Toledo is a pretty small city compared to Madrid. I would say it is like a small town rich in f different cultures and religions. It is a completely different city from Madrid. Would really recommend a day trip to Toledo.
We started our day early as we had booked the 9.20am Renfe train tickets. As Madrid Atocha Station is quite big, we actually walked one big round to get onto the correct platform and almost missed our train. From Madrid, the train ride to Toledo Station will take about 3o minutes.
When we reached Toledo Station, there was a bit of confusion. Our initial first stop was to walk to Puente de Alcantara but there was no signage or directions to lead us to our destination. My sister decided to try google map to google our way there. But while walking along the main road, my sister got less confident of the directions given by google map. And, just so coincidence we a lady who happened to walk towards our direction. My sister decided to use her broken Spanish to ask for help. After 10 minutes of conversation between that lady and my sister (while I was standing there trying to do some guesswork on their body language), we finally figured out our current location. With the advice from that helpful lady, we crossed the main road to the other side, cutting through the small roads and going up the stairs to reach Puenta de Alcantara.
Puenta de Alcantara is a bridge, it is also the entrance to the old city centre. After spending a good 10 minutes taking selfies, we followed the directions that my sister has researched from the Internet. According the directions: ‘after crossing the bridge, cross the road and go up the stairs on your right which will lead you to the carpark. From there, take two long escalators to get to Plaza Zocodover.’ However, the directions led us to more stairs and more stairs and more stairs… We were so engrossed in taking pictures of the scenery that we saw while climbing the stairs that we did not realized that we almost reach Plaza Zocodover without taking the “two long escalators”. The route that we have taken was kind of tiring given that the number of stairs we have to take but the good thing was that we get to see the view from that height.
At Plaza Zocodover, there is a shop named “Santo Tome” which is famous for a type of sweet called marzapan. Would recommend to try it as it a unique food that can only be found in Toledo. My sister who has been eating marzapan for the next couple of days, claimed that the sweet cured her cough. I don’t know whether is there any link between the sweet and her cough but it really taste good.
From Plaza Zocodover, we followed the directions on the signage to get to Catedral de Toledo. The building was started in 1226 and completed in 1493. A beautiful building with a magnificent bell tower. An altarpiece “El Transparente” is a beautiful art piece which shows figures floating in cloud. The opening of the vault allows light to shine onto the altar, making the altarpiece more lively.
After exit from Catedral de Toledo, Archbishop’s Palace with a flamboyant Gothic style portal can be seen. I believed that building was not opened to the public but it will make a nice picture.
We walked to Ludena, a restaurant recommended by Trip Advisor. The restaurant offered lunch set that include wine, appetizer, main course and dessert. The wine comes in a small bottle which is equivalent to 3 half-filled wine glasses. The appetizer were huge in portions. By the time our main course came, we were kind of full. But, we still go ahead with the dessert and it was really delicious. Generally, the meal was actually worth it.
With a good and sumptuous meal, we took a stroll along the streets and I saw this shoe shop. Knowing my sister wanted to get shoes from Spain, I pointed out the shop to her. She got interested and went into the shop. The funny thing about this shop is that their products are displayed at the glass window but you don’t see a single pair of shoes displayed inside the shop. So basically you have to go outside, spot your favorite shoes and inform the sales assistant which design you wish to try. I admired my sister for being so street-smart. She suggested to use my DSLR (which i have been carried around after stepping out of Ludena) and take pictures of the shoes to show to the sales assistant. Anyway, while she was having fun trying the shoes, I met a Korean auntie with a teenage son. We were chatting happily in English because I just suddenly cannot remember how to converse in Korean. So much so for attending Korean Language classes for 1 year!
My sister left the shop happily because she bought two pairs of shoes. I would said the designs that she had chosen were very unique. One of them is similar to walking boots in maroon and the other is low cut red boots with faux fur around the ankle area. The maroon boots has a stylish design and the red one is kind of cute.
Moving on, we followed the directions on the signage to The Alcazar Fortress. To be honest, I feel that this place is not worth to go. The Alcazar Fortress has been modified into an army museum. Unless you are interested in the museum, you might not want to spend your money on the entrance fee. Admire the exterior of the building if you want.
Across the fortress, there is a bus stop which you can take bus 71 to Mirador del Valle. While waiting for the bus, which can take 1 hour of waiting time, we visited some shops nearby. There were accessories shops nearby and many of them were plated with gold or silver and carved with different designs. The price of each piece is not cheap but is very unique. They also have craftsmen sitting at the entrance of the shop carving designs on the accessories.
From the bus stop opposite fortress, take bus 71 and alight at Parador (10 stops). Mirador del Valle is the best place to enjoy the view of entire Toledo. The bus will display the name of every bus stop. However, the funny thing that happened to us was that the bus driver had skipped a bus stop and we ended up alighting at the wrong bus stops with a few other passengers who happened to go to the same destination as we do. The bus stop does not look like a bus stop as there is no bus stop stand to indicate and it is smacked right at the junction of the deserted road. Scary right?
After walking a bit, we managed to find a good place to view Toledo from far. And, we quickly return back to the same bus stop to wait for the bus which will looped back to the City Centre. We hopped onto the bus and continued the journey, alighted at Puente de San Martin. It was already 6pm when we reached and the sky became very dark around that time. We crossed the bridge and continued to walk to Monasterio San Juan de los Reyes which we did not get to go in because they have closed by then. But we still took some photos of the outside of Monasterio San Juan de los Reyes.
We walked back to the same bus stop and took bus 71 back to Plaza Zocodover. The bus passed by Puerta de Bisagra which my sister wanted to go but lacked of time. At Plaza Zocodover, there is a place that sells nice chocolates and sweets. The shop name is “Jacinta & Maria Chocolates”. The owner can speak perfect English and provide great service. He packed my chocolates inside a box, wrapped it and tied with a nice ribbon. My sister bought some marzapan alcohol from there as well and it tastes so good. The place is located behind Arco de la Sangre, in Zocodover Square if you are interested in getting chocolates and sweets as gifts.
After some light shopping around Plaza Zocodover, we took a bus back to Toledo Station and board the Renfe train back to Madrid.
Next post will be on Seville.