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One Day in Toledo, Spain

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After our day in Porto, we woke up early the next morning and headed to the airport. We had an early morning flight to Madrid. I’ve heard that the Lisbon airport can be really busy but flying out of Porto (especially early in the morning) was a breeze. When we landed in Madrid, we took a cab to the train station and headed to Toledo.

Toledo train station

Toledo train station

It was a quick thirty-minute train ride from Madrid making Toledo a popular day trip for people visiting the capital city. We decided to get our first taste of the city by walking from the train station to our Airbnb in old-town Toledo. Our Airbnb was probably one of the nicest Airbnbs I have ever stayed in. It felt like a luxury hotel room in a historic building right in the middle of Toledo and was very reasonably priced (which is the biggest reason why we chose to spend more time in Toledo than Madrid). I don’t get anything for recommending this, but if you are planning on visiting Toledo, I highly recommend staying at Emer’s Place! One of our favorite things about Toledo was how it emptied out in the evening after the day visitors left (much like Mackinac Island).

Toledo is known as the City of Three Cultures because throughout its history it has been inhabited by Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Buildings in the city date back to the 11th Century and the architecture is unlike anything I had seen before. I have since seen pictures of Jerusalem and that is the best comparison I can make. Walking down these narrow, brick roads (where unbelievably cars are allowed), Toledo didn’t feel like a real place. The only connections I could make were to Disney World, either Pirates of the Caribbean or the Morocco pavilion in Epcot.

It quickly became clear to me that most of the visitors to Toledo are from Spain. The only English-speaking tour I could find that worked in our schedule (and didn’t involve transportation to/from Madrid) was one of those double-decker bus tours, so that was how we got our first overview of the city. It wasn’t the best tour I’ve ever taken, but we learned the history of the city and got to stop at some great viewpoints around the city for pictures (above).

Chapel in the Toledo Cathedral

Chapel in the Cathedral

After our tour, we decided to explore the most recommended attraction in Toledo, the historic cathedral. The cathedral was completed in the 14th century on the site of a former mosque. The detail in the building is breathtaking and there is so much to see. We decided to do the free audio tour with our visit of the cathedral and it added a lot of information about the history and symbolism, but at times it was a little too much information for a non-Catholic like myself. Many people choose to take guided tours of the cathedral and I think that would be a great way to see the space, but I would choose one that guarantees a small group. A lot of the groups in the cathedral that we saw were so big they barely all fit together in each area. Look for tours like this private tour with transportation from Madrid on Viator. All-in-all, you cannot miss the awe-inspiring cathedral when you visit Toledo!

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by next week as I recount our day in Madrid! To read more about this trip, check out Cruising the Atlantic to Portugal and Spain trip report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wenesday: City Hall

Sintra City Hall

Wordless Wednesday: Pena Palace

Pena Palace

Wordless Wednesday: Belém Tower View

View from Belém Tower

Wordless Wednesday: Belem Tower

Belem Tower

Wordless Wednesday: Performing Arts Center

Visiting the Texas State Capitol

“Texas stands peerless amid the mighty, and her brow is crowned with bewildering magnificence! This building fires the heart and excites reflection in the minds of all.” – Senator Temple Houston

One of the most highly rated attractions in Austin is the Texas State Capitol. The Capitol Building is modeled after the US Capitol Building in Washington, just like the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing. Being that this is not uncommon for state capitols, I didn’t understand the appeal of Texas State Capitol before I laid eyes on it. The exterior is made of beautiful, local, red granite and contains 360,000 square feet of floor space, more than any other state capitol. The building is 302 feet tall making it taller than the US Capitol. Why? Because everything is bigger in Texas.

I had not planned to visit the capitol building until we drove by it on our tour of the city. I have seen the US Capitol. I have been inside the Michigan State Capitol. They are all the same right? I was really wrong there! This building is bigger than you can imagine. It is an impressive building and has be seen to be understood.

Built in 1888, the rotunda is decorated with a portrait gallery featuring the Presidents of the Republic of Texas and Texas Governors. Sitting on 22 acres, there are many important statues and monuments on the Capitol grounds. Guided tours are offered every day departing about every 30-45 minutes. For more information about tours, visit tspb.texas.gov.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Grand Canyon National Park: Desert View

View from the Watchtower at Desert View

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the desert, I think of snow. No? You don’t? Well, my first experience in the desert was 2 days of rain then driving north to discover several feet of snow. I was excited to experience dry heat on this trip and it felt exactly the same as the air feels in Michigan. For an area called Desert View, this, while still beautiful, was not the landscape I was expecting, even in February.

The Desert View Watchtower (below) is the man made landmark of this part of the park. Built in 1932 by architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, it is meant to replicate towers in other southwestern cities. The tower was built to blend in with its surroundings. Colter herself described it as “One that would create no discordant note against the time-eroded walls of this promontory…The color and texture of this weathered surface rock naturally matched our terrain as none other could, but we were at the necessity of using it in just the shape it was found, as any tool mark became a conspicuous scar on the face of our walls. So we were obliged to select carefully for size and shape every unit of stone built into our masonry.” (NPS)

Climbing the watchtower affords great views of the canyon and the surrounding landscape. The interior of the tower on the first floor is decorated with paintings by a Hopi artist. Paintings on higher floors are replicas of those found in other southwestern sites. The paintings help get you in the mind set up the people who lived in the places many years ago. I imagine if you visit in the summer months, the watchtower gets very crowded, but it was relatively empty on this cold, snowy February day.

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Wordless Wednesday: Bar Harbor Cottage

Learning From Classic Art

For my husband’s birthday we were given a membership to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Since then, we have taken three trips to the museum and it is very interesting to look at these famous works of art through the eyes of a photographer.  So often, as photographers we have heard these rules about composition (rule of thirds anyone?) and lighting (no harsh shadows, EVER!) but when you look at paintings that are hanging on the wall in a famous museum, you see that if you break these rules, that is OK!

Yes, there are paintings that depict magic hour and dramatic sunsets, but more of them show blue skies, puffy clouds, and mid-day shadows. I have even seen some portraits with a shadow on the subject’s face. You post a photo like that in a photography group on Facebook, and watch out, you are going to hear about it! What is my point? Don’t get bogged down by all of these photography “rules” . Do visit an art museum and study the works of art. Discover what it is that makes them good enough to be hanging in a museum. Most importantly, get out there and shoot! Don’t let these “rules” make you lose your inspiration!

If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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