Grandpa’s Bridge Too Far

I think I might have mentioned that when we were in Toledo last month we walked many of the same paths as San Geraldo’s famous ancestors.

Had the weather been nicer (remember the rain every day except the last?), I would have done an ancestry tour. Fortunately, as we taxied back to the train station, we passed one of the bridges I hadn’t gotten a chance to see.

Known in Spanish as Puente de Alcántara, Alcántara Bridge spans the Targus River that rings the old city. It was built by the Romans between 104 and 106 AD by order of Emperor Trajan.

In 1085, San Geraldo’s 27-greats grandfather, Alfonso VI, crossed the bridge after taking Toledo, the first major city in the Christian Reconquista.

I’m glad San Geraldo is more enlightened — if no less regal — than many of his ancestors.

(Click the images. You know why.)

WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE IN 1899.
(CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO INFORMATION.)
117 YEARS LATER, ON A SIMILAR APPROACH TO THE PREVIOUS PHOTO.
THAT’S ALFONSO VI’S GRANDSON’S ARM HANGING OUT THE TAXI WINDOW.
CARS BEHIND US. NO CHANCE TO STOP.
CASTILLO SAN SERVANDO, TOP RIGHT. ORIGINALLY A MONASTERY BUILT
AROUND THE 7TH CENTURY. NOW A YOUTH HOSTEL. 
THE GATE (AT LEFT IN TOP PHOTO).
LEAVING THE CITY BY WAY OF A SLIGHTLY MORE MODERN BRIDGE.
NEXT TIME, I’LL GET SAN GERALDO TO REENACT GRANDPA’S ENTRY INTO THE CITY.
(JUST THE HORSEBACK RIDE… OK, AND THE CLOTHES. DEFINITELY THE CLOTHES.)

From Toledo to Corpus Christi

In the past few weeks we’ve gone from Toledo to Corpus Christi. And we haven’t left Spain.

Corpus Christi is a “feast” celebrating the belief in the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist (bread and wine). That’s all the religion you’ll get from me today.

I attended the festivities because Paula (Tynan and Elena’s adored 13-year-old daughter who is a gifted oboe player) was marching at noon in Benalmádena Pueblo. Benalmádena is the town just east of us. Benalmádena Pueblo is the old town and a white village similar to Mijas Pueblo (click here).

A tradition at Corpus Christ is to adorn procession routes with intricate flower mosaics. The art on Calle Real was lovingly created in the morning and happily trod upon a few hours later. Other streets were strewn with carnations and greenery, terraces were adorned with elegant shawls and tapestries, walls were lined with flowers and plants.

It was promoted as the festival of Corpus Christi only because they couldn’t publicly admit that all the festivities were in honor of our upcoming 5-year renewal (see yesterday’s post).

(Click the images to see how big Benalmádena Pueblo went in our honor.)

MY FIRST VIEW FROM THE TOP OF CALLE REAL.

WORKING MY WAY DOWN CALLE REAL.
CONTINUING ALONG THE WAY.
REACHING THE END
(AND ALL BEFORE THE MAJOR CROWSD ARRIVED).
CALLE ALAMOS DECORATED AND STREWN WITH CARNATIONS AND GREENERY.
PLAZA DE ESPAÑA.
CALLE ALAMOS FROM THE OTHER DIRECTION.
LOCAL PRIVATE DISPLAYS OUTSIDE HOMES.
(ABOVE, AND THE TWO THAT FOLLOW.)
A LOCAL BROTHERHOOD’S TRIBUTE
ON PLAZA ANDALUCÍA.
AFTER THE PARADE PASSES BY.
OUR FAVORITE PAULA!
MY FEET AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW…

Sorry for the poor sound quality.
This band is really good!

A final note (and smile) from Paula…

Toledo Trinkets And Tasty Treats

Although I have perhaps another 400 photos from Toledo, I’ve decided to save you the agony. You’ve seen enough here (for now at least). However, we did buy ourselves some trinkets at a very special shop owned by a very special couple. The shop is called Arte and it can be found on Calle Hombre de Palo, 19 (a short street behind the Cathedral).

Toledo is known for its Damasquinado or Damasquina (in English, Damascene). It’s the art of decorating steel with threads of gold and silver — and also known as Toledo Gold. Toledo is famous for this handicraft, which is used on everything from swords (Toledo steel), knives, scissors, and other sharp instruments I try to avoid; as well as for jewelry, platters, art, and much more.

Judy bought herself a watch with a beautifully intricate bracelet band, as well as a couple of pairs of exquisite scissors for sewing.

I bought myself a wrist band/bracelet (pulsera in Spanish) and a couple of pairs of earrings.

The earrings are for the two holes in my left ear that My Mother The Dowager Duchess forbade me to pierce in 1994 (when I was 40). Months later, the first time she saw me with my ear pierced, she complained that my earrings were too small!

Although what I chose for myself was not tourist-grade trash (thats not available at Arte) it was very simply done and inexpensive. San Geraldo and I first found Arte on our own. What drew us in was a window display of some beautifully done glass pieces containing Klimt images. We ended up buying a candle holder that stands about six inches (15 cm) tall.

