Tag Archives: Toledo

Toledo, España – una ciudad maravillosa

For this week’s post I thought I’d share our day in Toledo with you.  We took a day trip from Madrid on a Friday when we were in Spain last month.  We got to the train station early enough to get something to eat before we headed off to Toledo about 9:30 a.m. It’s a half hour ride and once we got there we opted to walk into town.  It’s probably a twenty minute uphill hike to get to a cafe where we got something to drink and enjoyed the sunshine on their terrace.  Up first are some photos of our hike into town.

After our refreshments it was off to the Santa Cruz museum where many El Greco paintings reside.  I’m a huge fan of El Greco so I had to go back and have another look.  They’ve redecorated since we were there five years ago and all the art is on the first floor instead of two floors.  There is a beautiful courtyard too.  The paintings here are enormous but stunning as well.  El Greco’s style is unique and I’ve always enjoyed gazing at his art.  I love the long fingers, his use of white and the eyes he paints are mesmerizing.

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon in La Judería which I wrote about two weeks ago.  I hope you’ll check out that post, it was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  We also paid a visit to Mariano Zamorano’s sword shop as hubby wanted to say hello.  Hubby bought a sword there five years ago and got to shake the sword maker’s hand.  We got a brief tour of the workshop where a few men were working with steel and then we were on our way to La Judería.

We met up with my blogger friend Simone, otherwise known as Lady of the Cakes, in Plaza Zocodover at 2:00.  It was great to finally meet after following each other’s blogs for a few years.  I don’t recall the name of the restaurant where we ate lunch but we all got their menu del día (menu of the day) and I was quite happy with my merluza (hake).  I had this fish frequently as a student in Madrid and fell in love with it!  This one was delicious. After lunch Simone led us up the alcázar for great views of the city!  And then a walking tour of the surrounding area.  It was great to see things we might not have otherwise seen.  Come look at the next gallery for more scenic views of Toledo.  It really is so picturesque and we had a nice, sunny day for picture taking :)

I’ve been to Toledo many times, starting when I was a student in Madrid over 35 years ago.  It’s still a very special place to me and although this visit was short, we all had another great time.  If you have not been to Toledo, well, you just have to go to Toledo.  The most picturesque city in the world.  My daughter would argue that with me since she fell in love with Barcelona this trip.  But that’s a post for another day.

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La Judería, the Jewish quarter, of Toledo España

I mentioned last week that I just returned from Spain.  It was a packed two week adventure full of art, culture, interesting people and fabulous food.  I’m going to be sharing stories and photos from the trip and I thought I’d start with La Judería in Toledo.  I thought Easter weekend was an appropriate time for this post.

I have been to Toledo many times but for some reason I never delved into its Jewish past.  Not so this trip!  We visited one of the two synagogues in Toledo on our last family trip six years ago.  And that was not planned.  The places we wanted to visit were closed that day so we got out the map of the city and found other things to do to fill the time until our return train to Madrid that afternoon.  One of those was Santa Maria la Blanca which used to be a synagogue that became a church after the diaspora of the Jews.  Built in 1180, it is considered the oldest standing synagogue in Europe.  We enjoyed it so much six years ago that we decided to pay another visit.

In the same neighborhood is the Museo Serfardí in which the second synagogue resides, Sinagoga del Tránsito.  I was so impressed with this synagogue and museum, not only because of the stunning architecture, but also the many Jewish relics on display.  It was a bit overwhelming!  I hope you’ll enjoy some of the photos I took of the two synagogues.  I’ll be back later with more photos of picturesque Toledo so stay tuned for that!

First a small gallery of plaques in the ground, two that mark the beginning of the Jewish quarter.  There are three of these, the third one is in English but I didn’t get a photo of it.  The other two photos are samples of tiles that are found throughout the Jewish quarter.  I need to find out their significance.  For now, here are the photos.  Click on any image in any gallery to see a larger photo and the gallery itself.

Santa Maria la Blanca:

Museo Sefardí:

To those that are celebrating: Happy Easter!

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Just got home from Spain!!

Hello out there!!  I just got home from Spain and have so many tales to tell!  After I decompress and sort it all out I’ll share them with you.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride but in the meantime I thought I would share a brief snapshot of a few of our adventures.

We spent two weeks in Spain to celebrate our 25th anniversary.  I had three great hotels booked and all met and even exceeded our expectations.  All the staff at every hotel were so friendly, helpful and on top of everything! We had some bumps along the way but overall it was a resounding success.  I met up with several blog and travel forum friends and ate fabulous food.  The weather was not at all ideal and was windy most of the time.  But you can’t plan on the weather and we carried on with most of our plans and had a great time.

