What do you do when you have a day in Madrid? Catch a train to Toledo of course. And it’s not as if there is nothing to see in Madrid either. Why head to Toledo then? Well it’s only 30 minutes by fast train (not high speed rapid train) and Val has visited here a few times as she thinks it is her favourite town. So it was an early start and off the navigate the underground Metro to get us to the right station to catch the Renfe train. Mission completed successfully as we didn’t go the wrong way or miss the stops – Val does have a reputation with the Metro you know.
OMG, Toledo is a tourist town with a capital T. I have heard more Australian accents today than I have in my last three weeks. However, Aussies are by far out numbered by Americans when it comes to train travel to Toledo. But the tour groups! Bus loads of them flood in with a large number from Korea/Japan (? which), Spain and who knew where else. Don’t get stuck behind a group when your own personal tour guide who knows the maze of streets from her previous visits, as you will be separated from said personal guide with the risk of never seeing her again.
Off around the streets I faithfully trotted by behind Personal Tour Guide. “The tourist route goes this way so we will just duck down here and go down this street and it will bring us out by the ……” Two minutes later I was told “Oh, we’re not where I thought we were. Never mind, we are here (she says pointing to our position locator on GPS) so how ’bout we carry on down here and then we will get to …….” Off I trot. Personal Tour Guide had to be very patient as I was working hard in my capacity as Expedition Photographer.
First stop the Cathedral of course. Shock horror as it was 8 euros to go in. Supposedly you weren’t allowed to take photos in there but I think the security guards had long given up on enforcing that one. As those who have traveled to Europe before know, it doesn’t take long before Cathedral Fatigue sets in. Yet another one with massive long tall halls that turn people into mere spots, more golden altars, more chapels some creepy some not. What was different about this Cathedral was the absolute hotch potch of different styles. It seemed obvious that different chapels had been built at different times when different styles were all the rage. But a photographers work is never done so of course there is photographic evidence of the visit.
After waiting for me to scout out the Cathedral, Personal Tour Guide led the way forward. “Oh, we’re not where I thought we were. Never mind, we are here (she says pointing to our position locator on GPS) so how ’bout we carry on down here and then we will get to the old Jewish Quarter” Off I trot. Once again, Personal Tour Guide had to be very patient as I was working hard in my capacity as Expedition Photographer. There were laneways, doors and cats that needed my attention.
I knew we arrived in the Jewish Quarter for if you looked down it was obvious. I went into the old synagogue as I have never been in one before. But very different to the extravagant ornateness of Catholisim.
Next stop Personal Tour Guide had on the itinerary as the best eating house in town. “Hmm, if we go right here, turn left at that next corner it should get us into the right street. Oh Ok. We will get to the main square again and I will be able to find my way from that central point.” Once again I followed stopping for Kodak moments which were aplenty as Toledo had had a massive Corpus Christi Festival on Sunday and this place went all out in decorating the streets. look closely and you will, see Personal Tour Guide striding forth leading the way.
After one ‘false start’ I heard we had arrived at our destination. It was so hot (37 degrees), I was very happy to have arrived. And a very yummy lunch it was too. Some of the nicest food I’ve had in Spain. Quite a funky place too.
Tummies full and parched throats relieved it was time to hits the streets again as we had a return train to catch. Of course, I had to stop for the scenic views of Toledo – the old part across the river and the new parts looking quite colourless in the blazing hot afternoon sun.
Did I like Toledo? yes but a few hours there really isn’t enough. I think you need to spend a few days there to really explore this fascinating medieval town up on the hill and the newer parts on the flat. It has a long history of being occupied by the Romans, the Visigoths, the Moors, and the Christians. And what was the best part, not knowing the right way of course and getting off the tourist trail. That’s actually what I like to best so Personal Tour Guide did an excellent job. I won’t relieve her of her duties tomorrow until night.
One last thing to add, the streets of Toledo are hilly. Perhaps Personal Tour Guide and Expedition Photographer should have stolen this little car to save our legs from the hills. Me driving in the front seat and Tour Guide in the back reading the GPS issuing instructions. “Left at the next corner. Jane I said left. Christ when will you ever learn which side left is! L for left. It’s on this side! Now turn left at the next corner.”