After arriving in Spain, we had a few days of “orientation” in Madrid and a stop in Toledo on our way to Granada. Interestingly, the 6th (I arrived on the 4th) is the big Christmas holiday in Spain (El Día de los Reyes Magos). This is the day when the Three Wise Men arrived with gifts for baby Jesus, and so this is the day when all of the children in Spain receive their gifts as well. So, the cities were all decorated in lights and in Madrid we got to see the big and exciting parade on the 5th!
Other than the very fun parade, Madrid was BIG, had beautiful and impressive old buildings, and some great parks. All in all, not really my style. Of course this probably isn’t a fair assessment, but with only a very-brief tour and two whirlwind museum visits (it was cool to Las Meninas in person) I can only have my stylistic-impression.
Here are some pictures:
And then we got to Toledo. The entire city of Toledo is a historical landmark, and you can tell. It sits untouched on top of a hill, surrounded by rivers, just as it has for thousands of years. Yes, thousands. The only changes have come as the city switched hands between religious groups and political powers. Mosques were turned into churches, churches were turned into synagogues, and the history plays out before your eyes between the bridges, archways, and breathtaking buildings.
We had a fabulous tour guide who shared some of the history and secrets of the city, and we spent the entire day exploring the winding cobblestone paths that pass as streets. We joked that Toledo is the city of right-hand turns because you will have no idea where you are but if you turn right enough, you’ll eventually pop out somewhere that you recognize. Around every turn there was something new and wonderful, and as the sun went down the same sights took on an entirely new grandeur. Great food (I tried the traditional partridge), good wine, and hundreds of pictures of later added up to an unforgettable day. In Toledo, you just can’t help but feel as if you have been transported back in time, you just can’t help but feel a little bit magical.
Although I was sad to leave the following morning, I also knew that we would be arriving in Granada and the real adventure was just beginning…