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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Still in Spain

So almost by accident I went to Toledo. This is pronounced toe-lay-dough for all of us Americans who have mispronounced it our entire lives. Even though I speak fairly fluent Spanish it is difficult, at times, to unlearn things like this just as it is difficult for me to mispronounce English words while speaking Spanish to make it clearer for Spanish speakers. Try saying SEATTLE in Spanish.

I had a lot of really good luck on this trip so I half-expected something to go wrong at some point. I was half-expecting to spend a night sleeping in a train station. It wouldn’t be the first time. In Toledo I just walked around and enjoyed my good fortune of finding a great hotel.

I noticed that the were only going to be three trains out of Toledo the next day so I very wisely decided to check out the bus schedules the night before. I had been told that Spanish buses are really nice and economical. As it turns out there are buses to Madrid leaving every thirty minutes. This was one less thing I had to worry about as I did the tourist thing. If you want to read about Toledo get a guide book; I’m the world’s worst tourist. All I do is walk around, look at crap, and try to find good places to get a drink. I’m more interested in how people live than who lived here over the centuries. I couldn’t think of the name of the hotel I was staying in so I told the driver the name was some dead king or other.

This isn’t to say that I’m a complete incult as they say in French. It’s like the whole thing with the soccer hooligan stance I’ve taken since arriving here. I really don’t want to read about politics while I’m on vacation and I’m sure people don’t want to talk about politics with and American. Soccer has been a common cultural literacy I’ve been able to share with a lot of people here.

I woke up late and got to the bus station at about 11:25. I bought a ticket for 3.89 euros for a bus that left for Madrid at 11:30. It only took 45 minutes to get from Toledo to the bus terminal in the capital and from there we took the metro to our hotel. Transportation here has been incredibly fast, efficient, and economical.

While we were out doing the tapas thing with our Spanish friends we caught the second half of the Real Madrid, Valencia soccer match which was hyped as the game of the year. The outstanding French midfielder, Zidane, was sitting out a game for a bogus red card he was given in Real Madrid’s previous outing against Sevilla. Valencia scored on a corner kick and header at about 77 minutes into the game. In the final minute of the game Raul was fouled in the zone and Madrid was awarded a penalty kick. Figo is pretty automatic on these so the game ended in a very controversial tie.

After the game we took our Spanish hosts to our favorite place in Madrid: La Cerveceria Alemana in the Plaza Santa Ana. There is no German beer at this place, just a friendly staff, good food, and excellent Spanish vermouth on tap.

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