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Published: April 22nd 2017
We left Barcelona in the morning on a fast train headed to Madrid. The approximately 600 kms journey only took about 2.5 hours. The train was very comfortable although not quite as smooth as the Chinese and Japanese high speed trains we have taken in the past.
After leaving the train we found a store to purchase a SIM card for our phone. We then headed back into the station to pick up our hire car. Our hire cars seem to be getting better each time we rent one...this time we ended up with a new Audi A1.
We drove out of the station and found our way to the motorway (autovia) to Toledo after only a few wrong turns. The journey to Toledo from Madrid took about an hour. The drive was pleasant as the Spanish roads are quite good. As we drove into Toledo we were able to admire the views of the lovely old city which is perched on top of a hill.
The first mention of Toledo was by a Roman historian in around 59 BC. At that time it was only a small town, however it grew in size and importance over time.
It was ruled first by the Romans, then the Visigoths. By the time Toledo fell to the Moors it had become the center of royal power of Spain. The Moors maintained control of Toledo for over 300 years. It was recaptured by the Christians in 1085 where it served as the capital of Castile intermittently until 1561. Toledo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 in recognition of its extensive cultural and monumental heritage and historical coexistent of Christians, Muslins and Jews.
Our hotel was in the old quarter which meant that we wouldn't have to walk up the hill...but that Scott had to drive through the incredibly narrow labyrinth of streets. After numerous wrong turns and a few moments wondering whether our car would actually fit down the street we arrived at our hotel. I was able to communicate to the hotel staff that we needed to park our car (despite not knowing the word for car park in Spanish at the time).
After checking into the hotel we went for a wander around the streets of the old quarter in search of lunch. We eventually chose a restaurant which appeared to be run by
two grumpy friends who didn't focus much on service. We ordered the menu del dia (menu of the day); Scott selected the paella entree with pork ribs for second course whereas I chose a mixed salad for entree and crumbed chicken for second course. Scott's paella wasn't anything special and my excitement about getting some salad (Spaniards don't seem to eat many vegetables) quickly disappeared when it arrived covered in tuna.. Second course was much nicer and the ice cream dessert was also nice.
After lunch we headed back to the hotel to relax for a while. After relaxing in our room we headed up to the rooftop of our hotel to admire the views over the old quarter and take some photos.
We then wandered around the lovely streets for the next few hours along with the hoards of other tourists. We eventually made it to the Mezquita (which is now a library). We entered the library to admire the views over the city before deciding it was time for dinner.
For dinner we went to a popular tapas place which had been recommended by our hotel. I ordered some grilled vegetables (this time without tuna)
and a mini chicken baguette and Scott ordered a pork and potatoes dish. The food was good and it was nice to sit in the courtyard enjoying the lovely warm evening.
The following morning we headed off in our car towards Cáceres which is about 2.5 hours drive west of Toledo. Along the way we drove past olive groves, farms and beautiful mountains.
Cáceres was founded by the Romans in 25BC; over time it was ruled by Romas, Visigoths, Moors and Christians. It also had a large Jewish population prior to the Spanish Inquisition. After the discovery of the Americas many rich Spaniards built palaces in Cáceres. The walled city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of it's architecture which is a blend of Roman, Islamic, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance styles.
Cáceres is also well known for it's food; we selected a restaurant on the main square and decided to sample the local produce. Scott ordered a menu del dia whereas I opted for a salad. The food was delicious; Scott particularly enjoyed the fried potatoes with bacon tapa which was provided with our meal.
After lunch we wandered around the old city
which was much more compact than Toledo and with far less tourists. It was a really beautiful city and fun to explore, though we didn't have too long as we needed to head off to our next stop.
From Cáceres it was about a 40 minute drive to Trujillo. Similar to Cáceres and Toledo, Trujillo was founded by the Romans and was ruled by Visigoths, Moors and Christians over time. It has a lovely old city; many of the old buildings were built or funded by conquistadors who had conquered the Americas including Francisco Pizarro who conquered Peru.
Trujillo's old quarter was lovely and even quieter than Cáceres'. We made our way up to the castle and then walked back down through the cute streets before heading back to the car.
The drive back to Toledo was lovely; we took a different route for part of the trip so the scenery was slightly different. We arrived back in Toledo in time to relax for an hour or so on the rooftop before heading out in search of dinner. Our first option for dinner didn't have any Bianca friendly options so we wandered around until we found a
pizza restaurant. We ordered and were informed there would be a half hour wait. Our food arrived at about 9:30 (so Spanish!). After dinner we headed back to the hotel to pack up ready for our departure the following morning.
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