Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where the Streets Have No Name

Ken and Mother of Ken would like to describe for you the streets of the city of Toledo. The streets here have not been updated since the Middle Ages, but that does not stop people from driving SUVs and buses through these narrow, winding roadways. Frequently, we have been forced to step into the doorways of shops, restaurants, and homes to avoid being injured by traffic.
Yesterday, Mother of Ken narrowly missed being injured by a small utility van as she was walking innocently toward a convent. As the vehicle sped toward her with no sign of slowing down, she screamed “Holy God!” as the Spanish gentleman behind her yelled “Mother of God!” in Spanish. It is noteworthy that when a Spaniard is alarmed by a fellow countryman’s driving, there truly is cause for alarm. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.

The streets here are not laid out in a grid pattern, but appear to have been designed with no apparent logic. It is the custom in Spain to put tiles with street names on the sides of buildings rather than street signs as we know them in the United States. Apparently this custom has not permeated the city of Toledo. Frequently, Ken and Mother of Ken wander uphill searching for historic sites and are thwarted by the absence of street signs. It is necessary to step into the street to see the signs (or lack thereof) on the sides of the buildings.

This morning, while having a lovely breakfast at our favorite Toledan restaurant, Ken was astounded to see a truck practically drive into the entrance while attempting to make a sharp left turn from what would be classified as an alley in the United States, although it is apparently a major thoroughfare in this city. This is a view of the street from the bottom of the hill:

Although we were unable to take photos of this particular incident, this short video will convey the kind of driving we see here on a regular basis. Note the pedestrian on the left side of the street, demonstrating the survival skills necessary while walking in Toledo.

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