After a lovely wedding of two neighbours who are also great friends on Saturday, Sunday morning saw me bright and early at Gatwick to set off for Spain for ten days or so. I’m flying with ‘no frills’ Norwegian who encourage you to check in at their automated terminals. So I enter my booking code and it is declined. I ask a helpful official who advises trying another machine as they “can be temperamental” – please preserve me from machines with mood swings! Next terminal is having a good day and so takes my details – careful to match my full name this time after previous Etihad experience – and prints out not only a boarding card but a luggage label. This is real DIY travel. Through lengthy security and off to the lounge for breakfast. But no, despite my pass I’m not allowed in as the lounge is completely full because of a number of delayed flights. Not a good start. However the Priority Pass is accept for breakfast at another cafe so complete grumpiness and rumbling tum are avoided.
We board quickly and I get a window seat, stow everything above except the Observer which Malcolm delivered just as I was leaving home. What a fool am I! It’s a lovely clear day and the view of the Isle of Wight from 10,000 feet or so was amazing but camera and phone were in the overhead locker and my B and C companions are asleep. It just filled the frame of the window perfectly and looked like a postcard. The Needles were a bit black from up here because of the low sun from the east but otherwise a great shot I missed. The Channel Islands looked good too. So onward to Madrid, pick up a car and get to Toledo in time to check in and enquire if any TV channel nearby is showing Watford v Tottenham. Negative. Annoying but thanks to Matchday Live on the Watford website I’m taken through the dull sounding first half by John Marks and Rene Gilmartin. Still 0-0 at half time is a result already. Then the mad second half begins with an own goal of freakish nature it seems and then we equalise and then go 2-1 ahead and the vocal level of commentary is such great I have to turn it down to avoid upsetting the neighbours on their balcony. Can we hold out for five minutes of added time? Yes! Wow – I need a lie down now! 5 games played, 5 games won.
As a friend of the Parador chain I get a free drink on arrival so I think this is the time to celebrate so I go to the bar, present my chit and down a beer as the sun starts to slide downwards and lights up Toledo with a wonderful soft light.
I’ve never been here before but look forward to exploring over the next few days – lots of El Greco to find, the massive Alcazar on the right and the cathedral in the middle look worth a visit and later at dinner – sorry vegetarians local venison with some suitable red wine – these were illuminated to look like beacons in a starry hillside. And so to bed ready to explore tomorrow.