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Exploring Abroad: Traveling to Antiquity ~ Toledo and Segovia, Spain

Edd:  The excursion we took from Madrid to Toledo and Segovia was fantastic, and I can’t wait to tell our readers all about it. But I realized we ended our last blog without answering the big question about Madrid—could we live there? So let’s quickly cover that.

Cynthia:  That will be easy because the answer is “No.” We very much enjoyed visiting but found that Madrid is too large and too busy for us. Plus the temperatures in summer can hit triple digits. Yikes!

E:  We’d perhaps be open to a smaller city in Spain with a more temperate climate. The cost of living is certainly affordable, and we loved the food and wine. 😋

C:  Let’s talk about our day trip. Toledo is an ancient city dating back over 2000 years that has preserved its medieval layout. Walking around there was like stepping back in time.

E:  Until we saw a Starbucks. Toledo has two nicknames: the Imperial City because Charles V had his court there, and the “city of three cultures” for the peaceful coexistence of Christians, Jews, and Muslims that lasted for centuries.

C:  The Spanish Inquisition put an end to that when Ferdinand and Isabella decided you were either Catholic or…

E:  Millions of Jews and Muslims were either converted or killed if they weren’t able to leave the country. Such atrocity for hundreds of years to establish religious unity is unthinkable.

C:  Well, enough about all that. The renowned painter El Greco lived in Toledo for some time, and we got to see his most famous work, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, that hangs in the Church of Santo Tomé.

E:  Speaking of churches, the Toledo Cathedral is considered one of the greatest examples of Gothic architecture in Spain.

C:  The vistas from Toledo were stunning. We spotted the Castle of San Servando, a monastery over 1000 years old that was later occupied by the infamous Knights Templar.

E:  It’s mind blowing to talk about structures that old when our entire country has only been around for about 250 years. I really enjoyed looking out over the rooftops and seeing the Tagus River meandering by.

C:  We could have spent a lot more time exploring Toledo but had to move on to Segovia. A side benefit of our day trip was getting to see a bit of the Spanish countryside.

E:  Segovia’s a place we’d heard of but knew nothing about until I did some research looking for cool places to visit. I found out, yeah, it’s a beautiful old city with a big castle and, of course, there’s a huge cathedral. But when I saw this one thing I told you, “We’ve GOTTA go there!”

C:  As I look at these photos, I realize there’s no way to capture the scale of this aqueduct. Comparing the size of the peeps in the pictures helps somewhat. We just stood there staring at it in disbelief.

E:  Roman engineering was so precise that amazingly there’s no mortar. The massive stones, which weigh up to two tons, are simply stacked on top of each other. Unbelievable!

C:  And all that effort just to bring in fresh water from the mountains. The Romans understood that contaminated water caused sickness and death, so they obviously went to extreme measures to keep their citizens—and laborers—healthy.

E:  Nothing was going to compare to that colossal aqueduct, but I have to say Segovia is pretty darned impressive on its own. The attractive Moorish motif throughout the city was a pleasant surprise.

C:  As in Toledo, different cultures lived together in Segovia. The style and design of this ancient city reflects the influence of each one. I found that aspect particularly interesting, and thought it was a beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage site.

E:  Segovia’s main cathedral was majestic, especially if you’re a fan of over-the-top Gothic architecture. Check out those spires. They look like part of a sand castle you made at the beach as a kid!

C:  And then the day's grand finale. Overlooking a valley at the edge of Segovia is the Alcázar, a medieval castle favored by Spanish royalty for centuries and the site of Queen Isabella’s coronation.

E:  During a private tour of the interior we learned that Alcázar is one of the most distinctive in Spain because of its unique shape suggesting the bow of a ship.

C:  After a long, memorable day, it was time to board the bus and head back to Madrid. Hope you enjoyed coming along with us.

E:  Next stop is a city we weren’t supposed to visit—Bordeaux, France. We’ll tell you all about it soon.


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