One of many shops
Initially we thought we’d go to Toledo on Monday the 24th since it’s approximately 45 minutes from Madrid, but read in our Spain book that the Alacazar (the main draw in Toledo) was closed on Mondays. So, we decided to go back north to Madrid after Sevilla to drop off our backpacks in the train station lockers and immediately head to Toledo to visit the Alcazar. We arrived in Toledo Thursday, 3/27 (Happy Birthday, Kyle!) Adam was really excited about seeing El Sid’s sword and part of the cross Christopher Columbus brought to the New World so we were off to figure out how to get to the Alcazar. Immediately out of the bus station, was a bus stop with people climbing aboard, but with that little amount of time, we felt too rushed to board to see where it would take us. So we were one of 2 couples that decided to walk. With a rainstorm brewing, this might not have been the brightest of ideas. So we started walking and steadily increased our pace to a brisk walk. (I’m grateful we didn’t bring the big back packs!!) After crossing a river, we eventually came to another bus stop and
hopped aboard to ride up the huge hill that Toledo sits upon. Once we were climbing the steep hill on the bus into the winding streets of Toledo, we both breathed a sigh of relief that we didn’t climb the hill!
Usually upon arriving in a new place, there is a tourist office in the train station where we would get a street map of the city, but no such place existed in Toledo, so some nice Spanish woman heard my halting Spanish ask the bus driver where the city center was and she motioned us to get off at the right stop. We decided to head to a hotel to ask for a map and the guy even put a dot on the map where we were. Since our main purpose of the trip was to visit the Alcazar, we headed straight for it. It was pretty much right in front of us, but we couldn’t find the entrance so we circled the perimeter looking for one. At one point, I stopped to ask a security guard where the entrance was and he told me it was closed. And it looked closed. If only we had actually read
the line in our guidebook and I quote “The museum is slated to be open sometime in 2008; check its status before setting out.” I guess, flying by the seat of your pants doesn’t work ALL the time. Oh well!
We walked around the town for a while through the narrow, tourist packed streets. We walked to the Cathedral, but decided to forego entrance due to the fee and continued through the antiguo barrio judio (old Jewish quarter) to two old synagogues. First we came to the Sinagoga de Santa Maria La Blanca which exhibited horseshoe arches and ornamental decorations. It was constructed in the 12th century and later converted to a church in the 15th century. The second was Sinagoga del Transito, in which a Sephardic Museum resided where we saw artifacts from the 15th century. It was a tall modest building with Hebrew inscriptions in stucco along the top of the synagogue.
We continued along, stopped for café con leche, and stopped in a few shops, one of which an artist was creating jewelry in the traditional Toledo style using gold or silver string to engrave it into pieces. We also tried marzipan which Toledo is
known for. Marzipan is a sweet almond paste made into many different cookies or pastries. What we tried tasted like hamentashen to me (For those who know what that is). It was ok, but without chocolate it takes a lot for me to be a fan. We had booked our trains to arrive in Toledo at 1pm and leave around 9pm, but we were pretty tired and decided to return to the train station to see how expensive it would be to change our tickets to an earlier train. Surprisingly, it was much easier than I thought it would be and had NO change fee…..maybe we should tell airlines about this concept! We gladly changed our tickets and looked forward to getting Madrid earlier to find a hotel as we were heading to Valencia the next morning.
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