I have been blogging since 2003, and I started on Livejournal and Xanga. A child of the internet revolution, I have long appreciated the value of online friendships, and blogging ended up being a way to make new friends.
When Anna started blogging on the international scene, she made friends, too. She put me in touch with Lady of the Cakes (aka Simone), who is a fellow blogger and currently based in Toledo. We arranged to meet on the fourth day of my vacation – Thursday – and she would be my personal tour guide and new friend.
I’ve met up with other bloggers in the past in places like New York and Providence, but this was a whole new adventure. I got to the Atocha train station early on Thursday morning, to try and catch the 10 am train.
The first thing I realized about Spain, and traveling via train there, is that if you don’t speak very good argumentative Spanish, you’re going to get very frustrated. The second thing I realized is that at the train station (and in most of the things that require any sort of organization), the Spanish desperately want to be German. They want to be efficient, organized, and have a set procedure for everything. Unfortunately, they are about as German as I am, and their procedures, especially when something isn’t exactly spelled out in their flowcharts, is far more reminiscent of the Italians.Disorganized, yelling, and it’s the end of the world when something not specifically accounted for occurs. Needless to say, I missed the 10 am train due to my arguing with the ticket lady that I did not need a return seat yet, and it was impossible that all the seats were sold out because they were still available online.
I managed to secure a ticket on the 11 am train, and when I took my seat, it was empty. The only face I could make was >.<, but I realized I was going to a fun, exciting place, with a personal tour guide who was nothing but perfectly lovely the entire time we were emailing, and was all smiles again.
The weather was still less than cooperative on Thursday, though it had been steadily getting warmer as the week progressed (thus the jacket and scarf). But when I arrived in Toledo, a mere 30 minutes later, it was sunny, gorgeous, and the station was even more beautiful than I could have imagined….seriously, the subways in New York, DC, and Boston can’t hold a candle to Europe.
I met Simone inside the station, and we began our trek around the city – the views were incredible, and I don’t know how it happened, but the weather was truly on our side. Bright blue skies, the right amount of clouds, and a lovely temperate breeze.
I can’t thank Simone enough for her amazing hospitality, sharing her day and her incredible wealth of knowledge about the city, finding a delicious place for us to eat, and also for somehow securing fantastic weather. Toledo was by far the highlight of my trip – in no small part thanks to her – and you’ll see why in part 2.