Part 1: Gemma, Gareth, Mum and Dad
Night Location: Segovia, Spain
Mumisode of the Day: While we were walking along the footpath after dinner, a bus released its compression brakes with a loud burst of wind. Mum hopped high in the air like a kangaroo with fright, much to the delight of Gemma who was following behind.
Today we awoke in a thick, thick fog. Very similar to the start to our day in Salamanca: the view that we knew would be so magnificent had melted into the shroud of white. Toledo is a town where for hundreds of years Judaism, Christianity and Islam have co-existed. We visited a 12th century Jewish synagogue, and the intricate architecture was so beautiful. Not far from here, still in the Jewish quarter we got our first taste of one of the many Toledo gold shops. The designs are unique, and just beautiful.
Sadly, today is a religious holiday in Spain and so we missed out on the Toledo cathedral as mass was happening. Even though the fog was still thick we crossed the ancient bridge to the south bank of the river where we could gaze up at the walled city in wonder. If the fog had have lifted a little earlier we would have made use of the fantastic walking paths along the river and along the top of the gorge.
Not long after leaving Toledo we found ourselves in brilliant sun once more. The stop of the day was Avila, a small town with ancient walls. Being a public holiday, the Spanish were out in force with children in tow to take in the sights and the fantastic winter sun. Finding a spot for lunch wasn't easy as everyone seemed to be relaxing at their table over a leisured meal. The poor waiters were literally running they were so busy.
Chose not to climb up on the walls here as there was both a queue and a fee. We did see the cathedral built right into the wall which was interesting. The base of the wall was also the natural rock found at the top of the hill with man-cut stones on top of these.
Our hotel this evening in Segovia was in a converted monastery. It was a little tricky to find for this reason. Gareth and Gemma stumbled into the basilica looking for reception with little luck. The main reason for choosing this hotel, when it was eventually found was because it was located at the start of the ancient aqueduct that makes Segovia so famous.
Not long after dropping off the bags we headed off to explore this aqueduct while we still had light to do so. Our first impressions were that it was interesting but not amazing as there was simply a channel in the stone wall about at waist height. However, as we started to follow the aqueduct. this channel became higher and higher until it eventually towered over us. The most impressive section ran from a hill where we emerged, down into a plaza looking down at the city and then up over the castle wall. These kinds of structures leave you wondering how it is possible to ever create them.
An almost full moon was rising over the city and it was just amazing to see it shining through the arches of the aqueduct. Gemma had several attempts at capturing this but it is so hard to capture the light.
For once we broke with Spanish tradition and found a cafe on the Plaza Mayor that was open for dinner. It was only 6:30! The spinach lasagne was actually really nice, but then the desserts, while delicious, made us feel a little sick. Gemma, Mum and Dad ordered lemon cake that was a cross between lemon sponge and lemon meringue pie smothered in cream. Gareth had a Spanish chocolate cake that was the richest cake any of us had ever tasted. As Mum pointed out you couldn't even get it off the fork without using your teeth. Mum demolished her lemon cake, helped Gareth with half of his chocolate and then finished off Gemma's cake. Her dessert stomach should be studied for scientific purposes.
More pictures of the aqueduct on the way home. Staring up at this massive structure is a little daunting as you know that where you are staying it is only at waist height! Can't believe that tomorrow is the last destination on the Spanish adventure. Where did that time go?
Part 2 - Amber and David
Night location: Zurich, Switzerland
In short, today has been one massive transit day to Zurich. We left our hotel just before 11am, boarded a train to the airport, checked our bags in, made it through security, and then waited to board our flight. Our flight was delayed so we continued to wait, and wait. Finally we were given our gate number that was in Terminal C so we boarded another train and made our way to the gate where we proceeded to wait. Eventually we boarded the plane where we waited for permission to taxi on the runway. After taxiing to the runway we waited for our turn to take off which finally happened at about 5:50pm. And what a take off it was. The weather in London has been excellent for the past week, but today was really windy, overcast and there was patchy rain making it not ideal for flying. David and I were genuinely terrified as we were racing down the runway doing zigzags as if we were being tossed around by the wind. In the air was even worse as at one point the wing of the plane looked to be flapping! I shut my eyes for the remainder of the ascent.
Landing in Zurich was positively tranquil comparatively! We caught the train to our hotel where we were treated like royalty! Swissotel Zurich has such impressive customer service. The evening concluded with a swim in the heated infinity pool on the top floor that overlooks Zurich. A pleasant end to a not so pleasant day.