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Published: September 30th 2017
A fountain near Toledo's bus station. Deja vu - I remember looking at this fountain last year, waiting for the bus that would take me to my destiny ...
Geo: 39.8568, -4.02448
It was a good thing that we had 2.5 hours to connect flights - the lineups for customs, security, and baggage claim were huge! I was absolutely grilled by the customs guy. Mary stepped up first and was asked "Traveling alone, or with THAT guy???" After she nodded yes he ominously beckoned me over like I was being called to the Principal's office.
"Purpose of trip???" "Vacation." "How long???" "Just passing through the UK." "Where to???" "Spain." "Purpose of trip???" "Uh ... vacation ..." He was obviously trying to trip me up. "Where after Spain???" "The Baltics." He interrogated me further - "You were here already this year. What for???" Luckily, we managed to escape just as he was reaching for a single rubber glove ... I still don't know why he questioned me like that. Perhaps it's my shady appearance, or perhaps because Mary looks like a classic drug mule.
We waited forever to get our baggage. Perhaps Mary's giant bag within a bag plugged up the system? It was SO obvious when it came out. We checked in for the Madrid flight and the worker told us her bag within a bag would get caught, so
Mary was so excited to find a store named after her. She was quite disappointed when she realized that it wasn't a sex shop.
we had to take it to the over-sized section.
The security line-up was massive, even at this early hour. Somebody passed some absolutely horrid gas - people all around covered their noses. Mary and I looked at each other and laughed because we both had the same thought - "Is Tri in London?" Even funnier is that we both thought "No, of course not. But we could probably still smell his gas all the way from Canada!"
Mary had a moment of panic - she looked at her watch, which was already set to Spanish time. She commented on how late it was getting ... but if her watch was actually correct, we would have already missed the flight! She was obviously dazed because her reaction was much less severe than it should've been. She later commented that she thought we were already in Madrid. Somebody get this girl some sleep!
The flight was on British Airways - I was a little disappointed because sometimes it could actually be a flight operated by Iberia (or some other Spanish airline). And a Spanish airline would have Spanish hottie flight attendants ... ahh ... memories of flying to the Balearic
We noticed quite a few car models named after Spanish cities. Given that this was the "Toledo" model, I expected a cuter, more petite car with a sexy sound that drives men crazy. Wait ... I've confused the "Toledo" car with the Toledo hotel receptionists. My bad - I barely slept last night, remember? Of course, that doesn't explain how I was rubbing up on the car, and asking if I could move the beds apart ...
Islands on Air Nostrum two years ago ... too bad they didn't buy the story I gave them about having a fear of flying, and that my doctor told me I would die of fright if I wasn't held by Spanish hottie flight attendants for the duration of the flight ...
On the plane - I felt a pin prick as I sat down. My Canada flag pin had fallen off my bag and impaled my butt quite deeply. The funny thing is that I barely felt it. The funnier thing is that shortly before, I told Mary that my booty has been growing recently and has been getting a little "ghetto" in size. But it's all good - I always drop weight when I travel so I'm hoping that it shrinks! It was a little cold on board ... Mary wrapped herself in a jacket and trembled like a little old lady in her shawl - too funny!
It was an incredibly fast trip up to this point. We landed in Madrid but if felt like we only left Canada a few moments before. We were in the new Barajas terminal - sparkling new, but surprisingly dead
We took a picture of this wedding shop, with the idea of somehow working it into a practical joke we were going to pull on our friends back home.
considering the time of day (12:30). We needed to take a train to the baggage claim and waited forever for our bags. They didn't come out until more than 45 minutes after landing - those Spanish bag handlers must have been on siesta!
Off to the bus station - all in all, it was a hell of a long day. It would be more than 17 or 18 hours from the time we left Calgary until the time we reached our final destination for the night. And what was our final destination? Uhhh ... Toledo ... those that know me will know why I am here. It involves a beautiful Spanish girl, a crazy plan, and an even crazier Canadian. Yup ... I was back to see Isabel. For those that don't know the story ... (see Euro 2006 blog entitled "Getting ready ...." http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/europe_2006/1163473080/tpod.html?tweb_UID=pwong )
What was my intent? I really don't know ... the feelings and the situation are definitely completely different than last year. Honestly, this time was just for fun and to see the look on her face when I walked through the door. I first thought of doing this many months ago - I
Some kind of fishing competition was going on in town. I really didn't care, because I was too busy looking for the Spanish hotties.
guess it's always been about chasing a feeling. I just no longer know what that feeling is.
I can't say I felt anywhere near what I felt last year, or the year before ... or that the preparation was there (my Spanish sucks now!) Even before last year's attempt, I decided that I would return unless something stopped me from going. But this time I just didn't have the feeling of anticipation, excitement, hope, or nerves (though I did get EXTREMELY nervous about 30 minutes from Toledo!).
