Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Liz Weeden - March 11 and 12

Picture 1 - Kirsten and Liz with the rolling hills of Toledo in the background.

Picture 2 - A cathedral with Moorish-inspired architecture.

Turned around in Toledo

Arrival in Toledo came with group nap time. The short trip to Madrid had exhausted us! Once we had rested we ventured out into the steep, cobblestone streets of the old city.
Toledo is interesting because it is historically known as a very tolerant place. Throughout history, Christians, Muslims, and Jewish people have lived in general equality. However, during the days of the crusades and Spanish Inquisition there was obviously more oppression in the area. Despite these exceptions, the religious tolerance seems to have survived in Toledo, even up to modern day. The city has mosques, churches, and synagogues, all within a mile of each other, and each centuries old. Much of the architecture still has a very Moorish, or Islamic, structure with geometric shapes and domed tops. It is only when you notice the out-of-place cross haphazardly placed on top of the Islamic-inspired buildings that the historical changes in culture can be seen.
The group certainly got a work-out as we walked from place to place. Most of the city is uphill with winding streets so we found our way around less by the map and more by walking and hoping we were going the right direction. We did stumble on an ancient mosque with painted ceilings and a synagogue that retraced the steps of Judaism in Spain. Getting lost didn’t seem so bad since we were finding surprises along the way that taught us some of Spain’s history.
The night before leaving we decided we were craving gelato and went in search of a store that was open. It’s really hard to go from the 24 hour days of NYC metropolitan life to the random hours of European towns. We ended up finding a gelato shop, but unfortunately their gate was closed. But being the friendly person that she is, Kirsten got the workers to open the shop just for us! Ice cream has never tasted so good.
So from the history to the shopping to the gelato, Toledo made a good impression. Maybe next time we’ll just bring a GPS.

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