Toledo to Merida

Saturday, October 17

We are on our way to Toledo this morning, and then on to Merida where we have our next apartment.  Yesterday we stayed home for a bit of rest and to pack and get ready for today.  This view is from the cafeteria on the top floor of the public library in Toledo.imageWe literally travelled in circles looking for a library of ancient manuscripts and books. The Information center sent us to the library, but it was the public library and they told us that what we wanted was likely closed but that we could go see, so we went there, but where they sent us wasn’t the right place.  A second information lady gave us different information. We found out it was in the Alcázar museum, so we went there, only they told us we needed to go back to the library and that the collection was a special room there.  The same library that sent us elsewhere!  Only problem was that it closed at 2:00 and it is now ten to two!  We give up, deciding that we just weren’t meant to see these manuscripts.  Too bad, I would really have enjoyed the chance to at least have a look at them. One of the stops on our way to find the elusive manuscripts overlooks a winding road and the hills on the edge of town.imageWe did find this statue of Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote’s La Mancha.imageThe streets are very narrow and Toledo is a very hilly town.  We seem to be either climbing up or down steps and streets. Once again, we are out and about when a lot of the shops and businesses are closed. This 2:00 to 5:00 lunch hour just doesn’t work for us.  We are usually home by 8:00, and it seems everyone else is just starting to think about their evening’s meal and entertainment.imageWe take a tea break and have this great view of the Toledo Cathedral, but neither of us really feel like going inside, instead we sit in the sun and watch the people in the square.  Great people watching!image

There are lots of knives and swords for sale here, apparently they are made locally. I have a friend who makes beautiful knives and thought he might like seeing these.image imageThere is lots more to see in Toledo but we are tired and need to get on the road to Merida to meet our next host at 8:00.  We drive in pouring rain for the last couple of hours and it continues to come down in buckets when we arrive in Merida, but we meet Ana, our host, and we love our new apartment.image

We have been very pleased with all of our Airbnb apartments so far.  Let’s hope our luck lasts.  I love seeing all the apartments and it is so nice having a kitchen.  We are making most of our meals as that works so much better with my dietary restrictions.imageimage

The Prado

Thursday October 15

This Mad Hatter was outside the Prado with his little white mouse.  They both looked very content and pleased with themselves!imageThe Prado has 102 rooms and we managed to visit all but 17 of them.  We spent about six hours exploring and soaking up the incredible art work but we simply ran out of time and energy.  There are no photos in the Museum but I did take these two.  I know, I am a bad girl! We saw many paintings that were familiar because of reading my art books.  It was wonderful seeing these works in person.  This is a very famous Goya work titled “The Family of Charles IV.”  I just wanted one photo to say “Yes, I was there.”  When I am home I will find a good book on the Prado as a reminder of everything we have seen today. Books are just too heavy to lug around in our suitcases!imageThe Museum encourages artists to study and paint in the Museum, as this young lady was doing.  We saw several artists at work today.  image  Pictures were allowed in the Leoni Cloister and when we looked up we could see that there were workrooms above the cloister.  I would love to be able to tour these rooms, but had to settle for zooming in for a closer look.imageimageWe headed back to our Airbnb for some much needed rest.  I love touring Museums and Art Galleries but it is quite exhausting, physically and mentally.imageThis has been home for the last ten nights but we leave the day after tomorrow.  We only planned on staying here for four nights but liked it so much, and Bob really liked taking the bus into Madrid instead of driving, so we changed our reservation to twelve nights.  image

Madrid, Bibliotec National, and Museo Arqueológico Nacional

Thursday October 8

We have a quiet day at home, but we end up spending quite a bit of the day looking for accommodations in Madrid, but we aren’t having much luck.  Madrid seems to be quite expensive, not many places have parking and we aren’t getting answers back from some of the places we contacted.  We decide that we will stay where we are and take the bus into Madrid.  It is a 40 minute ride and Bob is looking forward to not driving for a while.

Friday , October 9

We take the bus into Madrid which works very well.  It is every comfortable, kind of like a Greyhound Bus, and it is very relaxing for both of us.  First stop in Madrid is the Canadian Embassy as we were told we could vote there for the upcoming Canadian election.  Turns out we can’t, as the ballot has to be mailed in and the package was sent to our home address.  The very tall first building is where the Canadian Embassy is located on the very secure 21 floor.  Lots of security in this tower.
imageBack on the Metro to find the Archeological Museum.  I love the metro!  It is fast, easy and offers great people watching.  On our way to the museum we see the Bibliotheca National and I can’t bypass a library so we go check it out, but not before stopping to say hello to this cute fellow.image

The building is very big and beautiful, but we discover it isn’t a public library, entrance is only available if you take a tour, which are all sold out for today. We are allowed to go in and check out a Rudyard Kipling exhibit in a room near the entrance after showing our passports, getting our pictures taken, putting our bags through an X ray machine, and getting a visitors pass!      imageThere was only a collection of Kipling’s books in the exhibit, not too interesting, but the room attached to it had some great old books and manuscripts…imageimage

……including what I think must be a facsimile of a Leonardo Da Vinci sketchbook.  Hard to make out as all the labels are in Spanish.  The staff also tell us about an exhibit downstairs that we can visit.  Turns out it is “Caligrafía Española” el arte describir.  Of course we have to see this.  The first thing we see on entering is this wonderful collection of calligraphy equipment from the 1700’s and 1800’s. Most of these are the same tools used by calligraphers today.image  There are many books and font samplers and these two beautiful examples of flourishes.image image

Finally we arrive at the MAN, the Museo Arqueológico National.  Turns out it is a great museum, and we get to see a facsimile of Lucy.  I remember talking about australopithicus and Lucy when I taught Social Studies many years ago.  Isn’t she beautiful?image

There is a display with examples of archeological sites in Spain, and it turns out they are everywhere.  This Screen grab says it best “Spain, A Huge Archeological Site.”  I think you could look almost anywhere in Spain and find an archaeological site!imageIn the museum there are some very intricate mosaics.image They are even more incredible when you see the size of the individual mosaic pieces.imageThe next exhibit has several room sized floor mosaics that are equally as stunning.image

I love old doors and this one is a beauty.  It just looks as though I am touching it….image

We are amazed at the technology that was in use so long ago, but the one item that probably surprised me the most was the Speculum magnum matrios, a vaginal dilator used  in gynaelogical exams, surgeries and childbirth.  The Romans developed this medical technology in the First Century AD! It is hard to imagine, and this looks very similar to the ones in use today!image

We stop for tea after two hours, and then do our best to see everything else but we ran out of energy and time and I am afraid we rather quickly strolled through the Egyptian and Greek rooms without trying to see and read about everything. There are about fourty rooms here, and they are all pcked with so much to see. We are pooped, but we enjoyed this museum a lot.  It was extremely well laid out, had lots of great videos, English signage and beautiful exhibits.  It always amazes me that so many items have survived so many centuries intact. I also did a few drawings at the museum.imageimage