Sunday, May 22, 2011

Holy Toledo!

I can now without incident brag that I've been to the two Toledo's. The first being the Midwest swing-state of Ohio home to the Anthony Wayne Trail, Beirut Bakery, Maumee River, and punk band The Necros. The second marked off the list has seen a little bit more history and sits on a hill about a 30-minute train ride (70 km) south of Madrid. We secretly have a knack for ending up at tourist destinations on national or religious holidays (as in when things are closed), but the advantage is you get the entire town to yourself.     

Toledo's advantage is Rio Tajo (Tagus River), a natural buffer to keep invading armies out. Across the Tagus sits Castillo de San Servando.

Our bus dropped us off at the highest point a few steps from The Alcazar-Museo del Ejercito (Museum of the Army). We didn't enter as it was closed. The site was once a Roman Palace during the third century until the Moors took over the mortgage. Later it was handed over to the Spanish royalty.

"It became famous during the Spanish Civil War when the Republicans laid siege to it for 70 days in 1936 and it was almost completely destroyed. During the siege, General Jose Moscardo Ituarte was the Nationalist Army chief and the Republicans held his 16 year old son Luis.

Colonel Moscardó was called on the telephone by the chief of the Worker's Militia on the morning of July 23 in Toledo and told that if the Alcázar were not surrendered within ten minutes, his son Luis would be shot. Colonel Moscardó asked to speak to his son and his son asked what he should do. His father replied, "then commend your soul to God, shout 'Viva España' and die like a hero." To which the son said, "That is quite simple. Both I will do." Colonel Moscardó then told the chief of the Worker's Militia that he would not surrender the Alcázar and a few minutes later he received a call stating that his son had been shot. In fact, it was not until a month later - August 23 - that his son was shot, in reprisal for an air raid. Historians doubt the official version about the conversation and the shooting."

Ana standing at the door of Catedral de Toledo. As luck would have it we entered in the middle of mass and immediatly left.

Image stolen from Click here for a look inside the cathedral and the history...the part we missed. 
The streets are narrow with mirrors placed at various intersections to keep cars from crashing into each other.

By this point we had almost made a full circle of the town and decided it would be a good time to find a tourist center and pick up a map. The ladies at the office were helpful and friendly and asked where we traveled from. When we mentioned "Egypt" they insisted that we visit the large Jewish quarter. 

Dear Ian MacKay, see the influence a Minor Threat song had on Toledo, Spain. 
The score is Minor Threat: 1 The Necros: IQ 32

Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes. This was as close as we got. A constant problem when writing a post is using photos of places we didn't fully explore. In retrospect you're like "shit, we should have walked those few meters instead of eating that overpriced day-old Spanish Tortilla." While eating we saw a couple of cars being towed. It's a real art moving illegally parked cars out of tight spots.

A trip to Toledo isn't complete without a visit to the El Greco Museum. It was one of the spots the ladies at the tourist office told us to go since it was free and near the synagogue Santa Maria la Blanca Ana just asked if that was the real title.

El Greco's garden.

Another filler shot of Rio Tajo, looks like a prime tubing spot.

I will be opening my pizza/brew pub in this building in 2013. Hope to see you there!

Puente de Alcantara is an arch bridge built by the Romans (or their slaves).

The highway the Moors took when they invaded Toledo.

The Pope watching over Ana.

Straight Edge has caught-on but Street Art has yet to.

When all was said and done on the way back to the train station Ana mentioned that I would have gone crazy had we stayed the night. She figured there wasn't much for me to get in trouble with and beside we had a date at Las Ventas later in the evening. 

The story of our trip to Spain wouldn't be complete without mentioning the engineer from the Ukraine at the Cairo Airport. While we were waiting for our flight at a coffee shop a huge hooligan looking European was staring over at us. It appeared that he had trouble connecting to the free wifi. His laptop was twice the size of mine when he plopped it on my lap. While I was troubleshooting I noticed the cuts on his grease stained hands as he dug into his bag of potato chips. The connection failed, so he brought over his carry-on luggage and we chatted away. By the time we headed to our gate we made a new friend and landed an invitation to his home in the Ukraine (little does he know that we'll actually show up). The man just finished a seven-month gig in the Red Sea working in the engine room 14 hours a day on a vessel transporting fuel. The day before was his first on land since October. He was on his way home for a few months before heading out again. I asked why he had several bags of chips. He had been Egyptian'd-meaning the store "didn't have change" for his large note, so his change was in potato chips.

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