Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 7 | Barcelona - Toledo September 1

It was our last day in Barcelona.  We loved it here, but were looking forward to exploring more of Spain.  However, we still had most of the day to check out other places in the area.  We woke up and packed our bags, checked out of our hotel, and had them hold our luggage.  It was nice to be able to do that so we didn't have to go to the train station.

We grabbed breakfast, believe it or not- not at Starbucks.  Turned out to be a big fat disappointment, so that is what we get for straying from what works.  Then we headed off to the Barri Gothic neighborhood to rent bikes!  We were excited for today because we wanted to explore Barcelona's large park, Ciutadella, and go down to the seafront.  We thought bikes would be a great way to do that, and we found a company that rented them for great prices.

Once we were outfitted with our bikes, we were on our way.  These bikes were awesome.  We weren't sure what it was about them, but they rode great.  They had nothing fancy, but were effortless.  They also had built in locks, so it made it easy to stop and explore on foot.

We didn't bring all of our camera gear on this outing, just my small pocket canon- so our photos won't be nearly as interesting, nor as plentiful.  First we rode around and under the Arc de Triomf.

Arc de Triomf
our cool orange bikes

We then cruised over to the big fountain.  This was cool.  It was huge, and had ornate details.  Plus, many of the sculptures were covered in gold.

Then Ryan found an elephant type thing, and needed to stop to take his picture.

Then, we rode by parliament.  I dropped my sunglasses here, and they got all scratched up, so good thing I bought cheap-o glasses at Target.

Ryan had wanted to go to the zoo, which is in the park, but we decided we've seen lions and tigers and bears before, so a photo would suffice.

Then we circled around to another museum, and an outdoor atrium.

Then we took the show on the road.  We rode our bikes on the street- which was fun.  Barcelona had great bike lanes.  We headed down to the beach.

weird building


Once we got to the beach, we parked our bikes, and went to get food.  We had walked by a local fast food joint, Pans and Co. a few times, and decided to give it a try.  I ordered a tuna sandwich, and Ryan ordered a chicken one.  The fries came with a little fork to eat with, which came in handy for dipping in ketchup.

After lunch, we biked along the beach.  The beach had great facilities- bathrooms and lounge chairs- everything was so clean and nice.

After we went the length of the beach, we flipped around, and headed back. We had to ride through the downtown area for a bit- and it was quite intense.  A bit too crowded.  However, we quickly were back to the bike shop, returned our bikes, and were on our way.

We had a little bit of time to kill before we had to get on the train, so we went to Starbucks, since we didn't make it that morning.  After drinking our espresso's we headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags.  To get to the train station, we took the metro.  We had an entrance right down the street from our hotel.

We were a bit early to the train station, but our train was already there, so we were able to board.  It certainly made the trip less stressful by having ample time to get in and seated.  The train wasn't full at all. But it was so nice.  Much nicer than any train we went on in Italy.

The train ride was only about 3 hours.  It was fun to see the terrain change, but I did doze off for a large part of the ride.  Woke up mid-way through to an Ikea flying by (!).  We also drove in and out of rain and thunderstorms.  The train speeds gets up to around 300.  They had a screen on the train that showed the speed.

Once we arrived in Madrid, we had to switch trains to get to Toledo.  We had a bit of ticket confusion, but were able to find out everything by asking someone.  Ryan went into the store to buy us Coca-Cola light and pringles.  Our staple in Spain. The train for toledo was on time, we got on, and within 30 minutes, were in Toledo.

Toledo was the capital of Spain, and has been home to Romans, Jews, Moorish and Christian people.  It is chock-full of religious history and turmoil.  It is also on a hill, and surrounded by water on three sides.  Since everything is uphill, we hailed a cab to take us to our hotel.  We got in pretty late, and it was raining, so it was very dark out.  It was hard to pay attention to where we were going.  The cab ride was scary, because the street (I think they were more like sidewalks) were so narrow, and windy.  It looked like if you were an inch over on one side, you would smash the side of the car.

The cab ride was only a few minutes, and then we had arrived at our hotel, Santa Isabel.  We went to check in, and found out the rest of the family was staying here too.  Since we hadn't planned on any group activities in Toledo, we hadn't really asked about where they were staying and what they were doing here.  But when we checked in, the man at the desk said, hmm- Mordoff is a popular name, no?  We were sort of confused- because we all know that Mordoff is the weirdest name on the planet, and then he went on to explain that 2 other Mordoff's had checked in earlier that day.  We thought it was funny that we all picked the same hotel, never having talked about it.  We were excited that we may run into them while in Toledo.

We went up to our room, then changed into clothes that could get soaked, since it was storming outside.

view from our room

We had read that Plaza Zocodover was the place to be at night, so our mission was to get over there to find a place to eat.  But- that turned out to be impossible.  With the rain, darkness, and crazy streets, there was no way we were getting over there.  We were so lost, and had no clue where we were going.  We finally stumbled upon a bar, and we thought we could get some tapas.  When we went in there, they said they had food downstairs, but I wouldn't be able to go down there.  We think it was some sort of nudey bar.  So we were out of there.

After a few more turns we found a vegetarian restaurant.  This was perfect, because we knew we could order anything without having to worry what we were eating.  The food turned out to be really yummy.  I ordered gazpacho and lasagna.

After a yummy meal, we tried our best to get back home.  After a few wrong turns, we arrived at the hotel, fell into bed, and hoped and prayed the rain would be gone by the morning!

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