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Feb 16, 2010 - Iberian excursion, day 5 - Toledo and El Escorial

It is Tuesday morning and the snow has stopped. Our little hotel is nice, even if quaint. (Our room is the one with the Spanish flag.)

We wind through the streets of Toledo again, heading back to yesterday's churro cafe for breakfast.

I didn't notice this yesterday... it is a tilework design of the Burial of Count Orgas.

The view south from our hotel is clearer today,

but Ella doesn't seem to care as long as she's warm.

Nice head, dude.

Later in the morning, we start the drive out of town, which is harder than it might sound...

After winding through streets, we have to negotiate this two-way city gate.

But mom makes it look easy.

We we start to head down the hill-top city, we get a view of the 11th century Puente de Alcántara.

More narrow and curvy streets...

and over to Alcázar, started by the Romans, remodeled by the Visigoths, and fortified by the Moors in the 8th century.

At the southern edge of town, the military school lies across the river from the main city.

Natalie (our GPS) shows how mom has two tight right spirals, then a 170 degree left turn as we descend the ancient city.

Here we go...

About an hour into our journey, we arrive at El Escorial,

Home to Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

We're excited to be out of the car for a while.

The self-guided tour takes forever. This place is huge!

(no pictures inside, though.)

A parting shot as we head toward Zaragoza.

The Spanish countryside is dotted with castles (and bull-shaped billboards).

After an afternoon in the car, we arrive at Zaragoza and navigate its tiny streets.
(Yes, that thing in the middle is a real street.)

Zaragoza is home to Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

Fodor's says "The cathedral was built in the 18th century to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin [on a pillar] to St. James, Spain's other patron saint, during his legendary incarnation as Santiago Matamoros (St. James the Moorslayer) in the 9th century."

Enough history for one night - we walk two blocks up a trendy, shop-lined street to hour hotel to crash.

today's original itinerary