Spain: Toledo

Today I am taking the train from Madrid to explore the city of Toledo. Toledo is a city in Castilla-La Mancha known for its history of Arab, Jewish and Christian influences. Toledo is about a 30 minute train ride from Madrid from the Madrid Atocha station. It is easy to get a last minute ticket since there are about 15 trains a day that do this route. I have a little delay on finding where to buy the tickets initially but I eventually figure it out. I’ve decided to sign up online for a RENFE card. I earn points I’m not sure how to use but most tickets I buy from this day forward are in advance using my phone where I can log in and all my info automatically gets populated to save time.

I arrive in Toledo and follow the crowd towards town. There are a couple routes to get into the city, I choose the one with many stairs. Starting my day breaking a large sweat seems to be the theme of my traveling the next couple weeks. I like hitting the shoulder seasons when I travel but it seems I’ve hit Spain at the beginning of the hottest time of year.

On the walk into town

As I get closer to the old city I feel the need to take some photos with my fancier camera. I haven’t used it extensively for a while. It immediately starts acting up. The after market batteries I bought in Southeast Asia in 2019 are no longer holding a charge and the battery gets stuck in my camera. I can’t seem to get the stupid battery out. I eventually get it out with my room card but I vow to toss that battery later. I put the camera away for now and continue to the old town.

After I climb many stairs I end up in the main thoroughfare where there are shops and cafes. I am enjoying the shade cloth they have along the street. It is a very hot day and every little counts. I note this in another city days later. I think it is a fantastic idea.

I head first to the church Santo Tomé, a small church that is famous for its El Greco The Burial of Count Orgaz.

Toledo is all about El Greco and by the end of the day I am El Greco’d out but this is a nice start. It is a quick visit.

Toledo had a view large Jewish population in the 1400’s until they were expelled in 1492. The Tránsito Synagogue and Jewish Museum shows the history during that time. I enjoy looking at the wooden ceiling and Mudéjar architecture.

I wander over to San Juan de los Reyes Monasterio built by catholic monarchs as a tribute to the victory at the battle of Toro. It is said to have been originally designated as the resting place for Isabel and Ferdinand (Note: They are in Granada). It is another great example of Mudéjar style. There are again some really impressive wood ceilings.

Nearby is Sinagoga de Santa María La Blanca a Jewish synagogue built in Moorish style that was later converted to a Christian church. It is once more an example of the melting of three religious cultures in this city.

I stop for a couple minutes and eat my bocadilla I bought in the morning then head over to the Museo del Greco where I observe the unhinged looking personalities in his paintings and the paintings of people who studied under him.

I’m getting el sicko of el Greco but I have one more stop on the El Greco tour, the Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo or Toledo Cathedral.

I get burned out easily when I see tons of cathedrals but this one is definitely worth the stop. I’m glad I am here in the late afternoon since I’ve seemed to miss the crowds of all the day-trippers….yes I am a day-tripper too but I’m not in a group that crowds up the place.

The cathedral is Spanish Gothic style with a hint of Mudejar architecture inside. I especially like the main chapel with its over the top pictorial of new testament scenes.

Behind the main chapel is a pretty spectacular display that goes all the up to the ceiling where it appears heaven itself has so boldly provided the lighting.

I love this and can’t believe its the first time I’ve heard this story of the giant that carries people across the river.

A visit to the chapter house shows a display of portraits of its Archbishops as well as some nice frescos.

Soon I’ve hit the El Greco’s again. I admit they are nice but I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten my fill of El Greco for a lifetime at this point.

My favorite by far of the church is the choir. I am delighted when I notice the odd bottoms of the choir seats. The seats also contain wood carvings of various battles.

I am tired since this is my first full day of sightseeing, I am about to call it quits after the cathedral even though I still have some hours to go before it is time for my return train to Madrid. I walk by the Ermita “Mezquita” del Cristo de la Luz which is still open. Here I see a small Catholic church that was once a mosque.

With time to kill I wander a bit more. I am looking for a cafe to have a snack and a drink but I’ve hit the dreaded siesta time and there doesn’t seem to be much open that fits what I need.

I find an outdoor park with a limited menu cafe and order a beer and some mass produced patatas bravas. I am not really a big fan of potatoes in my every day life but they seem to be a staple here so I dive into a plate.

It is almost time to go so I head to the train station and catch the 7:20PM train back to Madrid. I leave town a different way than I’ve entered so I get a different perspective.

Its a short ride back to Madrid and somehow I still have energy stores. I clean up and try to check out Calle Cava Baja in Madrid, a place popular for tapas crawls. I’m still early but the place I have chosen, La Perejila, is already very busy. I insert myself into a small spot at the bar and order a vermut and a pintxo. I’ve been here before but I wanted to return since I found it charming last time. Eventually a table clears and I am offered the table. I much rather sit at the bar but I am in an awkward spot so I take the table. I mean to stop at another spot but I am exhausted and head back to the hotel. After all I have another busy day scheduled tomorrow.

Calle Cava Baja

Bogota Museum Day

La Candelaria area of Bogota

I am still in Bogota Colombia and will spend the day visiting museums.

