29/11/89

We broke camp just as the sun was breaking through the thick fog and drove the last 30 kilometres to Toledo. We stopped for a hot drink in a cafe on the outskirts of town and by the time we got into the city the fog had thickened into cold drizzle with a biting wind.

It took about an hour to find somewhere to park, at the foot of the hill upon which the old part of town is built. Toledo is an old walled city surrounded on nearly every side by the Tagus River, which curves around the base of the hill. The huge palace at the very top of the hill, called the Alcazar, was the scene of the decisive battle of the Spanish Civil War. The Revolutionary Forces, under General Franco, defeated King Juan Carlos’ forces there in 1936 and virtually reduced the place to rubble in the process.

Linda and I walked up one of the narrow streets and found a place to have some lunch then went off in search of the sights. Our first stop was the cathedral which, at first sight, seemed closed but after walking right round we found the entrance and went in. It was a magnificent cathedral with huge pillars reaching up into the vaulted ceiling, with a huge amount of wood panelling and sculptures. There are several works by El Greco including a domed painting called the Transparency and many of the statues are finished in gold. We met Scotty there looking around and together we walked up to the Alcazar.

The palace has been restored to its former glory and turned into a museum of the Spanish Civil War and Spanish military history. One room has been left as it was after a shell exploed in it during the seige of 1936.

About 2:30 we made our way back to the truck and drove out of town in the direction of Madrid. We camped the night in a dis-used brick factory under the cover of a lean-to shed. We found some old pallets to chop up for the fire and made ourselves comfortable. We had a very warm and comfortable night sleeping on the ground around the fire which we kept burning most of the night.

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