Toledo at sunset

For our weekend away, we went to Toledo — and I got my wish and we stayed in a hotel just on the other side of the Tajo, WITH A POOL. Which I thoroughly enjoyed on Saturday afternoon after a long, hot tromp up and down Toledo’s narrow streets. (It might have been more picturesque to have stayed on one of those narrow streets, but sometimes I just want to be a ‘Murican, and have a dip. After all, it was 38C/100F!)

It was a mixed weekend – we got snookered into an outrageously expensive touristy restaurant for Saturday lunch because we were too hot and hungry to look for someplace better – but enjoyed outstanding tapas that evening at a place full of locals – had a moving visit to the 14th century Sinagoga del Tránsito – scarfed down more lovely tapas for Sunday lunch in a bar that was basically a cave – and then got separated and sort of lost heading back to the car because I had a mini-panic attack at the top of the escalators that take you down to the parking area (have I mentioned that I’m terrified of heights?) after Mr. Pants had gotten on and was speeding down into the depths … But it was also a good weekend, even with the bumps, because it gave us a chance to get out of the house, do something different, and learn more about how we operate as a couple. Verdict: We’re getting there.

Toledo, as you can imagine, was mobbed this weekend – full, especially, of 18-to-20 year-olds being shepherded around to places that they didn’t seem all that interested in. And at one point I thought, probably uncharitably, that group tours for people at that age are a huge waste of time and resources. Not so much because they lack criteria for appreciating what they’re seeing, although some of them surely do, but because when you’re 18, and in a pack of other 18 year-olds, you’re going to be much more focused on them than you are on the big, dumb, old buildings. And it doesn’t necessarily get better once you’ve gotten a little – or a lot – older. Oh we, like sheep, indeed.

A string of pots and pans on a wall - a restaurant? Or found art, Toledo style?

When Mr. Pants and I are on the road, we do our own thing – no group visits for us, and sometimes, no “us.” He likes to go for a run in the morning, and since you’ll only catch me breaking into a run if shoes are marked way down at my favorite store, I usually take my camera and have a wander around while he’s getting his kilometers in. I like to photograph angles and quirky details, which means that I prefer to be alone so that I can focus and not worry about whether or not my companion is champing at the bit. But we also do stuff together – sometimes Mr. P will take me back to a place that he ran by, so we can investigate more thoroughly, or I’ll tell him about a place that I saw, and we’ll go there – sometimes we “save” a place that we both want to see, so we can go together. And we always eat together, natch.

For us, it seems to boil down to the quality of the experience, being able to appreciate the little bits and bobs that make up a place (like the door-knockers and hinges that I’m always photographing) , or taking a minute to talk to the locals and find out more about their home town. If that means we don’t get our ticket punched at every single monument or attraction, well, we’ll just have to save it for next time, won’t we?