Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Toledo // Day One

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Toledo was a trip I had wanted to do since last year in Barcelona. Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough time to see everything. So I made it happen this year with my trusted travel buddy, Rachel. In Córdoba we learned that there are three medieval synagogues still standing in Spain. We saw the one in Córdoba and decided to finish out the trifecta in Toledo.
As much as Toledo was about frantic tourism, it was also about treating ourselves. We were reaching the end of the school year, we were tired, and we wanted a break away from the heat of Seville. Instead of a normal train, we booked the Ave (Spain’s super speedy train) a month in advance for maximum comfort and speed. We also opted out of a hostel and booked an apartment through Air bnb. I highly recommend doing this if you plan enough in advance. The owner of the apartment picked us up at the train station and got us settled into our home away from home for the weekend. The apartment cost a bit more than a hostel, but we had a terrace, two separate bedrooms, our own kitchen, and a very central location.
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We ended up arriving during a holiday so there was very little open to tour. We ended up in the Jewish quarter and saw one of the two synagogues on our itinerary. As you can deduce from the name, the Synagogue of Santa Maria de la Blanca used to be a synagogue but is now a Catholic temple. I think they keep it open for the money, but I found it fascinating to see how Catholicism takes over and changes every other religious remnant in Spain. The mosque in Córdoba is the clearest example of this. There wasn’t much to see in the Synagogue of Santa Maria de la Blanca so Rachel and I played with my fancy camera and were shameless models.
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After that we wandered around the rest of the Jewish quarter, enjoying the beautiful day. We stopped to take photos outside of the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes. The mammoth monastery was purposely built in the Jewish quarter to demonstrate Catholic dominance. After purchasing Marzipan (famous in Toledo), we headed back to take advantage of our apartment. We napped and then went to a delicious middle-eastern restaurant. I was very content among the hummus, falafel, and baklava. We ended our day by watching National Treasure 2…in Spanish. It was a fun and unexpected challenge.
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