Toledo, Spain

For a little weekend excursion, we took the metro to the main train station where the high speed trains leave (Atocha Renfe). We arrived in Toledo at 9:30am. It was only a 30 minute ride by high speed train from Madrid. We tried to get money from the ATM at the train station because we were running low on EURO but it spit out a slip saying it couldn’t connect with our bank. Thankfully we had just enough EURO to pay for the cab ride to our hotel which was across the river from the Old City of Toledo.

The staff at the hotel did not speak much English but we managed, thankfully they had a room ready for us even that early in the morning! Not sure if we just got lucky or upgraded due to our Marriott “gold” status but we got an amazing room that had a huge balcony and views of the town. We put away our things and headed out to town. The front desk told us it was a 20 min walk to the city centre or the bus comes every hour. Since at this point it was 10:10 we decided just to head into town on foot. We cross the Puente de San Martin and stopped on the other side to check out our Madrid guidebook for the Toledo recommendations.

The top recommended site was the Cathedral de Toledo (Sacristia de la Catedral). We stopped at a bakery Benipan for a loaf of freshly baked bread. When we got to the cathedral, they didn’t take tarjetas (cards) so we had to find an ATM. This was an adventure that would have been simplified if we new more Spanish. Turns out there was an ATM super close to where we were but we ended up finding another one not terribly far away. We headed back to the Cathedral and spent a few hours with the audio tour taking in the sight.

It wasn’t quite lunch time by Spanish standards (they normally eat lunch around 1:30 or 2 pm). So we headed to see the Alcazar Museo, it is a is a stone fortification located in the highest part of  the city. It was used as a Roman palace in the 3rd century, it was restored in the 1540s. Now it has been turned the inside into a military museo so we were’t too sure we would know what we were looking at so we enjoyed the architecture from outside. We walked around a bit in the highest point of the city and then decided we needed some lunch!

We ate lunch outside at a resturant called D Diego Meson. Across Spain they have menu del dia (menu of the day) where you can get two courses, a drink, and dessert for 10 or 11 EUR. This was the case here as well. It was Dustin’s first experience with this since he got take out (para lavar) each day so it was quicker with his work group. Dustin had Paella for his first dish and Carcamusas for his main course which is a Toledo speciality. I had the Ensalada Mixta and Pollo asado. All dishes were very yummy, seemed more flavorful than the dishes in many of the places in Madrid. While the food has been very good, I’m am desparately longing for some steamed veggies or even just some green beans, ha! The sides here are mostly potato or rice based. Or peppers/tomatoes/eggplant but not very many greens at all.

After lunch we roamed the city a little bit, it started to get more crowded as tour buses from Madrid rolled in. We did some shopping on a Calle de Comercio and found the Calle de Toledo Ohio street! Toledo is famous for swords and gold/silver jewelry. Swords were everywhere, not sure how all of these folks are getting them home with TSA and customs, ha! We stopped in a store that has a craftsman making the jewelry. It was cool to see how much of an intricate process it is to appreciate all the jewelry we saw everywhere! Another thing Toledo is famous for is Marzipan. This is a confection of mainly sugar or honey and almond meal or almond extract. There is some controversy where it may have orginiated some history links it back to Persia but it previously was known as Postre Regio around 150 during the reign of Alfonzo VII. Almonds have to be at least 50% of the total weight and today under EU law marzipan must have a minimium of 14% almond oil. We sampled a few marzipan cookies in one store and it is yummy!

We headed towards El Greco’s museum but again we aren’t artists so without a tour telling us what we were looking at we weren’t sure it would be worth the money, later we found it out it was free after 2pm…should have gone in!  But instead we watched a tennis match for a minute, it was some form of tennis that was a cross between tennis and racquetball because they could play the ball off the wall. We went back to the bakery to get a loaf of bread for breakfast for the next day but it was closed so we added an an extra half mile to the day’s count! We took the escalator down from old town and walked around for a few minutes and then got a cab back to our hotel.

We relaxed for a few hours on our porch, chatted with Kenley and I took a bath! I got some bath salts in a store nearby and I think this helped me so much not be as sore from all the climbing on those streets the next day!

We probably could have gone out to sleep without dinner but we saw there was a restaurant within few minutes walk of us that had high marks on Trip Advisor called Restaurante Hiebabuena. Our server was such a sweet girl that knew about as much english as we knew spanish so that was fun, but it was cute especially at the end were we couldn’t figure out she was asking to see Dustin’s ID for the credit card, we had a good laugh! She was teaching us new words too. I didn’t do a great job here about telling them I was dairy/egg free so I probably had both in the course of this meal and didn’t feel so well in the morning, but oh well it was delicious. I’ll get back on track in a few days!

It was funny that the menu translated parts of the dish and not the whole name. For example Risotto de seats “deconstruido” was listed as mushroom risotto underneath in the english. Sounded good but then when it came out it was like mashed potatoes, gravy, and puffed rice on top. It was amazing but totally not what we expected we get the “deconstruido” part! We also had Crepes de puerros y gambas (crepes with leeks and prawns), Rollitos de carpaccio de presa rellenos de aceitunas negras, tomatoes secos, albahaca y parmesan con vinegreta de fresas (super yummy salmon type meat stuffed with black olives sun dried tomomatoes, parmesan, basil, and strawberry vinaigrette). Dustin choose the Brownie de Marzipan since we were in the town were Marzipan is famous! It was not at all a chocolate brownie, I had a few bites since I already busted my current diet restrictions. It’s been really hard to avoid some of the things I need to avoid right now to heal my gut!

We headed back to our hotel and caught a glimpse of the old city all lite up! Toledo was a fun place and a great place to go for the day. Highly recommend a day trip or an overnight stay here if you are going to Madrid!

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