Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Toledo Re-visited

So, I’m sticking to my word and THEN SOME. I have to separate my posts in two because otherwise the blog post would seem never ending and we can’t have that. Since the second semester has started back up things have been non-stop! I selected three excellent classes and I’m looking forward to upcoming topics in all three. With this new semester comes new undergraduate students and this means…. The WELCOME reception. The welcome reception and the closing reception last semester were held in a hotel near the school and this welcome reception was no exception. I like the welcome receptions because the undergraduates have to undergo a “signing ceremony”. They sign the palabra de honor, the promise that they will only speak Spanish in the school. We had a great time; many professors and the majority of graduate students attend the welcome reception.

The most exciting piece of news is that the school took us to Toledo a couple of weekends ago! The last time I went to Toledo was when I was 17 years old and we were only there for half a day so going back 8 years later for an entire day was amazing. My memories of Toledo had seemed so faded before our daytrip but after walking around a bit things became a lot clearer. The incredible aspect of Toledo is its mixture of three cultures: Christian, Jewish and Islamic. There is a Jewish quarter of the city where all along the streets there are small tiles with Hebrew engravings in the stones. There is a mosque, a synagogue and a cathedral. These buildings are all so gorgeous and their histories are well preserved.

An undergraduate professor came with us to explain everything that Toledo had to offer; the small details about the three religious buildings and the history behind them. Toledo is the city of El Greco, one of Spain’s most famous painters who lived in Toledo. In the Cathedral many of his paintings are on display including one of his more famous works, The Disrobing of Christ. In high school when we went, we saw El Greco’s house and unfortunately that wasn’t on our itinerary, but seeing his house was one of my memories of Toledo that remained clear so I don’t feel as though I missed out this time around.

In between visits, we had some free time to eat lunch and shop if you felt so inclined. Some friends and I went to a restaurant that had a phenomenal menú del día.  I had been told earlier that day that Toledo was known for its perdiz dish, which is partridge. I had never eaten partridge before, but I like to try typical dishes when I am in a new town or city so I decided to order it. Like many other types of poultry, it tasted like chicken and it was delicious!

I also took advantage of the time to shop…of course. Not for just anything….I really wanted to purchase Damascene Plates. Toledo is famous for them. It comes from a Moorish tradition of carving decorative patterns into black steel and filling the carvings with 24 karat gold. They sell them in all sizes and I just wanted a very small one. However, they are EXPENSIVE…so I settled for the knock-off version, which is still very beautiful. I also bought earrings that have the REAL damascene design, so I left very satisfied.

Overall, our trip to Toledo was a complete success and now I have ironclad memories. Below are some pictures I took with my phone, because unfortunately I left my camera cord back in the United States. I am very annoyed by this because my smartphone isn’t an iPhone or anything special like that and therefore the quality isn’t the greatest. The camera doesn’t even have a flash. However, I am going to try and make do with my phone. Enjoy the photos! 

The Disrobing of Christ -- El Greco

Panoramic view of the city

The whole group!

This damascene plate is very similar to the one I purchased

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