the local delicacy: partridge stew.
The next day, we walked and walked and walked, and then toured the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, which is ornate and filled with more flying buttresses than countable (but didn’t contain a single monkey). We also toured a museum called the Toledo Army Museum which is all about wars and armory. This would not be my first choice of museum. Actually, it would likely be my second-to-last choice, falling somewhere between a museum on cement and one on fungus infections in toenails. But I can’t always be dragging Mr.Dame on The Sound of Music tours and antiquing excursions and expect to not have to pay my dues. Anyways, it was good for me to get a little history lesson on Spain. What most stood out to us was how many countries belonged to the Spanish Empire at various points in time, especially when Spain was the premier global power in the world, back in the 16th and 17th centuries. Half of what is now the United States, Mexico, a huge chunck of South America, parts of Africa, Asia, and parts of Italy all belonged to Spain hundreds of years ago. I’d love to learn more about Spanish history, but since reading history books is really not my thing (unless it’s gripping historical fiction), Mr. Dame and I decided to start a Spanish TV show called Isabel about Isabella the Catholic, the late-15th Century Queen of Castile. It’s in Spanish, so it will be hard for me to follow with my currently limited language skills, but hot Renaissance sex scenes and sword fights should keep me interested (and maybe even teach me a thing or two) about the history of this grand country.
Watered-down history lesson complete. And now: Some photos!
The Dame in Spain