Madrid was a bustling city, especially at ten a night when and street goers filled the streets and cafes. In Madrid, some of our highlights were the El Prado Museum and The Debod Temple. Interestingly, this is a real Egyptian temple that Egypt gifted to Spain for its monumental help in saving the temple at Abul Simbel. Being a vegetarian here was difficult, as every corner store had plenty of dried meats and sausages, but very little vegetables.
We took the train to Barcelona. A coastal city much like San Francisco, but without the hills. We enjoyed the large open air markets and walks along the beach side promenade. There are several famous statues of Christopher Columbus in this town which made me wonder about the link between Barcelona and the famous explorer (Simon Harris explores this link in his book “Catalonia is not Spain”).
Another highlight was visiting the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família. National Geographic did a great special on it (Click Here). It is still under construction after 135 years after starting construction. We weren’t able to go in when we visited. The architect Antoni Gaudi was a famous polymath. Take a look at this post to see some of the interesting mathematical concepts rolled up in this building project. (Click Here)
The Medieval city of Toledo (A Unesco world heritage site) is a short bus ride from Madrid. We saw it miles before getting there because like many medieval towns it was built on a lone hill. In those times it gave the advantage during warfare and security. However now, it just means we can see it long before we get there. Walking the narrow cobblestone streets would have given a better idea of medieval Europe if there wasn’t shops at every corner. Although I have to admit it was hard to walk away from a Toledo steel sword shop. I tried to imagine myself leaving Toledo and running into Don Quixote in La Mancha, much like the traders did in the First Sally. How different the world must have looked in in the 1600s. However, records of Toledo go all the way back to 193 BC according to the Roman historian Livy. Which means it has been continuously occupied for over 2000 years. That is a long stretch of continued occupation.