Toledo is a midieval town with great walls protecting the patchwork buildings with tile roofs and a river surrounding the walls. I expected the knights in shining armor at any turn. The cobblestone streets are a maze of hilly and narrow roads that barely fit the tiny cars but mostly allow for pedestrian traffic.
Some of the local workers were demostrating as they were in Madrid as well. The state of the economy was palpable in the number of remaining “Madrileños” not on coastal holiday. Local TV promoted the fun things to do in the many parks where people were enjoying the sun and the hopes for a bit of cooler weather near the water.
Back in Madrid I hit the road, caught the bus and walked over to the Prado to see the works of Raphael, Velasquez, da Vinci, Rubens , and others before they closed the free evening at the museum. Took the long way back to the hotel and walked recognizing the sights from the night before: Plaza Mayor, la Puerta del Sol, La Gran Via, La Fuente de la Cibeles, Fuente de Neptuno, Puerta de Alcala…
Off to Merida via Trujillo. It was so hot at the Roman theater and amphitheater but quite impressive to see the columns and statues still guarding the stage of the theater before their big annual production.
In Seville I even had time to do some shopping at El Corte Ingles, walked the wide wide sidewalks with painted bikeways, and jumped in the pool to cool off. Sidewalk cafes continue on the list of favorites. And let me tell you that for Spaniards, evening life begins at 10pm.
A ride down the Guadalquivir River and some modern bridge designs surrounded the Torre del Oro, Parque Maria Luisa, la Maestranza and tree-lined avenues.
Cordoba and Granada with their mosques-turned-cathedrals were places I wanted to see since design school. These are unique examples of preserved architecture from the 8th century and beyond. Conquering Spaniards preserved the amazing structures and added expansions and modifications to accommodate the Christian faith.
The evenings included a typical tablao Flamenco and an impromptu performance in the Albaicin neighborhood with more maze-like streets and alleys with a sneak peak at the night view of the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens which showed their immense beauty the next day.
Here is where I escaped for a bit more than an hour to catch the Joaquin Sorolla exhibit, Jardines de Luz, at the Palace of Carlos V. I was quite moved to admire his paintings and awed to see his influence in my work, passed down over the instruction I have had by William Kalwick Jr. I must say that recognizing this influence was the most touching part of my trip, especially since Kalwick never forces any style on his students and allows for their individual signature to come through. Now, with great appreciation to Kalwick, I only hope to continue to advance and come closer to Sorolla’s mastery of light and shadow.
The trip back offers rolling hills of olive trees and windmills, of the Quijote-style type though enough wind farms and solar panels abound everywhere I went.
Back in Madrid, I wind down with a stroll to the little market down the way for a quiet evening meal of local tomatoes the size and color of plumbs and a crispy baguette. A relaxing goodbye before the great trip back to Houston after a wonderful though intense and lighting fast tour through Greece, Italy, France and Spain.