Colombia is still new to me and the public transportation is intimidating so I end up using the Cabify app to call a taxi to take me to the main tourist areas.

I start first at the Museo Botero to get a good look at some of Botero’s chunky art work. His pictures and sculptures are so much fun to see.

Love the chubby animals and the expressions they hold.

Along with the Botero art the museum contains pieces from other artists.

Max Ernst

After the Botero museum I head over to the Museo de Oro. I really have no interest in gold but the museum is highly rated so I give it a try anyway.

I see lots of gold pieces but what is great about this museum is organization of items and customs by different indigenous groups of the nearby regions (pre-Hispanic societies).

I like the exhibit on the extensive drainage channels built by Zenúes indigenous people. The channels are built to handle the regular floods of the region while still being able to maintain agriculture. It is pretty advanced for its time.

I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the area of La Candelaria.

I once again used Cabify to order a taxi. I had a hard time getting taxi to pick me up. I used a taxi app but practically had to push someone out of my cab when it arrived because people were trying to flag down cabs that would never stop. I am leaving Bogota tomorrow but if I ever return I will definitely learn public transport.

Bogota is such a nice city that I could have used a couple more days in exploring the region. Maybe someday I will return.

National Gallery of Victoria

Kaws at NGV International

Today I am visiting museums – specifically a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). There are two locations of NGV in Melbourne, The Ian Potter Centre (Australian art) and NGV International (extensive collection of international art). Note: The international location is temporarily closed as of time of this post.

I first stop at the The Ian Potter Centre since it is on the way for my walk to the NGV International. I catch the free exhibit by Lucy McRae, an Australian artist.

Nearby the The Ian Potter Centre
Nearby the The Ian Potter Centre

Lucy McRae: Body Architect

I watch a short film by the artist:

Institute of Isolation, 2016, is an observational documentary that contemplates whether isolation, or extreme experience, might be used to build human resilience in the context of space travel and off-planetary existence. McRae ponders: what happens to people when they are travelling for decades in a very, very small space? What will the body and mind need to endure and how will people prepare? – From NGV website

The artist’s main inspiration of her art is the question How will technology transform the body?

The museum exhibit contains videos and photographs that show her thoughts on body and technology.

I skip the other galleries at the Ian Potter NGV because there are special exhibits at the other museum that have timed and limited entry.

NGV International

Artwork by Kaws and Keith Haring

The theme today is NYC -> coincidently the city I recently moved away from. The artists featured in the premium exhibitions are from NYC.

The first exhibit I visit is KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS.

I love his take on pop culture personalities.

Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines

The next special ticket exhibit is the Haring and Basquiat combination gallery. The museum highlights a number of works from both artists; both were prominent in the art world during the same period. I have seen pieces from both artists at museums around the world but this is the largest collection I have seen from both artists thus far.

Keith Haring

Jean-Michel Basquiat

After I finish my viewing of the NYC artists I move on to some other exhibits while time allows. Normally I am not interested in fashion but the fashion exhibit below pulls me in.

Comme des Garçons by Rei Kawakubo

I also watch another art film but this time by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat.

Dreamers

I see some rooms with other collections: Picasso and such. However I am especially drawn to the animal art in the NGV Salon. The salon holds interesting 19th century artwork. Unfortunately I have to discover these rooms quickly because the museum is closing. I hope to return someday to get a closer look at the artwork.

After the museum closes I wander around the nearby Arts Center where I order a cocktail and get a snack. Museum days wear me out so I head back to my part of town sooner than later.

I take a different tram back to Collingwood today. It drops me off near a brewery called Stomping Ground Brewery & Beer Hall where I try a couple beers before settling in for the evening.

Taj Mahal

During my trip to India earlier this year I got to visit the Taj Mahal twice. For the first visit the company that was hosting us chartered a bus to take us. For the second visit my husband and I had a private tour.

The Great gate

Calligraphy

And there it is after crossing through the gate.

You have to wear show covers to walk inside.

Very detailed stone work.

Minaret

The mosque

Side building

Later they took us to see stone artisans in action.

And there is always an opportunity to buy.

London – Kensington Palace

During our last visit to London we stayed near Kensington Palace. Since we were so close I decided to add it to our itinerary.

The palace has housed royals since the 1600’s and now contains residences for current royals. Unfortunately they keep the tourist areas far from the royal apartments so no royal sightings for us.
The palace has a lovely garden that I am sure is even more beautiful in the spring and summer (we were there in the winter).

As part of the exhibit one gets to see many rooms of the palace but what I found more interesting was the dresses and royal items that they had for display.

The walls were filled with beautiful paintings as well.

Also great about this museum is the history of Queen Victoria’s reign on display here. She spent her whole life in the palace. A good amount of the exhibits were about her and her life in the palace.

These interesting dolls were on display as well.

Rooms were dedicated to childhood fantasies of the royals. This particular display was interesting.

Around the entrance there is a touch of modern art as well.

Gold is abundant in the decor and artwork throughout.

There was much more to see throughout so it is definitely worth a visit. I thoroughly enjoyed the house and the lessons in history that it contained. I hope to visit again to view the gardens in their glory.