Okay, as promised, here is a gallery of some of the things we saw.  I’ll be back soon to tell some tales.

Malaga:

Madrid and Toledo:

Córdoba and Barcelona:

 

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so…….I’m going back to Spain

We are planning to take a two week trip to Spain during spring break next year.  EEK! It’s NEXT year already!! Wow, how the time it does fly.  And I thought I’d create a blog post just for it.  It’s good to have a rough agenda of at least where you’ll be and to have hotels booked.  We will be staying in only three cities this time, Barcelona, Madrid and Málaga, which will allow us a few day trips. This differs from our last two week adventure 5 years ago when we stayed in too many cities.  Oh, it was a fabulous trip, but it was a bit too much travelling between cities.

We know the hotels we’d like to stay at in Madrid and Málaga but we haven’t yet chosen our hotel for Barcelona.  Perhaps there are other travelers out there that could give a recommendation?  Either way, here are two that really interest me.  We need a hotel that is close to a metro, not on the Ramblas but a short walk to it would be great. It should be able to accommodate three people.  Both of these hotels meet those criteria.

First is Villa Emilia.  It’s #23 out of 516 hotels in Barcelona and it gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor.  Here is the hotel’s website.

Next is Condes de Barcelona which is #96 out of 516 hotels, also gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor.  Hotel Condes de Barcelona’s website.

We will take a flight from Minneapolis and fly through Amsterdam both directions.  After our Paris fiasco, we are hesitant to ever fly through Charles De Gaulle again. One day I might write a blog post about it.   But I digress.

We’ll get to Barcelona on a Saturday and I’m really hoping we don’t miss the sardana at the catedral on Sunday at noon.  Or perhaps we should take a flight out on Thursday so that in case we have jet lag we won’t sleep through the sardana like we did 5 years ago. That’s a possibility.

Here is our rough itinerary as it is right now.

Day 1 (F) – fly to Amsterdam

Day 2 (Sa) –  arrive in Barcelona

Day 3 (Su) – Barcelona- try to see the Sardana at noon in front of the catedral; Picasso museum in the afternoon. (Check website for the Picasso museum to see if it’s still free on Sundays and adjust accordingly)

Day 4 (M) – Barcelona-Gaudi day? (Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Casa Batlo, La Pedrera)

Day 5 (Tu) – Barcelona- do leftover Gaudi stuff we didn’t get to yesterday because, really, that’s a lot! We’d also like to reserve at least one restaurant for a fabulous meal.  I have a few places bookmarked but nothing picked out as of yet.  Any recommendations?

Day 6 (W) – to Madrid

Day 7 (Th) – Madrid – day trip to Segovia(weekly flea market on Th from 8 to 3); make reservations at Meson de Candido? (open 1-4:30) or Restaurante Jose Maria? (TA reviewer said lamb is great)

Day 8 (F) – Madrid

Day 9 (Sa) – Madrid – day trip to Toledo (meet ladyofthecakes!! I hope)

Day 10 (Su) – Madrid – Rastro, Retiro, Reina Sofia is free from 1:30 to 7:00 (El Brillante afterwards)

Day 11 (M) – Madrid

Day 12(Tu) – to Málaga (take early to mid afternoon train)

Day 13 (W) – Málaga

Day 14 (Th) – Málaga – day trip to Cordoba

Day 15 (F) – Málaga

Day 16 (Sa) – Málaga

Day 17 (Su) – fly home

There are some things that I want to get done ahead of time.  Plane tickets are obvious, but I also want to book hotels and purchase train tickets.  There is a post on TipAdvisor that describes how to purchase Renfe train tickets online.  It’s very helpful and I’ll be perusing it once again towards the end of this year to freshen up on how it works. There are updates all the time to this post and it’s a great tool. One other thing I need to make reservations for are some restaurants where we’d like to dine.  One for sure is Posada de la Villa, which is a favorite of ours.  As you can see above, I would also like to reserve a spot at a restaurant in Segovia.

So many little things go into planning a trip.  I will be refining this as it gets closer to our departure and this is what I’ve got today just 13.5 months prior to departure.  But who’s counting?? Ha ha.  I’d love any comments and suggestions for any piece of this trip.  Thanks so much!! I’m going to close with some photos of the places we’ll be visiting next year.  NEXT year!!!  Yay!

