Monday, March 14, 2011

Side Trip To Toledo On The Way to The US Embassy / Scientific Police Station Appointments in Madrid

I had been to Toledo when I was here nearly 10 years ago, and I remember it being steep, and having a lot of stores that sold knives. Well it was still really steep, and there were still a lot of stores that sold knives, but this time I think I will remember a few more things. The city is extremely old and has a medieval feel to it with castles, palaces and cobble stone roads. Somehow they manage to get city buses up and down these really steep cobble stone roads, it sure makes for a bumpy ride.

Anyway, I just spent the day walking around the center of the city taking pictures of the old churches, cathedrals and synagogues. There are only a few synagogues left in all of Spain after they chased out the jews and burned down all the synagogues, but there are 2 of them in Toledo. It is really interesting all the Jewish culture that still remains in Toledo, considering the rest of Spain has never met a jewish person or seen a synagogue. Personally every time I tell someone that I am jewish they either do not understand, they are shocked or they think I'm lying.

After walking around the center of the city for a few hours I decided to go check out the old castle wall that still surrounds the entire city. There was an old bridge, where people had locked padlocks (a tradition I have noticed all over europe to show ever lasting love). From the bridge I noticed a castle up on the hill and I still had an hour before my Train was scheduled to leave. I went up the hill and there seemed to be no entrance to the castle gate and it didn't seem like a tourist friendly place so I just walked up the hill a bit more, where I found a hospital (strange place for a hospital). On my way back down the hill a big tour bus had stopped and the driver asked me for directions. I told him I had no idea, and as he drove away I noticed someone come out of the gate from the castle so I checked it and it was open. I went in and walked around, there were cats and I didn't see any people. I think it was a public place but I really do not know because no one was there. There were a couple cats lounging in the yard. I took some pictures that overlook the city and I headed back down toward the train. I still had time so I stopped at a bar across the the train station and order a caña. Sometimes I forget that in many parts of Spain when you order a drink you get a free tapas. It really is a crap shoot because sometimes you get something along the lines of a bowl filled with garbanzo beans and tripe (cow stomach) like I did at this bar. I ate most of it but tripe is kinda difficult for me to eat even though it doesn't taste bad.

After my train arrived in Madrid I just walked the streets for awhile before finding my hostel. It was by far the worst hostel experience I have ever had (also the cheapest). Someone had taken an apartment and put tons of beds in it. There were no lockers, no privacy and the place was just gross (smelled of smoke and had brown pillows). I had to sleep with my stuff since there were no lockers and it was difficult enough sleeping in the smelly crappy place, but then a few hours after I went to bed the girl who had the bunk above mine came home. Very squeaky metal bunk bed woke me up when she climbed up there. I then noticed a second person (another girl) climbed up there too, without getting into much detail these girls were drunk and they kept me up. Overall a terrible night. The next morning I woke up and headed to the Embassy. Interesting experience but things went pretty smoothly, they gave me the letter and directions to the scientific police station where I could get my finger prints. The police woman man handled my fingers handed me a napkin and sent me on my way with my FBI fingerprint card. I now have finished the most difficult part of my visa for going to Korea this coming Fall. Here are some pictures of crazy Madrid and beautiful Toledo.

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