Toward the end of our Spanish adventure, Nicole and I decided to give our fatigued tour guide/translator/body guard a day off, so we ventured out on our own to the rustic town of Toledo.
Just an hour away from Madrid, we arrived by bus and walked out of the terminal into a whole new world. Almost immediately, we regretted leaving our trusty Pabs back in Madrid.
We wandered for a bit, but grew frustrated because we had no idea as to where to go and my Spanish, tired and true, just wasn’t helping the situation. Needing to break and map out a plan, we sat down at a restaurant and discussed our situation over some lunch. Finally, I built up the courage to use my Spanish, and when I tried to ask the waiter where to pay, I instead said, “Should we fight here?” Spanish IV, ladies and gentlemen.
So, lost, confused and overly agressive, things were going well for us in Toledo.
We decided to bite the bullet and pay ten euros for a city bus tour–I know, I know… this totally goes against everything I believe in–because we realized we just weren’t accomplishing much on our own. Turns out, this was debatably the best decision we made in Spain.
As you can tell, we really had to fight for a good seat. We practically sprinted to the top deck to get a spot on the front row, (if I was going to do something so cliche and touristy, I was sure as hell going to have the best seat in the house…) only to find two French girls who didn’t really see the competition involved in picking seats. The other tourists, who claimed seats on the heated first level, were probably ridiculing the “agressive Americans” who didn’t check the forecast… because as soon as the bus rolled out, a storm rolled in.
It was freezing and we were being pelted by rain, so the French girls said “au revior” and joined the others on the first level. I knew they wouldn’t last in such conditions, but I didn’t expect my wingwoman to say goodbye so soon. A bit persnickety with my photography, I wasn’t about to try to take pictures through a bus window stained with raindrops and fingerprints, so I stayed up top and rode out the storm all by my lonesome.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone for long… Nicole quickly found her way back to the top deck after an 80-year-old man began blatantly taking pictures of her with his hot pink camera. Once again, things were going well in Toledo.
Fortunately, the city is still astonishing, rain or shine. It has a mixture of Arab, Jewish, Christian, and Roman elements that make it truly unparalleled. The Tagus river paints a border around three sides of the city, leaving the alluring ex-capital of Spain rather isolated atop a hill.
The city radiated a medieval vibe with its myriad of stone bridges and gothic arches.
And the skinny streets were full of personality, as jewel-tone lanterns were suspended from curtains that draped in every direction above the curious shops and restaurants.
Were we beyond ready to head back to Madrid at the end of the day? Absolutely.
Was it a little reminiscent of our French adventure? Definitely.
But Toledo is most certainly worth mentioning. And as miserable as we may have been, Toledo doesn’t control the weather… or its sinister old men.
If in Spain… see it, do it, experience it.
Because that’s the beauty of travel… no two experiences are the same.