by Laura Ellis on Monday, August 9, 2010
As part of having a true Spanish experience, a friend from back home and I came over here with the intention of spending one weekend a month travelling, in order to not only experience life in our (new) hometown but also so we could see the different regions and traditions around Spain. This weekend, it was the turn of Toledo.
After a few hiccups between us (a mistake in our historical perception, a bus strike making the return home almost impossible, a lack of appropriate footwear and the anticipation of a 40°C heatwave), we made it alive to our hotel for a quick rest before embarking on discovering the town (this time with a map, making life much easier!!!).
Very reminiscent of our university town, this small city is compact but also an unforgettable experience. Despite our disapppointment upon discovering that the Greco museum was in fact closed for renovation, sights such as the cathedral and its decadent decoration more than made up for this, somewhat of a shame however that in our excitement over certain aspects, our voices got a little too high and we were shushed rapidly by a wandering security guard, oops much!
Other high points included explorations of the museums, many of which seemed to be based in converted hospitals, with exhibitions based on Greco as well as Ceramics through the ages, a clear key element of Toledan history. Furthermore the architecture of both these buildings, the churches, and everyday visions of the streets is the importance fo the moorish roots of this town, with intrinsic artwork showing the centrality of the history.
After more of a walk out of town to the north of the city centre and you stumble across the roman ruins in a open park, although not (again!) clearly signposted as a site of historical interest, this area was filled with history and untainted by large commercial plans, making it clearly a haven for locals as well as an interesting sight off the beaten track. Further on, we encountered the Plaza de Toros, covered in propoganda both regarding the next event as well as those anti-bull fighting, a rather contraversial mix, but highlighting the controvery regarding contemporary culture of Spain. After this, it was a slow meander to the bus station, full of tales of a wonderful weekend away.
Be warned though, navigating this town is far from easy, and impossible without a map or a local guide. Winding streets and confusing signs meant two hours of us wandering in circles around our hotel unable to find it.