Thursday, August 21, 2014

Toledo August

Toledo, Spain August 14th

Holy Toledo!! After a 3 1/2 hour drive we  arrived in the early afternoon in Toledo, tired, hungry, and antsy from the long drive.  We headed out to get food at the hardest time to find food at about 3pm. Siesta is a very real thing in Spain. Stores and resturants lock up during the hot hours of the day to take an afternoon nap. We left our hotel and started climbing the hills of Teledo. Toledo is a well preserved medevial city located on the top of a hill. We finally found an open cafe, thankfully since we were on the brink of collapse! 

Toledo is known to have the strongest steel in the world and in the medevial times knights would come to Toledo to have their swords and amour made. There is one sword shop there that fashions swords like the swords described in the Book of Mormon. Most famous are the Sword of Laben and Captain Moroni's sword. My brother, Willie, served his 2 year church mission and ever since has wanted one of these famous swords. After some convincing from Willie, my dad bought a Sword of Laban to display in our house. Kellen and I thought it was more practical to buy a Chef's knife instead of an 8 foot gold plated sword!! 
We then went and saw the Toledo cathedral which is tucked between narrow streets. Mass was being held and the sound of the organ floated out of the doors and into the narrow streets!
Maddie is directly in front of the bell tower of the cathedral! As we wondered through the shops a parade headed down the Main Street to Zocozander Plaza, with music and huge figures of saints marching through the streets. Later we realized the parade was for the religious holiday, Assencion Day, which was the next day!
Very worn our we headed back over the hills to El Grecco Hotel to go to sleep!

August 15th: El Grecco Museum and on to Madrid

Our hotel was next to the El Greeco Museum. El Greeco is a famous painter, born in Crete, studied in Rome than came to Toledo to work. He was not very well respected during his time because he had a very different style then other painters at the time. He was not a realist and used bright colors. Years after his death people realized what an incredible artist he was and his pieces because very famous. His house in Toldeo was restored and is now a museum holding many of his greatest works. My favorite are the series of the apostles and Jesus Christ. 
We has a nice lunch in the Jewish Quater of Toledo then headed on to Madrid!!

Granada, Spain August 13th-14th

Granada, Spain

Day 1: Leaving the quaint beach town of Nerja was hard because of the two awesome sun filled beach days we spent there, but it was time to explore another Spainish city-Granada!

After only an hour in the car we arrived and got checked in to our apartment. Granada is famous for the Alahambra, the largest and most elaborate Moorish palace. Our afternoon activity was to explore the vast palace complex which consists of Moorish palace buildings and perfectly manicured gardens. The Alahambra was once the home to the Sultan and over 1,000 Islamic people. 
The Royal Palace area was my favorite. It is large rooms witc walls covered in colored plaster, fountains every room, and brightly colored stained glass. 
After the Alahambra we went to a Morocan resturant in the Albeyzin neighborhood. This is the old Moorish/Morocan neighbor that has a lot of character. The resturant was dimly lit with brightly colored hanging lamps, had low tables with random stools and benches to sit on and had amazing food. Some of the dishes we got were hummus, gazpacho (a cold tomato Spanish soup), couscous, chicken curry and baklava for dessert. A three course dinner for €9 and aside from being a great cultural experience the food was delicious!
After dinner on our stroll home we explored the many tourists shops selling, hanging lamps, any kind of leather product you could dream of, an assortment if close that could have been used in the movie Aladin, and much more!

Nerja August 10th-12th

Day1: Drive to Nerja and Paella. 

Kellen and I got up early and took a jog to the train station to pick up our rental car. We then went to the airport to pick up everyone else's luggage which was lost during traveling and came in the nick of time before we headed out on our road trip.
We had a car loaded with stuff and headed 2 hours to Nerja, a beach town in the south of Spain. Were we starving when we arrived and went to a famous Paella place, Ayo for dinner. Paella is a rice mixture with lots of seafood grilled in huge frying pans. For 6.5€ you get all you can eat Paella!!
While at lunch we had Maddie try her first lemon. I was all ready with the video camera to catch a sour face but instead she smiled and just kept in eating it. Crazy baby!
By this time it was about 5pm, my favorite time to hit the beach. 
The water was quite a bit colder than Greece and there were bigger waves so Maddie was not a fan of the water. While Maddie took a beach nap we played volleyball against 3 guys from Syria and beat them 2 games to 1!! We stayed at the beach until past 9pm and then wandered through the crowded streets home.

Day 2: Yes, Another Beach Day!

Well the title pretty much sums up what we did today. Lots of sun, swimming, burgers for lunch, volleyball, then pizza and pasta for dinner. One great moment is when Papa Stu gave Maddie a sip of his Coke Light. She absolutly loved it and when she saw another can later crawled as fast as she could towards it. Addicted at a young age!
How to get your stroller across the sand without getting stuck: roll it backwards!
The beach setup for the day!
After dinner we walked around the town and stopped at the Balcony of Eurpoe. I huge area that looks out over the ocean and was the inspiration for the layout of the game Trivial pursuit. Which was invented by a Spainard!