Fatima and Toledo
October 19-22, 2013
We set out mid morning for Fatima. The GPS sent us on a toll road but how much can a toll road cost? Anyone care to guess? One hundred miles later and 33 euro’s lighter it dawned on us, why we were the only car on the road. They have these wonderful highways in Portugal but no one can afford to drive on them. They also have automatic tolls on some of the roads and I’m sure they will catch up with us at some point. We arrived at Fatima in the early afternoon. We have never seen so many tour busses in my life. There had to be a parking lot 3 football fields long, with at least a 100 busses. After riding around in circles for half an hour, trying to find our hotel, with our confused GPS we stopped and asked for directions. The GPS didn’t realize there was an underground tunnel to get to the other side of complex. Anyway we found the hotel, checked in and it came with parking, yahoo. I guess if you are a Christian, Fatima is a place you don’t want to miss, if you are in the area. That being said, it is very commercial, along with being very spiritual. We toured the complex, said a prayer for Mac and everyone else who might need a spiritual uplifting at the Chapel of Apparitions. This is the spot where the Virgin Mary appeared to the three shepherd children. We hope it helps Mac, he so young and going through so much in his fight with LCH. After our touring we took the recommendation of our trusty Frommer’s book and had dinner at Grelha, a Grill Portuguese restaurant. The food was excellent and the service was outstanding. After dinner, we walked back to the Cathedral to see it with all the lights. It is truly a magnificent and spiritual experience.
We left Fatima in the morning, heading back to where we started our trip, in Aranjuez Spain. The ride through the mountains of Portugal, no tolls this time, was very nice. We were on a small winding road that took us through small villages and beautiful scenery. There is much to see on the coast of Spain and Portugal but the real fun would be to do a road trip through the center of the countries. It’s a whole different world when you get away from the heavy tourist areas. Anyway, we arrived at our hotel and settled in. We went out for a walk and dinner only to find that many of the places were closing up early because it was Sunday night. We did manage to have a beer and some olives at the place we had our first meal, after arriving in Spain late at night. The owner did remember us and gave us some good tips for our remaining time in Spain. We did find a place for dinner and then went back to the room for a good night’s sleep.
We decided on going to Toledo Spain. We looked into using the bus but the times didn’t work out, so we jumped in the car and it was off to Toledo. It’s only 30 miles, what could possibly go wrong. The GPS was doing its thing and it had us take a turn off this rotary. This didn’t look right so we went around the rotary again and took another exit. The GPS was happy, so we kept going down this road that was narrow and somewhat full of potholes. After a few miles the GPS said take a right turn, so we did. Now the road is really narrow and we are going through some corn fields. After a few miles, we could see the highway up ahead and the GPS showed a river before the highway, so we kept going. Now the road turns to dirt, we come around the bend and there is the river but where is the bridge? No bridge! So now we backtrack to the original point that the GPS told us to turn and low and behold, there was the highway, we only need to go another 100 yards. Ok, so we are a little behind schedule but we are back on track. The rest of the ride was uneventful and we did find a parking space near the Alcazar. During the Spanish Civil War in underwent a 70 day siege that almost destroyed it. This is a must see if you are in the area. The next stop was the Catedral de Toledo. This is one of the greatest Gothic structures we have ever seen. It is well worth the 7 euro’s and includes headphones and self guided tour. Annette and I agree that this is one of the most amazing structures we have ever seen, including Rome. It was a work in progress for more than 2 ½ centuries. It’s dedicated to the Virgin Mary and construction started in 1227 on the foundation of an old Mosque. The Cathedral services the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. You have to see this if you are in Spain. We had a very nice lunch before heading back to our hotel and an uneventful ride. We were walking around Aranjuez in the evening and stopped at this Plaza for a glass of wine and some olives. It was interesting sitting there watching the Plaza fill up with families out for an evening stroll. Grandfather’s playing soccer with their grandchildren, men smoking and discussing politics and women pushing their strollers. It’s a gathering place to relax and enjoy some wine, coffee or just conversation. No loud music or disruptive teens with their pants down to the asses. We had a very nice evening and finally retired back to the hotel at 10pm. We will spend some time tomorrow packing, checking on our flights and directions to the airport. It’s been a wild wind tour and we have enjoyed it but we will be looking forward to see all our family and friends back in the USA.
Annette and Bob