Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The next stop on our trip was Toledo. I’d been wanting to go to Toledo since I learnt about it’s history in a Spanish Architecture class. What had interested me was the long history of co-existence between Muslim, Jewish and Christian cultures, and how that presence remains visually apparent in the architecture. This diverse inspiration of styles is one of the reasons for Toledo’s historic center 's UNESCO heritage designation.  

"ruining all" Andre's pictures

We arrived early in the afternoon, stopped at the tourist office immediately located outside the train, picked up a map, and took the bus to the old center.  After dropping of our bags we walked around, stopped for lunch, and toured the Cathedral. Toledo is a common day trip destination for travelers, it only being 30 minutes outside of Madrid by train. We opted to stay the night though, and found a little hotel with a roof top patio to watch the sunset. 

Sunset from the roof top
We did have trouble finding anything open after the sunset though.  The only place open didn’t look that appetizing, we did give it a go, and I’m glad we did because I had a full out conversation in Spanish!

I’d been listening to Coffee Break Spanish podcasts and pestering Andre to practice Español with me too. I certainly was ecstatic when I went up the bar to get the “cuenta,” (bill) and as I was having trouble with the pronunciation of “cuenta” an elderly man smiled at my attempts. 

Cathedral, on our walk back to the hotel
I smiled back and said:
Hoy no hablo español” – I don’t speak Spanish

to which he replied:
“¿De dónde eres?” – Where are you from?

shocked, I realized I knew the answer!
Soy de Canada, pero ahora vivo en Francia” – I’m from Canada, but now I live in France!

Nodding, he asked:
“¿Te gusta Toledo?” – Do you like Toledo?

in my excitement all I could stammer out was, si si, estupendo, magnifico!”

The next morning we took the hike downhill to the train station to catch the next train south to the Andalucía region.......


Sunday, January 23, 2011


¡Feliz año nuevo! Meilleurs Voeux! Its now 2011! I haven’t made a post in so long, perhaps only because I’ve been a little daunted by the amount I will have to do to cover our first “backpacking” trip together in Europe. We started in Madrid, and over 10 days visited Toledo, Cordoba, Seville and Malaga. 

We flew out Boxing Day with all the other weary travelers who had been stranded at Charles de Gaulle. 

                           CBC News article 

Our flight was a little delayed but we made it to Madrid safe and sound late that night. After checking into our little room at Hostal Astoria, we went out in search of some tapas. 

Right: Painted Mural in Bodega Meliba, where we had a tapa of ham served from the leg mounted at the bar. 

The next day after a delicious breakfast at the Museo del Jamon where the ham legs hang by the hundreds we walked around the city centre checking out the “hot spots” including the Plaza Mayor and the Palacio Real. 

Below Left: Palacio Real
Below Right: Painted facade in the the Plaza Mayor

Below Left: Frost in the Gardens outside the Palacio Real 
Below Right: Avenue leading out of the Plaza Mayor

For lunch we went to the Mercado de San Miguel where different tapas and drinks are sold over the counter in a classy market style hall. 

Our lunch of pork rinds and sangria

That night we went out on the town, eating and drinking our way through Madrid. We stumbled upon two places were the tapas were free, but our third shot wasn’t as lucky, so we splurged on some calamari. 


We ended our night with a highly recommended chocolata con churro, which can be broken down as follows: the chocolata which is a rich dark hot chocolate so thick you'd have to eat it with a spoon and then there's the churros, deep fried deliciousness that you dunk into your chocolata. 

Bon Appétit!