KLIMT’S “THE WOMAN IN GOLD.”

Toledo is also known for its Marzipan (mazapan). I had never been much of a fan of marzipan, appreciating it only as art because I didn’t realize there was more to it than the fruit forms in fruit colors. Then I discovered Spanish mazapan! Below is the box I bought at a very special shop called Santa Tomé. Don’t expect to get a taste. They’re gone. San Geraldo didn’t even get a taste. I thought he didn’t like mazapan. I swear! I really thought he didn’t like it. Honest!

But I’m not as bad as Judyshannonstreetwhat. She bought a box of mazapan and said she was going to give it to Tynan and Elena (Note: Not share with, give to).

A few days later, Judy admitted the plan had changed since there wasn’t much left in the box.

The reason? “Well, I was worried it wouldn’t stay fresh after it was opened.”

THE BOX.
AFTER I REMOVED THE SEAL FROM OURS … MINE.
I THEN ALSO WORRIED IT WOULD LOSE ITS FRESHNESS.



Because I love Laura Nyro and because she says “marzipan” around 4 minutes and 12 seconds into this 5-minute and 7-second song…

Toledo: Of Course, We Had To Eat!

So, did you think I wasn’t going to tell you about the food?!?

We had a few disappointing restaurant experiences in Toledo. Our first night, we went to a restaurant recommended by our hotel. It was classy and expensive. The food was exceptional. Our waitress was pleasant enough. Everyone else was indifferent — to everyone — to the point of being rude. It was called Alfileritos 24 and we would never go back.

There were a couple of other disappointments before San Geraldo and I finally went to a place called Cafe Del Fin (click here for their website). It had looked interesting as we passed by one day. It was closed that night when we went back in a downpour. So, our last night we tried again and we were in luck.

The food was excellent. The prices were surprisingly reasonable (Toledo’s prices are much higher than Fuengirola’s). And the service from the two servers/bartenders was beyond compare. Warm, friendly, charming, professional. A cool crowd, too. Too bad Judyshannonstreetwhat was under the weather and didn’t get to experience this meal.

(Click the images to enlarge the deliciousness.)

CHICKEN FAJITAS WITH PEPPERS AND SAUCE.
SAN GERALDO HAS HUGE HANDS.
THIS GIN & TONIC WAS THE SIZE OF A GOLDFISH BOWL.
FORTUNATELY, IT TASTED MUCH BETTER. SO I HAD ONE, TOO.
CHICKEN SKEWERS.
HAMBERGUESITAS: BEEF (GREEN BUN) AND CHICKEN.
A TOSTA: MIXED MUSHROOMS, GOAT CHEESE, AND HONEY.
MID-MEAL, OUR LADY OF FÁTIMA PROCESSED DOWN THE STREET
AND PASSED RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE RESTAURANT.
NO ONE IN THE RESTAURANT KNEW WHY…
SAN GERALDO’S “DEATH BY CHOCOLATE.”
HE COULDN’T FINISH IT!
MY “CHOCOLATE BROWNIE WITH VANILLA ICE CREAM
AND HARD CHOCOLATE TOPPING.”
OUR COFFEES WERE SERVED WITH LOVE.
MY ‘LOVE’ LASTED TO THE VERY END.
A PARTING SHOT.

Churchagogues?

SAMUEL HA-LEVI ABULAFIA.
OUR HOTEL IN BACKGROUND.

Toledo has two fascinating examples of ancient synagogues. Of course, both were converted to churches centuries ago but, unlike so many of these buildings in Spain, the two in Toledo are no longer used as houses of worship and are instead museums dedicated to their Jewish history.

And, once again, I DO go on. Skip the history if you have no interest and just look at the pictures. But don’t miss the closing paragraph after all the photos.

Click to fargresern the images… that’s enlarge in Yiddish… Or at least I think it is… I had to look it up. At least I know it’s not farkrimen, which is distortOh, just go ahead and click already. What do you need, an engraved invitation?

El Transito
The first, Sinagoga del Tránsito, was founded in 1356 by Samuel ha-Levi Abulafia, Treasurer to King Peter of Castile — until the king had him executed in 1460.

After all Jews were finally expelled from Spain in 1492, El Tránsito was converted to a church, Nuestra Señora Del Transito.

It was a military headquarters during the Napoleonic Wars, became a national monument in 1877, and was transformed into the Sephardic Museum beginning in 1910.

Santa María La Blanca
Built sometime around the year 1200 and originally called Ibn Shushan Synagogue or The Congregational Synagogue of Toledo, this is considered (with some dispute) the oldest synagogue building (still standing) in Europe. It became a church in the very early 1400s and is still owned and now preserved by the Catholic Church as a museum.

El Transito/Sephardic Museum

ORIGINAL SECTION OF FLOORING.

Santa Maria La Blanca

The traditional Yiddish (German-origin) word for synagogue or temple is ‘shul.’ 
My Jewish grandmother, a polite woman, did not use the word shul when speaking with gentiles who might not understand (oddly, she included me in this group). Instead, she would use the word synagogue. 
Unfortunately, she pronounced it “sindergarden,” so she really wasn’t much help.