Toledo - A Dry City

Toledo Travel Blog

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Toledo has had a lot written about it... It is a world heritage site.  So I was looking forward to going there and seeing what it was like and had passed up on the schools one day trip here because I felt that 1 day was not sufficient to take in all that the city had to offer. So set off early Saturday morning by bus rather than train as it would save time in Madrid changing places.  If you go by train from Salamanca to Madrid you arrive in the north at Charmartín station but need to transfer by metro or light rail (Cercanias) to Atocha station to go anywhere in the south like Toledo.  But if you take the train you arrive at the same bus station that goes to Toledo.  Buses leave every 30 minutes so it is easy to connect Toledo.
 
It is a real dry city - water is an issue and the surrounding countryside is the brownest of any area I have seen in Spain.
 
The walk from the bus station to the historic part of town is up a steep hill and it was hot.  So why not catch an urban bus.  Easy go to the urban bus information desk and ask.  Well about 5 of us waited at the desk and no one was there.  So a 5 minute walk to a bus stop but no buses to centre of town - oh stuff it walked up the hill anyway.  First place is always the information centre, even before checking into hostal.  Went to a main square Zocodover and found the local government building and the information office.  It is the worst I have encountered in Spain.  The staff just talked amongst themselves while we said Hello they ignored us and finally when we did speak they had no useful information, did not have bus timetables etc etc.
 
Fortunately it was only 50 metres to the Hotel and there the reception people were very friendly.  I was greeted by a nice lady who said in Spanish Oh you must be Michael, the keys are in the door when you have put your things in the room I will look at your documents and credit card.  She handed me a map of the city.
 
The Catedral Primada does not compare to the beauty of the others I have seen in Burgos, Cordoba or Sevilla.  In my opinion it is just a confection.  You pay 7€ to see this catedral which is expensive for a monument like this which should be about 2.50€ to 4€ maximum.  It does have some nice paintings and some interesting architecture but to me it appears lifeless.
 
After a short walk the Iglesia De Santo Tome can be found and there is only one thing to see in this church for 2.50€.  But it is a very impressive painting by El Greco.  About 5 metres tall and 3 metres wide.  It is painted on the wall of the vestibule to the church.  It is very symbolic.
 
I enjoyed the Museo Sefardi, although it was hard to find the 1st time across the other side of the town.  It is a former synagoge and is now a museum.  The decorations are fantastic and there is also a museum showing the full history of the Jews in Spain until there expulsion in 1492.  Until then the city of Toledo was a melting pot of intellectuals and culture, combining Christians, Jews and Muslims.
 
Unfortunately the Museo El Greco right beside is closed for repairs and the paintings inside by El Greco could not be seen.
 
Museo de los Concilos y la Cultura Visigoda is a small musem but 2€ for a 5 minute visit was again over the top.
 
Walking around Toledo could be hard and by now I was hoping for something a bit better.  The humidity according to the weather people here was 25%.  Which makes breathing very difficult if you walk too fast.  My view so far had been that the air is dry, the monuments are dry, the people are dry.
 
Then came Iglesia de los Jesuítas and this is so beautiful.  It was built about 1700 and has magnificent paintings, statues with Baroque music playing to set the scene.  It felt tranquil.  Took a walk up the twins towers and as the church is on a some of the highest ground in the old part of the city it gives wonderful views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
 
For the evening the Meson Palacio was an excellent family restaurant, cheap, very friendly and helpful hosts.  Great local food - manchegan pistu (like a ratatouille) and gambas ajillo (prawns and garlic), fantastic.
 
For those that like beer here is my ranking of Spanish beers:
1. Cruzcampo - definitely the best.
2. Mahou
3. San Miguel (Only drink it cos of the name - oh well)
 
Funny thing is the quality of the beer is not reflected in the price.
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Toledo
photo by: ellechic