Thursday, March 4, 2010

Legendary Toledo

I had one day at home after my day in Segovia, then I flew off to Madrid again for another 49 hour layover.  The first day I slept for a few hours then headed out to run errands and get some dinner. I ate at a  restaurant that I had heard of in Puerta del Sol, but I really can't recommend it.  I did have a huge portion of roast lamb leg on the bone, and I felt like I was in a scene from a medieval movie.  I took part of it back to my room with some bread to have as a sandwich the next night.

I joined up the next morning with 3 other crewmembers and we headed out for Toledo. I had considered visiting Avila till I learned that it is very spread out and better visited by car than on foot.  The train or bus ride is also longer, so Toledo it was.

I choose the bus ride, over taking the train.  It is an easy connection from the Metro to the bus, it is inexpensive,  and the ride is only 45minutes.  The travel time was once more a surprise, since my tour books said it would be 1hr 20mins.

The outskirts of Madrid, like any major city, are industrial, and not very scenic until we neared Toledo.  The scenery then changed to rolling hills, bull farms, olive trees and villages.  Toledo, like Spain's other walled cities, rises above the landscape as you approach it.

There are city buses that will take you to the center of the town, but we didn't see the number we wanted, so we started the walk up the hill to the old city entrance.  It was cold, but sunny, and we were dressed for it. I had on my best walking boots, and I was very thankful for that by the end of the day.

The entrance to the city looked like a postcard. I especially admired the tiled roofs of the towers, front and back.

Once we walked through this entrance, we began the real climbing.
It is difficult to get a photo that shows the actual perspective of the city.
I tried with one below, but it doesn't begin to capture all the steep streets and winding alleyways.

We were probably lost more often than we would like to admit.  Even with a map, we did a lot of aimless wandering. Within the narrow walls of the winding streets, it was very difficult to have any reference point from which to work.

The good news was that everywhere we wandered, and down every alley we looked, there were fascinating view and sites.

I was very disappointed to find out that the two places in which I had the most interest, the Alcazar and the El Greco Museum, were closed for renovation. You will have to tour them the way that I

This view of El Greco and Toledo is a bit different, and interesting.

Two of us wanted to visit the Cathedral.  After my surprise attendance of the communion Mass in Segovia,
I felt like I was good and didn't want to pay the 7 euro admission fee that was charged here for the tour.
The audio tour was an additonal 3 euros.

Two of us opted to tour a bit more of the city itself, and it's outer parameters.

Everywhere I turned was a photo opportunity.

It was about 4:30pm when we stood on the outer edge of the city and saw the storm that was about to reach us.
We headed back to meet up with the other half of our group and return to the bus station for our trip home.

My advice for anyone going to Toledo is to take at least 2 days.  We were there for 6 hours and didn't scratch the surface.
Take the trolley tour around the city to get an idea of the layout.  This will help you with your map.
Be sure to sample the marzipan, which is a local specialty.
Buy some local honey.
Watch the Rick Steves video about this area which you just need to click below.  It is an excellent video about the area and it's history.

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