Friday, December 9, 2011

A Winter’s Tale

Once again - internet access has been patchy so this blog is a few days late.

OK so we knew it would be cold in Central Spain, but really this is ridiculous. We have just spent 2 days in glorious Toledo, wading through the thick cold fog. Once the fog lifted at about 2pm, and the sun came out it was quite delightful, max about 10 degrees.

View of Toledo from our Parador
We spent the night at the wonderful Toledo Parador, which is situated across the river on a hill overlooking the city. The position is enhanced by the inability to see any of the modern city. From the terrace you can see the Cathedral and the Alcazar standing proud of the other buildings. The Cathedral is so large you can only really see fully it from afar.

Once inside the cathedral we were completely overawed by the ornate nature of this building. Nothing so far has come this close. One side room housed 16 El Greco’s, a Rafael, a Caravaggio, a Titian, a Van Dyk – this is supposed to be a church!! The side chapels, the altars and the choir stalls were almost hideous in their conflicting gaudy styles.
Altar of Toledo's Cathedral

We loved the mix of religious buildings, Mosques that were turned into churches after the reclamation, but still look like beautiful mosques, synagogues, basilicas and wonderful winding streets to get lost in and find nice bars. Also did the obligatory El Greco museum. Love the 12 Apostles, the rest were a bit weird for my taste.

We are becoming very Spanish and had late lunch – 2.30!!
Beautiful Crypt in Madrid's Cathedral

Next was Madrid. We spent the night at a lovely hotel – bargain prices due to off-season. Once again it was freezing cold, but the promised rain stayed away. Madrid is very grand and ornate but nothing really stood out to us except the bars and the food. Barcelona is feted as the Tapas capital, but we felt that the Tapas bars and the restaurants in Madrid were more fun, cheaper, friendlier, easier to find and full of locals. Needles to say to we took advantage of this and ate very very well.
Wonderful Paella - can't get enough of this stuff.

Got back to the Mog and declined dinner.

We’ve had some funny experienced with ordering food. Lawrence’s Spanish is coming along quite well, mine is restricted to ordering vino tinto. On our last day in Aranjuez we walked into town for lunch. We thought we were ordering raciones, which are like tapas but bigger, so we ordered 3 dishes. Out came 3 enormous meals, which wouldn’t fit on the table, one of which was a hot dog!! Lawrence thought he had ordered stuffed pimentos, but got a hot dog. We had a good laugh but the staff must have though we were balmy.

We are now just outside Granada in the Sierra Nevada. We can see snow covered mountains from the bar - yes first stop was the bar. It was a LONG day’s drive. We had intended to stop in a National Park campsite on the way, near a very cute town, but the yellow truck could not make it through the gateway – too high! Groan, on we go.

We drove through La Mancha vineyards, industrial sprawl, a mountain pass with deep gorges and into olive grove country, with snow covered mountains outlining our horizon. MAN, I’ve never such vast olive “plantations”, as far as the eye could see, mile after mile. No wonder they give them away free in the bars.

Disappointingly, Granada’s urban sprawl is also vast. We had no idea it had grown so much. The accompanying pollution is also ghastly. We are booked in to see the Allhambra on Friday as our guide book suggested that booking ahead is recommended as visitors are restricted to 8,100 per day…!!!  once again I’m hoping that off season will be in our favour.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.