In fact, I had almost a feeling of dread ... I was questioning why I was here and felt like I was doing the wrong thing. I really didn't feel good about the whole thing. Chasing a feeling, right? The funny thing is, sometimes you think you've found that something else that gives you that incredible feeling. Even up to the last minute before you get on that plane you hope that you'll be given a reason NOT to go, but as much as you wish that it would be, you realize it'll never happen the way you had hoped for ... and the next thing you know, you're sitting on
Mary Moment #3 - I can't remember exactly what Mary said, but she made some inappropriate comment about these bananas. Tsk, tsk ...
a bus, 17 hours into the journey to Toledo!
The one good thing about this whole Isabel situation is that there is never any disappointment ... how can there be in an impossible situation like this? Disappointment only happens when there are expectations. Perhaps that's why I went back again ... it allows me to take a chance without really taking a chance. Does this make sense? Because I'm not sure I totally get it either! It might be that it's a protection mechanism for me - no matter what else happens in my personal life, it's something to fall back on!
We arrived in Toledo - surprisingly, we weren't dying of heat! And finally ... we walked through the door of the Hotel Sol ... unless Isabel magically aged over 30 years, it wasn't her 😞 I inquired - she wasn't working there this summer. At least, that's what I think she said - my Spanish sucks now, remember? I can't say that I was overly disappointed because I had zero expectations. But I was a little sad - as if I had traveled a long way to see a friend, only to find that I had
Why must I always be mocked? I couldn't find Isabel at the Hotel Sol, but I could find the canned food version of her? I felt crushed ...
missed them. I considered writing a short note just to say that I had been there, and to ask the hotel to send it to Isabel. But I realized it was fate - 3 times I have been here, and 3 times it didn't happen. Fate has never wanted it to happen so I need to accept that.
Honestly, I felt like crap after - not because she wasn't there, but because all along I felt like I was doing the wrong thing. And after showing up, I KNEW that I had done the wrong thing. I knew that other something that would never be what I wanted it to be, was the only place I wanted to be. Read that again if you need to - sometimes I don't understand my own words, either. Such is life!
I think Mary was actually more disappointed than me - she was REALLY looking forward to seeing the famous Isabel. I don't know if people really believe that she actually exists - they probably think that someone that could drive me to do such crazy things must be mythical. I told Mary that it wasn't a big deal and to remember a
... until I realized that a shelf full of "Isabels" wasn't a bad thing!
conversation we had on the airplane.
Last year, my Spanish teacher Vicky told me that no matter what happened with Isabel, I need to remember the Spanish word "aprovechar". It means "to make the most of" - and when things didn't work out last year, I did make the most of it. Just like we will do for the rest of this trip.
We were staying on the hotel side, versus their hostal (NOT hostel) side - it was a little bit nicer. We unpacked a little and were off to sightsee. It was very breezy and actually a little cold for Toledo (it's usually >35 C in August). I was a little disappointed with the Spanish hotties today. The weather must be keeping them away!
The Santa Cruz museum was first - it was my second time there but I didn't mind, since the entry is free. Of course, the Alcazar is still closed for renovation (as it has been the previous two times I was here). One day I will see it! We walked and chatted with a couple from Washington State. They were here with the wife's Spanish language group. We got to talking about
View of the Hotel Sol. Doesn't look like much from the outside but trust me, it's BEAUTIFUL inside. At least it was the previous two years ... but not this time ...
how I'd been to Spain twice before. They seemed puzzled that I had been here so many times - Mary and I just looked at each other and grinned. I'm getting tired of explaining the whole Isabel saga!
Time to look for dinner - we came across "El Trebol", a tapas bar recommended by the guidebook (and coincidentally, by Isabel two years ago). It didn't look too busy or that great so we decided on another tapas place. We had some fried shrimps, manchego cheese, calamari romesco, carcamusas (some kind of tasty stew - thought it could have been dog, but it turned out to be pork), and some garlic shrimp. It wasn't the best food (typical of Spain!) but it was good value for 15 euros for the two of us (including 3 glasses of wine). Our perception of the meal was better after seeing the bill - we thought it would have cost more. It's interesting because customers are usually given a free tapa with each drink. So we probably would have ended up paying the same amount if we hadn't ordered any wine.
We chatted with a lady from California and an Irish couple (I suspected
Manchego cheese and calamari at the tapas bar. Mmmm ... tapa-licious ...
they were from the UK, but didn't want to insult them by asking!). Apparently the weather in Spain has been crazy for a while - rain, cold, storms ... what's going on???
We walked to a park just outside of the old town - I was here two years ago, and last year. Memories ... but now it also reminds me of a park I went to in Siracusa last year. But I prefer the park in Siracusa, because its mafia-run gelato stand (no joke!) made some incredible almond and ricotta gelato.
We had some gelato ... turron (nougat). Crap! There was some kind of outdoor cartoon festival in the park. As we watched Donald Duck on a big screen, Mary commented "Donald Duck sounds pretty hot when he speaks Spanish!" Who knew that she had a duck fetish? That was Mary Moment #2. A pretty mild moment, by Mary's lofty standards!
Back to the hotel for a much needed shower, some journal writing, and an episode of "Friends" in Spanish. Off to bed ... we were both wiped out from the long day of traveling.
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