I do enjoy my side trips! From Madrid, I took a half hour train one day and arrived in Toledo.
It quickly became apparent that I was in for a day of walking uphill.
The reward for walking uphill though is a great view.
My day of backpacking started from the hill opposite the main bridge.
I started with the less obvious direction because I wasn’t sure if I’d have the motivation on the way back. Having done some preliminary exploring, I went back to the bridge.
On the left the river curved around the historic part of Toledo,
while the right looked out onto more of the city and an old water wheel.
And then the stairs began.
What seemed like years later, I arrived in the historic centre of the town.
Toledo is known for two things in particular, the first being its steel. Toledo steel long competed with Damascus steel in terms of quality, resulting in every tourist store doubling as an arsenal.
With the abundance of weapons, the second attribute is kind of funny. Toledo is known for the long-standing peaceful coexistence of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths.
It had many beautiful churches,
a synagogue I couldn’t find, and a mosque.
I pretty much just walked around taking pictures.
The stairs were nicer on the way back.
Finally returning to the train station. Toledo was beautiful.
My second side trip was from Barcelona to the city of Zaragoza where I met up with my friend Cristina. Cristina is from Turin, Italy, where I had originally planned to see her before she took a research position in Zaragoza. We met at Waterloo in a Calculus of Variations course.
She picked me up from the train station and we went exploring!
We first found a castle,
then some Roman ruins,
then a church with its own leaning tower.
The most surprising thing though, was the Basílica dear Nuestra Señora del Pilar. I really wasn’t expecting something this magnificent.
At the other end of this church there was another one called Catedral del Salvador dear Zaragoza.
It had an amazing altar piece.
Cristina and I spent the day wandering Zaragoza, happy to catch up and explore.
We ended up back in the plaza in the late afternoon and talked about Canada, Italy, languages and university. I’m so glad I was able to see her again!
That’s it for Toledo and Zaragoza. I had more pictures than words for these two cities, but I’m glad I got to see more of Spain than just the capital and Barcelona.