As a true Sagittarian, I was always consumed by wanderlust and dreamt of seeing places like the character in “Eat, Pray, and Love”. And then boom!!!!! I got a chance to wade into the panoramic splendor of Spain even though it was a short three-day trip.
The Journey Begins
We boarded Emirates Airways and arrived in Dubai in the evening. After an exhausting journey, we reached Madrid Barajas Airport by night-time and checked into a hotel in the heart of Madrid’s commercial hub.
The excitement was building inside me and hence got over the jetlag pretty easily. Our first trip was to the picturesque walled city of Toledo, which was one hour from Madrid. The landscape was stunning and seemed like a scene straight from an animation movie. The location was picture perfect with castles; forts surrounded by the Tagus River and were a feast to the eyes.
Long back, Toledo was the capital of Spain and now the medieval city is preserved by the Spanish government. Toledo is aptly called the “City of Three cultures” because of its rich Christian, Jewish and Moorish heritage. The place was indeed breathtaking and resembled a Renaissance painting that made me feel like a puny mortal. The first stop of the day was at a museum nearby time. We spend some time there gazing at the medieval swords, armors, fans, and toys draped in Spanish apparel on display. The walking tour through the winding streets of Toledo was altogether a unique experience. And the walk served to soak in the culture and inhale the sights and sounds of Spain.
On the way, we stopped at the ‘Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo’. The architecture of the church was influenced by the French gothic style. The original stained glass windows added an aura to the interiors. The burial places of cardinals are marked by their hats that are suspended from the ceiling and left hanging until they fall apart.
Lunches are usually three-course meals and food tends to be Mediterranean based. Menus are displayed on blackboards outside restaurants highlighting the dish of the day. We saw many such boards on the way. In Spanish cuisine, ham occupies an important place and is a national obsession. On the way, we saw pig leg ( Jamon in Spanish) hanging on many shop windows.
Toledo is known for its tradition of making swords, knives, and armor. Wandering through the winding streets, saw countless shops selling decorative swords, shields, etc, and came across a shop window displaying doll nuns making bread and sweets. It was a “marzipan shop”(marzipan is a sweet paste made with almonds and honey), attached to the convent, where delicacies prepared by nuns are sold to the public. After the lavish, elaborate lunch, we bid adieu to the magical land of Toledo.
The evening was dedicated to some street shopping and Flamenco dance. Flamenco dance is similar to tap dance and the dancers blew us away with their incredible footwork.
MADRID CITY TOUR
Madrid is a green city with a lot of trees. On Sunday morning, after a hearty Spanish breakfast consisting of Spanish tortillas and muffins, we set off for the city tour.
We stopped for a couple of minutes before the famous “Santiago Bernabeu Football Stadium for taking snaps. It is one of the world’s most prestigious football venues and is owned by Real Madrid Club. On the way, we saw the heraldic symbol of Madrid: a 20-ton statue of ‘the bear and madrona tree’
‘Plaza de Toros’ was our next stop which is considered to be the cathedral of bullfighting, huge enough to occupy 24,000 spectators.
We also visited the monument in honor of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of the world-famous classic ‘DON QUIXOTE’. The monument consists of the stone sculpture of Cervantes, overlooking the sculptures of his characters Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
Madrid is an amazing city and offers a sharp contrast to the colourful, noisy, crowded streets of India. Everything moves at a slow pace and the city comes to life only during the night.We checked out of the hotel in the morning and bid adieu to Madrid and landed at Delhi airport .Spain is a traveler's delight and the wanderlust flowing through me was quenched for the time being.