Sunday, September 13, 2009


Good morning all!
Another hot day in Toledo but increasing cloud meant the temperature was down. It was 22 at 9.00am and 28 at 7.00pm but as it had tried to rain several times (and in fact has just succeeded in a desultory fashion) the humidity is Singapore style.
I did a lot of walking today, trying to see all the sights and failed a bit. The only person I met and spent some time with was a 30yo Argentinian with excellent English who has the same camera. We spent quite a time discussing them, and showing each other our pics. Then he rushed off to see Cristo de la Luz, the converted mosque, while I tried for a museum I´d passed coming into town yesterday. Unfortunately it shut as I arrived. I spent quite a long time at a Franciscan church, and a Benedictine monastery founded in (1476?) by the Catolic Reyes, Isabel and Ferdinand. Once they married and then controlled most of Spain between them, the wealth they had and threw around was almost obscene.
As each Muslim outpost fell, its treasury built another monastery, hospital, or church (just to rub salt in the wounds), and funded the next conquest. Of course, the fall of Granada led the way to the capture of the Americas and the stupendous riches there. They were absolutely insatiable, but I guess, so would I have been in the circumstances.
This monastery´s church is interesting and rich as you´d expect, and the lower cloisters pretty standard stuff, but the upper cloisters! Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! The ceilings are the most amazing mudejar (Arab) timber work and I was allowed to photograph them without sneaking. Sorry I can´t show you but imagine an Arabic pattern of squares, triangles and octagons of some complexity. Then picture that as made from pieces of wood with inlays and the whole painted in rich tones. I reckon the three pics I took are among my best.
Lunch was a menu del dia for 8.50€ in an airconditioned room. They had to throw me out after 1.5 hours! For tea I had a 2.20€ hamburger from a small shop run by Argentinians. Tryng to keep the costs down.
At the station I bought the return ticket for tomorrow plus a ticket for Seville. I´ll get there early enough to look for a cheap place, and I think there are Information places which will help. They have an "i" on a green background rather than blue. I´ll have to leave Pension Castilla at 7.30am to be sure of making the 8.10 connecting bus.
First thing this morning was la ropa, getting the washing done. 12€!!!!! No wonder she only works 4 hours a day or less. I wanted to complain, but left it too late. The system is (as I now know) that you demand the complaint form from the business operator. Next time.
Something I have noticed is that some girls are wearing clothes based on the old Spanish layered style. Manfred, they are also walking with grace, so maybe all is not yet lost.
The traffic in Toledo is really bad. The old city streets are really narrow and despite some streets being one way, and others pedestrian only, cars take ages to reach their destinations. They are mostly filthy from construction dust and have sustained damage down the passenger side. If you watch carefully, you can see it happening! WHEE! Another scrape, and there a bingle! Yesterday I was standing by a wall when a guy drove up and crunched his fender into it on my left. Then for reasons known only unto himself, he backed out and parked audibly on my other side. I moved before he got his aim really true.
A canvas "roof" snakes its way through some of the wider streets, giving some shelter from the sun, but also the feel of something special. It starts in a large plaza and goes to the Teatro. I wonder what the shop operators feel when the "snake" avoids their street.
Last evening I spent 1.5 hours at a free concert of kids from a music school. Fulltime or part-time I know not.) They were aged from 9 to 19 and the standard varied a bit. The choir (I think it´s just kids who learn an instrument) were tuneful if wishy washy but they sang several quality pieces. Most of the string players played the top notes flat and bottom ones sharp. A 15 yo boy clarinetist was excellent, as was a 16yo girl pianist. Last was a brass group numbering 12. This was a senior group and the quality reflected it. The Dean of the school (I guess) was the conductor and was much better than competent. They started with Copeland´s Fanfare for the Common Man which was much played in a summer Olympics some years ago. That was intermission but I left for bed. The Teatro is in the European style of a small stalls with everyone else in horse-shaped tiers. Having now sat in the front row of one, I can tell you they aren´t much joy for most as it is almost impossible to have a full view of the stage unless you are front and centre. And then you have to lean forward.
Toledo, as I said yesterday, is built on a hill, but the hill is surrounded on 3 sides by a river. On the river-free side at one spot it is really steep so the city parents have installed a series of escalators under a concrete ramp that bends and twists its way up the hill. There are about 6 or 7 standard length escalator sections and it is open from about 8 am to 10 pm most days. Good thinking!
Early this arvo I went back to the room for a rest. Just before 2pm I came down stairs to find the two front doors locked. Madam security who insists on taking the keys from us and giving them back when we go out was not there. There was no response to the bell or a knock on any of the non-guest doors. After 10 mins or so she came in from shopping. What, I asked, was I expected to do in case of a fire? Oh, she breezily replied, it was only 5 minutes. Well, I could do a lot of choking, burning, and dying in 5 minutes. But of course, it hasn´t happened yet. Apart from that, I am very happy with the place which is well set up. I have not seen anyone else using my bathroom, either.
Next e-mail, Sevilla!
Stay well. (And if not, please get well, and stay that way!)

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