We met a beautiful, young couple in Tanzania. She was from Spain, he was from South Africa, they were living and working in Oman, and on safari for their honeymoon. Scott and I were watching the sunset over a coffee plantation, talking about possibly visiting Spain on our next trip, when like a sign we heard the newlyweds discussing their wedding and how their parents were probably still partying in Spain three days after the wedding. We started chatting with them and Paloma wrote a list of places that might be a good fit for us in Spain. We took her list home, did a little research, emailed her a few times and decided on Toledo as our first stop, mainly because she thought it was a great place. And it was. We spent two and a half weeks racing around Italy and so Toledo would be a place to rest and catch up on schoolwork if the kids were behind. We also liked the looks of the narrow streets and pedestrian zones because one of the harder aspects of this year, as we are learning, is giving the kids the freedom that they crave without being irresponsible and doing something stressful like losing one of them (A Pop Quiz, German Police and Kind Village People).
I had to laugh at this sign. Our apartment in Sorrento, Italy, was across the street from a hospital and on the day we flew to Spain I noticed it (right out in front of the hospital) while we waited for our ride to the airport in Naples. We were ready for some tranquility and personal space as we left Italy for Spain.
Our first morning in Toledo was celebrated on our terrace with the beautiful and popular Toledo Cathedral in the background and Scott’s breakfast potatoes which are continuing to evolve. We used the Cathedral as our beacon in a city of narrow, twisting, mazelike alleys. It was easy to be lost and still know that you were very near your destination. I was consistently lost during our two weeks there and I didn’t sleep well in our apartment. One night I even had a dream that I was lost in a maze in my mind! Analyze that…
Our apartment was on the fifth floor and this was the view up the street from our terrace.
The view down the street towards Toledo Cathedral. All day long we would hear a man yelling something and over time Grant was able to make out what he was saying. “Lotteria! Para Navidad…cuanto quiere?!” All day long the man would walk up and down the street trying to sell lottery tickets. One night we ran down to buy a ticket thinking it would be a fun little souvenir. We were surprised to learn that the tickets were 23 Euros each so we took our money and invested in gelato instead!
Scott cooked a lot. This was my beautiful birthday breakfast.
He surprised me with my very own Moka Pot, an Italian coffee pot. He even promised to carry it for me in his luggage!
Groceries in Toledo were incredibly inexpensive, so much so that you thought the checker might have forgotten to ring up a few items. There was also a small veggie market so Scott tortured the kids with a lot of salad in Toledo. Oh yes, laundry gets hung out in Spain too!
Ham is a big deal in Spain and it’s almost enough to turn me into a vegetarian. This scene is everywhere you look. I really want a ham tour guide to introduce me to this aspect of Spain so I don’t feel so overwhelmed and intimidated. Subconsciously, I must feel a little threatened even with my middle name being Pigalett! We did try a few local dishes like Carcamusa, a pork and pea stew in a tomato base, venison stew and partridge.
The kids loved our apartment and they loved the freedom of Toledo. We felt comfortable letting them wander alone and explore. They did a good job getting ahead with their school work. Ironically, Spanish is Grant’s most challenging subject. Scott and Grant are wrestling with the weekly Spanish lesson here.
I made chocolate chip cookies twice in our little apartment. I never found vanilla or brown sugar but I cut up a chocolate bar for chocolate chips and used vanilla flavored sugar for vanilla. They tasted really good and were fun to make.
Ashley discovered the “American Store” which was full of food from home and sharply contrasting prices from our little grocery store near the apartment. She splurged and bought chocolate chips for my birthday cookies (the second time I made cookies)and syrup for French toast.
Ashley even decorated the apartment for my birthday.
We didn’t DO a lot in Toledo and I struggled with that on at least an every other daily basis. I had a lot of pep talks with myself. I heard a sermon once about how difficult it is to be a “human being” and not a “human doing.” This year of travel for me is about more being and less doing and it is hard. I chanted to myself “there is value in these days” in Toledo as I felt anxiety in not accomplishing things. The kids were so happy, they were exploring independently, they were cruising through lessons (with the exception of Spanish for Scott and Grant), Grant and Scott wrote and programmed a computer game and taught Ashley how to do some computer modeling so she could help, we watched movies and wandered and had time to ourselves. There was no hardcore hiking, no blood pressure raising adventure, and there was just a little bit of culture and tourism and maybe I was just feeling guilty since I read two books and binge watched “Frankie and Grace,” while all things “Trip Advisor” were getting ignored. It’s something for me to think about though, the value in being present and content with just hanging out in Toledo.