Home » Middle East » Middle East- May 17, 2012

Middle East- May 17, 2012

I heard a snippet of something called the ‘Mormon Rap’ today which was comical and included all kinds of profanity like ‘jimminy cricket’ and ‘fiddle-dee-dee’, which reminds me of another one that was not in the song: Holy Toledo.  Today’s trip was to Toledo, but not Ohio (day trips to other continents across large oceans were ruled out) but instead to Toledo, España (Spain).

Departing after 09:00, we boarded the bus for an hour-long drive to Toledo, which is a smaller town outside of Madrid and was described by our tour guide with the following summary: “If you have one day to do something in Spain, go to Toledo.”  Indeed, the town of around 80k people is charming and has a variety of shopping and other tourist attractions.  After getting into town we were on our own for around six hours.  While I do not know what everybody else did, I was able to go and photograph the cathedral with our tour guide providing insights along the way.  As with most cathedrals the size was impressive as was some of the artwork inside.  Secretly I wanted to find the console for the organ (or organs?  they appeared to have two sets of pipes here and there) and play something really amazing like Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D-minor, but then I realized the impossibility of the feat (never mind that I didn’t have permission; I also do not know how to play the piece).  The cathedral had artwork and historic artifacts from Spain’s past.  This is considered Spain’s first cathedral and had a room full of paintings of cardinals for over one thousand years (though many of those predated the cathedral itself).

Around Toledo there are various shops selling all kinds of wares: want a four-foot sword?  No problem.  An armor outfit or flamenco costume?They have you covered.  Trinkets and souvenirs are available in every color and size and I’m sure some family members will be surprised and delighted by new additions to their homes in a couple days.  The weather in Toledo was pretty nice for walking around… mostly sunny, a fair temperature, no wind or rain.  I feel bad for those on the Asian or European trips who have had to deal with inclement weather when we have not had a single bit of it.

Returning to the hotel we had opportunities to go to the Prado museum in Madrid which is about a block from the hotel and has paintings and sculptures from famous artists such as Rafael.  There was one sculpture in particular I stumbled upon that looked like a woman with a veil over her face.  It was all white and looked like you could see through the veil to the face, but it was all some kind of rock(marble?) so I cannot figure out how it was done.  It reminded me of what I assume is the same kind of sculpture in a scene from the recent Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightley.  In fact, I think the following is a picture of it that Google found for me (the second one on this page.. the one with just the head):

http://www.robincamille.com/2009-03-22-veiled-lady-femme-voilee/  The museum did not permit taking pictures or I’d have a picture of my own, but oh well.  Another one online:

http://www.artsmia.org/viewer/detail.php?id=12092&v=12

The rest of the evening involved scattering about to find pizza, Magnum bars, and whatever else could be counted as local Spanish cuisine long enough to justify purchase and consumption.  Pizza may not be native to Spain but little rectangular slices with chicken and honey mustard, or a “green pizza” with some feta-like cheese surely does hit the spot anyway.  Tomorrow morning we have a “debrief” as a class so it’s way past time for bed.


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