The cliché title for this post would be "Holy Toledo!" but I decided to resist. The bus rolled on into Toledo after a quick breakfast. I napped a bit on the bus until just after our tour of Toledo began upon the bus. We stopped at the Mirador Del Valle and looked northward toward the stunning city.
The tour continued over the Puente de San Martin (St. Martin's Bridge) and up through the streets. We passed the Toledo Time Capsule and then climbed the streets to La Iglesia de Santo Tomé (Church of St. Thomas). Inside the lower level of the church, during a mass which occurred above us, we got to see the famous oil on canvas work "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz" in the chapel. This work larger than life; every larger-than-life work of art seen on this tour has really been spectacular. It's astonishing to take in.
Quickly, we headed to the Convento del Espiritu Santo service at Padres Carmelitas. Those in attendance loved our musicality so much that the choir performed 3 encores selected from our typical concert program. Our day has already covered so much ground, but there's more! We've been promised a surprise at a cathedral a fair distance away, but the surprise is apparently a "gift" to the tour guide.
The choir continued to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, a crossroads of City Hall and the absolutely remarkable Saint Mary's Cathedral, whose full name is "Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo." This church had a superbly vast interior with several chambers showing religious artwork, hosting graves of archbishops, and more.
The final surprise was indeed a gift to our tour guide. Our guide had heard us sing beautifully, but only at the service i.e. not a full concert. Our surprise was the chance to sing in this cathedral; we set upon the steps and sang My Sheperd will supply my need (Virgil Thomson) and O salutaris Hostia (Ērik Ešenvalds). Our first song drew multiple tourist groups to listen and admire us. The experience is one to never forget.
After these musical events during our tour, we were brought to the city center in order to have lunch. We said farewell to our tour guide and I got a second chance to try ordering food in Spanish; I made a few mistakes but it felt nice to try. A delicious hamburger with fried egg set hunger away long enough for me to buy a memorable set of wooden figures: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. (Our second half of the concert program opens with songs about these famous characters.) En route to the bus to Madrid, we passed the ruins of the Convento de San Pablo, which was left unused in 1407.
We were quickly off to Madrid, and then to our concert at Basilica Pontificia de San Miguel. This concert was remarkable, although personally difficult due to some exhaustion. There was so much singing today, but the warm welcome of our Spanish audience made the night's finale worthwhile. Our post-concert time was spent wandering the nearby market before returning to the hotel for dinner and an incredibly restless night. Our venture to the wintry north will be worth the lack of sleep!
In love with experiencing all the world has to offer, a trip to Spain is a dream come true!