Great persons, like great empires, leave their mark on history.”
Toledo and Salamanca are both ancient. When the sun is in just the right spot, these walled cities are surrounded by a golden glow, like two dowager Queens basking in the desert sun. I was fortunate to arrive at both at this magic golden hour.
Approaching them feels like pulling up in the driveway of your very brilliant, very regal, and somewhat mysterious Aunty’s home. You know, the one you admired and loved spending time with because she was so cool but also felt like you didn’t belong in her world? Yeah, kinda like that.
I’ve learned a lot about Spain’s history since I’ve been here, which includes the hundreds of years of Moorish rule. But to see that period reflected so strongly in the architecture is still a visual surprise. I am grateful that the rulers of old chose to honor and respect the past, and didn’t tear all of these beautiful structures down with regime changes. I’m grateful that they repurposed them so that one day, hundreds of years later, I could stand awestruck in their presence.
You know everything eventually comes back to a grief recovery metaphor, and this post is no different. Like the buildings in these ancient cities, the life I’d built for myself changed directions when Dan died. Talk about a regime change. Going from WE to ME was confusing and painful. It’s not been a smooth process but, as time goes by, I’ve begun to fill the old framework of my life with new purpose. We are both what has happened to us, and how we have chosen to adapt to change.
My dear W’s, no matter where you are in your grief recovery, I wish you peace in reclaiming and repurposing the spaces in your life and making them your own.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.
This post is dedicated to my very smart, very regal Great-Aunty Doris, whom I would never dare to call old. She was movie star bad-a$$ before it was cool. When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be just like her.
Toledo is the ancient capital of Spain, and it’s a natural fort bordered on three sides by a river and walled on the fourth. I was captivated by the beautiful narrow alleys and back streets.
There are 80ish churches in Toledo, (yep, where Holy Toledo comes from), and most used to be mosques during the period of Islamic occupation. The combination of Roman and Arabic architecture comes together beautifully. I spent all of my time in Old Toledo (within the walls), and if real estate were anywhere in my price point, I’d be tempted to stay forever. Be sure to arrive in the morning so you can see the sunrise, painting the town in gold.
Click here for my Toledo photo album.
I’d never even heard of Salamanca, another ancient walled city, before I got to Spain. It’s a university town and THE place to be if you want to learn proper Castilian Spanish. It has the oldest university in Spain, and the third (or fourth) oldest in Europe. Just like Toledo, the Moorish architectural influence is evident everywhere. And it’s a lot colder than other parts of Spain! I wasn’t expecting to drive through snow on my way there.
Salamanca is equally beautiful at night and if you can swing it, revisit your favorite monuments after dark.
Click here for my Salamanca photo album.