Sunday, July 23, 2006
Iberian Adventures come to an end
DAY 11--4 July 2006 Tues
Today we drive to Granada—quite a different trip from our prior visit there (by train). As we approached Granada, I kept looking for something familiar, but to no avail.
We went straight to the Alhambra for our guided tour. I was glad we had been there before because we saw far less than our prior visit there. We toured the old palace, and the Generalife, but did not go up in the towers in the Alcazar at all.
After the Alhambra visit, we went directly to our hotel and checked in, then out to get some lunch.
At 3 p.m. (the temp outside was the hottest day we had—37 o C) we went to the Albaicin for a walking tour—much the same as we had 3 yrs ago only then it was at night and in winter.
Next we toured the Carthusian Monks Monastery—an example of Spanish baroque. Sadly no photos allowed inside—there was stunning variegated red marble and lots of gold. Stunning carved ornate altars.
Last we went to the cathedral where los Reyes Catolicas are buried. We walked back to the hotel afterwards through the twisting alleys with little shops. A bit of disorienting, but we found our way back.
After a so-so dinner in the hotel, we watched World Cup semi-final (Italy vs. Germany—Italy won).
DAY 12--5 July 2006 Wed
Our last day of vacation—we left Granada to return to Madrid by way of a stop in Toledo.
Our first stop was for lunch in a small village in La Mancha with a small farmhouse converted into a restaurant. We had pepper stew!
Then to Toledo driving past some of the millions of olive trees in Spain. We stopped first at the Damascene Steel works where we bought some gifts for home. In Toledo we went on a walking tour where we saw: first, Toledo Cathedral, a fine example of Gothic architecture—88 interior columns, 4 rose windows, 20 + cardinals buried there (their red hats are hanging over the burial spots), and 3 organs.
Second, the church of St. Thomas which has an el Greco painting: the Burial of Count Orgaz. Again no photos. A quick stop to be told that along with the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, this is the best painting in the world! I can just hear Kristen now.
Third, after a walk through the old Jewish quarter (Toledo had a large Jewish population during the Middle Ages) to see the older synagogue in Toledo, which is now a church.
Fourth, as we left Toledo we crossed a 900 yr. old bridge—the Tagus River surround ¾ of Toledo and walls guard the remaining ¼.
Back in Madrid, we had our farewell dinner in a restaurant in a cave. Carlin had lamb, and I had suckling pig. Excellent meal complete with musicians—supposed university students. Our group is exceptionally bonded, so as we drove for one last sight of Madrid at night, we said goodbyes. Back at the hotel, more farewells and goodbyes hugs.