Published on March 6th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard0
We were already frazzled when we drove into Toledo, a beautiful old town in central Spain, south of Madrid.
It was before the days of GPS. Most couples will have experienced a near-divorce situation in those low-tech days when one person drives and the other pores over maps and tries to navigate.
After driving along multi-lane highways with thundering trucks speeding behind us and flashing their lights for us to go faster, being forced to take exits just to get out of their way, finding ourselves lost in small towns before getting back on the ferocious highway, arguing fiercely and tearing up maps… we eventually tottered into the lovely town of Toledo.
We had reservations at a parador, one of the beautiful ancient buildings dotted all over Spain, now refurbished to pleasing luxury and much sought-after as hotels of preference for discerning tourists (us, we like to think).
Into Toledo’s labyrinthine streets we drove, some so narrow our car side-mirrors scraped the walls on both sides. Corners were so tight we had to reverse, inch forward, and reverse again to make the turn. We lost count of how many postcard stands we knocked over as we scraped past tiny tourist shops. Pedestrians had to suck their stomachs in and flatten themselves against the walls as we passed. Pity those with big bellies.
Toledo is famous for its steel. Swords and shields, now made only for tourists unlike warriors in long gone days, are displayed in shop doors all over the old town. Yes, we knocked many a sword stand over too as we edged and scuffed our way around the maze of tight streets.
Only when we had popped out in a relatively wide street, just like a cork from a champagne bottle, did we realise it was a pedestrian-only zone.
We fell into the luxury and peace of our parador, vowing never to drive in Spain again.
Fortunately, recovery was just a gin and tonic away and capricious vows were quickly forgotten in the grandeur of the lovely parador.