Iberian trip II: Toledo
I lived in Spain for over 20 years, but there are many places I never got to visit. One of them was Toledo, a small city in central Spain that was very important in the past. It is known as the city of the three cultures because Christian, Jewish and Muslim people lived there for several centuries and their influence can still be tracked in the city, where you can visit churches, synagogues and mosques. I finally had the chance to go there last month, with the Chinese guests that came for our wedding.
From Madrid, Toledo is an easy day trip, although there is definitely enough to see to justify spending the night there. We didn’t have much time so we just went for the day. It is a 30 minutes train trip on the high speed train from Atocha station and a return ticket is around 20 euros. Get to Atocha with enough time as I thought the correct gate was particularly hard to find.
Arriving to Toledo, the first thing you see is the train station, of course. It is very pretty! Going out you will see the hop on/hop off red bus. My tip: unless you have difficulties walking or are very tired, it’s not worth it. Toledo is not big and you can walk everywhere. We walked from the station towards the river and were greeted by a gorgeous view of the Alcántara bridge and the city on top of the hill.
From the bridge, just go up the hill and you will end up in the Zocodover Square. If you need a map, the tourist information office is located there; they provide maps and information for free. The big, square building on the left of the picture above is the Alcázar. It looks very pretty from the outside but there’s not much to see inside: it houses a military museum! It was closed when we went but I wasn’t really interested in visiting it. We did visit several churches and synagogues, though. The biggest one is the Toledo cathedral; the entrance ticket includes an audio guide in several languages (not Chinese, though!).
Most streets in the old town are narrow and charming, with restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops. One of Toledo’s most popular products are swords and knives made of the renowned Toledo steel. I’m sure it’s of an excellent quality, but I don’t really need a sword for anything, so I didn’t let C. buy one (of course he wanted). Other famous products include ceramics and marzipan.
We had lunch in a restaurant recommended by a friend and tried some of the house specialities, like partridge and deer, among others I cannot remember anymore! But I remember we ate a lot. Afterwards, C.’s friends wanted to try the zip line…
After walking around a bit more, drinking coffee and visiting two small synagogues, it was time to go back to the train station. Again, we walked there, I think it took like 20 minutes and we saw some more gorgeous views on the way.