La mezquita, Córdoba:

La mezquita, Córdoba, Spain

It will be fun to see the progress of Sagrada Familia, Barcelona:

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

One of my favorite cities in the world and this is a treasured spot – Plaza Mayor – Madrid:

Plaza Mayor - Madrid

One of my other favorite cities in the world, Toledo:

And, one last one.  Teatro Romano, Málaga:

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the alcázar & the toledo city tour

I just had to share these fabulous photos of one of my favorite cities in Spain. Enjoy!!

in search of a thousand cafés

Thursday, July 4:  The next place I go on my walking tour is the Alcázar of Toledo, a stone fortification that sits at the highest part of Toledo.

In the third century, it was used as a Roman palace.  Abd ar-Rahman III built an al-qasr (fortress) here in the 10th century; it was later altered by the Christians, according to Lonely Planet Spain.

It was restored under Charles I and Philip II of Spain in the 1540s. In 1521, Hernan Cortes was received by Charles I at the Alcázar, following Cortes’ conquest of the Aztecs. (Wikipedia: Alcazar of Toledo)

The Alcázar was largely destroyed during the siege of Franco’s forces in 1936 but Franco had it rebuilt and turned into a military museum (Lonely Planet Spain).

It’s a bit strange going in this place because it’s just a huge military museum.  It’s easy…

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I just had to share this of one of my favorite cities in Spain. All the pics are fabulous but I especially like the one of the Alcántara bridge. Enjoy!!

Tay in Europe

Hola!
It’s official: I love Spain. The food, the culture, the people, it’s all fantastic! Unlike Paris, where I felt out-of-place and intrusive, here in Madrid I feel like a welcomed guest. You smile at people, and they smile back!
Madrid is lively and sometimes chaotic, so a few hostel friends and my dear friend Pablo (from Madrid) took a day trip to Toledo: the old capital of Spain in the 6th century. It’s described as a medieval city, and yes, it is exactly what you imagine an old European city would look like.

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Te streets are tiny: some so tiny no car will fit down them, let alone be able to navigate the winding paths and sharp corners.
Toledo is a mere 25 minute trip on a high-speed train from Madrid, and only a 21 euro return ticket: well worth it! We walked 15 minutes from the station, up…

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the worst day of the trip – Toledo, May 2010

This post has been rolling around in my head for a while and I guess it’s finally time to write it out.  What was “supposed” to be a magical day on our trip to Spain in May 2010, turned into the worst day of that trip unfortunately.  It was my 50th birthday and the reason for the trip, what we had saved and saved and saved for many years to do. Not only to go to Spain to celebrate, but also to spend my birthday in the city that had enchanted me over 30 years ago, Toledo.

Ah…the best laid plans of mice and men.  This theme tends to come up over and over in my life.

About 3 hours after we arrived in Madrid, our second stop of a two week adventure in Spain, I came down with an awful cold. The next day we had planned to go to both the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Prado, and although I enjoyed both museums immensely, I was not feeling well at all. The next day we had train tickets for Toledo.  I woke up feeling even worse than the day before but we had to go to Toledo, so off we went.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad, just mostly all bad, ha ha.  I tried to make the best of it but sometimes it was just plain hard to do.  So many things were closed, the alcázar, El Greco’s house, and the one where the woman practically slammed the gate on me, the Santa Cruz museum.  I had read in a couple of different places that this museum did not close for siesta. Well, on that day it did.  Here’s a pic of the mean lady who had just closed that gate:

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But the most disappointing thing that day was going to the sword maker’s shop and finding a notice (in Spanish) that his wife (we later learned it was actually his mother, his father and he have the same name) had just died and the funeral had been the previous day so they were understandably closed.  Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men.  We soldiered on, filled up the day, and hubby did finally get to buy his sword, he just had to come back 10 months later to do it(click here to see my post of that trip).

One positive thing about that day was that there are some nice pics from this day trip and I’m sharing them here.  Starting with the newer train station built with mudejar architecture:

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And the windows inside are beautiful:

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Typical streets in Toledo:

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The food was fabulous everywhere we went in Spain and Toledo is no exception. Here is a plate of sausage, anchoa y aceitunas (anchovies and olives), a pork and fries dish and pan (bread), always there is pan.

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The alcázar, which was closed:

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The most scenic countryside:

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Love the mudejar architecture:

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We went in the enormous and beautiful catedral, here it is from the outside(no pics allowed inside):

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And then back in Madrid that evening for my birthday dinner at Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world.  Here we are toasting my 50 years:

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Dinner was fabulous and I wished I had had room for dessert. Alas, it was not to be but I did start to feel just a little bit better after dinner and then the next day a bit better yet and the cold eventually went away.

The rest of the story is that we went back to Toledo the following March, had the best short trip in doing so and it made up for this one bad day I experienced there.  Toledo is a great day trip from Madrid and I recommend it highly.

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