Travel: Toledo & Madrid – May 2009

Toledo & Madrid

Outside the main walls

Outside the main walls

Oj and I flew to Madrid to hang out with our good friend Sharky Bones McCoy. We were joined by Salty who flew in direct from New York. A good crew for travelling with.  I’ve “done” Madrid before – so this trip was more about seeing friends. But, Sharky – who lives there – suggested a train excursion out of the city to somewhere far more interesting:

Toledo.

Used as a location in The Ninth Gate, the French-Spanish-American thriller film directed, produced, and co-written by Roman Polanski and one of my all time favourite movies. (You can see an in-depth write up and analysis of the occult symbolism used in the movie here).

The place does not disappoint.  Incredible medieval atmosphere with a fusion of modern Spanish culture and something else – something unique and different that is hard to discover in western countries these days.

High defensive walls

High defensive walls

It is an incredible medieval construction. Hemmed in on three sides by a river, forcing you to cross these narrow stone bridges to gain access to the lowest areas.. passing through the first curtain wall you have to negotiate a series of steep zig-zagging ascents before reaching the 2nd curtain wall, and entering the old town proper.

We reached a point where you could climb up onto the high walls that would have been used by defenders dropping rocks and oil on attackers. One area involved a narrow wall with a sheer 12 metre drop. 

Look at the drop… it’s identical on the other side. Now look at the photo above… you can see how narrow the top of the wall she’s walking along actually is. One wrong step, one gust of wind.

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Statue in Toledo

Statue in Toledo

Toledo

Toledo

 Much of the town is comprised of these impossible narrow alleys. The place reminds me of Venice… but without the air of creeping decay (not unpleasant) that seems to invade Venice in the evening or during quiet months and cold weather.

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Toledo - Man's impossible reach for a rope

Toledo – invader or escape

Toledo medieval weapons and Roman armour

Toledo medieval weapons and Roman armour

One of several shops were you can buy any number of medieval weapons, including swords and maces, through to shields and whole suits of armour. It’s these kind of lingering historical creations that make such a huge comeback with the survivors of Yellow Dawn.

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Toledo - religious iconography

Toledo – religious iconography

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Toledo – David J Rodger

Madrid

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Madrid – The Invisible Man performs

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Madrid – Statue of the Pope

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Madrid – Art in the Park – Parque del Retiro

If you go to Madrid you must go to Parque del Retiro.  This vast area of lanscaped parkland was  formerly the grounds of the palace built for Felipe IV. Located near to the Puerta de Alcalá and the Prado Museum.  It’s a wonderful place to spend time on a sunny day, crammed with sculpture and monuments, galleries, a quiet lake and host to a many events.  The lake once staged mini naval sham battles to amuse royalty; now you’re more likely to enjoy pleasure boating (available to rent there). Apparently inspired by London’s crystal palace, the palacio de cristal can be found at the south-eastern end of the park. 

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Madrid – Central Park – Parque del Retiro

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Madrid – Monster runs loose in the park

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Madrid – tree dappled sunbeams on path in Parque del Retiro

Madrid - Parque del Retiro - Strange trees

Madrid – Parque del Retiro – Strange trees

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Madrid – the lady and the mask – Parque del Retiro

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David J Rodger – DATA

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