Day 5 - Madrid/Toledo

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Europe » Spain
December 4th 2017
Published: December 6th 2017
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Today we decide to head out of Madrid to Toledo the old capital. The day starts with a lot of complaining about us deciding to let Constance and Gus sleep in without consulting them. Becs and I decided to aim for a later train. We walked down to Atochi the main station which was a great walk as it is probably the first time we've been in real residential areas. We were aiming for a 9.20 train and we passed a big school with parents and kids milling around. At the station the whole ticket thing proved easier than anticipated, although it was reserved seating and we had to book our return train without really knowing how long we would spend in Toledo. What proved more complicated than expected was getting coffees and bodillos. We have analysed the performance of most of our café interactions and some have been very good. This wasn't. It seems to me that if you are going to run a café in a busy railway station you should get your system down pat. We have decided that division of labour is the way to go. 1 person taking orders, 1 person doing coffees and 1 person doing food. Not here, instead multi-tasking is the way to go. I get stressed at the best of times and as the crew fought over the espresso machine and the toaster the clock edged towards 9.20. We didn't have enough time to sit down and had to rush for the gates. Who would have figured on baggage scanning, although done in a fairly typical Spanish way? The security guy made me take my jacket and belt off but the coffee and the bag of food was all good. We ran for the train and made it. They were possibly waiting for us as we were the only passengers. Luckily we were able to find our reserved seating.

We arrived at Toledo and after a bit of stuffing around and another Performance Review from the kids driven by dissatisfaction with the amount of planning done for the Toledo trip we walked into the town. The old town sits on a hill, it is walled and has a number of old bridges that span the river below. There is a pretty steep climb to the town centre. Constance is once again chief navigator as no one else will do it due to the risk of criticism. I got a little testy, probably due to the long climb and the red wine last night and had a dummy spit about the lack of planning. We sat down and had a coffee and I managed to pull myself together.

Even though it was after 10 the town was still just setting up. We walked through the winding, cobbled streets and then we came across a Ferreteria. I could hardly contain my excitement. I've always had a soft spot for ferrets, in fact the kid's nanny, Jenny, used to have one. Unfortunately the Ferreteria was still closed but I marked it on the map. Constance successfully guided us straight to the zip line which I wasn't sure was on the original itinerary. So basically a couple of blokes wearing red overalls with name tags have strung a steel cable from the town walls across the river to the other side. Becs and I decided that we'd do the photos as Constance and Gus "zipped" across. Constance then guided us to the Monastry which was a lovely building with an internal courtyard, the El Greco Museum (which was of course closed although it was supposed to be closed on Monday). Gus wanted to know why it was closed on Monday and why it just wouldn't be open every day. He is too young to have the secrets of European museums revealed to him so we waffled on about labour costs and resting the exhibits. He's not convinced. The Torture Museum was also closed. All these closed museums had been very tiring so we decided to have lunch. We wandered around looking for a suitable restaurant. We made the schoolboy error. Never eat, especially in a tourist area, anywhere unless you've researched. Also don't eat at places that have signs that say "OK Paella". Why not "Really good Paella:" or "Excellent Paella? Anyway we had a pretty average lunch, but we managed to resist the foodstalls outside the cathedral which were bound to be rubbish. By this time the town was alive and there is nothing better than watching a guy in a Landcruiser negotiating a narrow medieval laneway.

We went into the Cathedral. I've seen a lot of Cathedrals in my time but this one is right up there. It was huge and loaded with gold leaf, religious paintings like the Disrobing of Christ by El Greco, the works. The highlights was the amazing gold monstrance (obviously with this audience I won't need to go into detail). Actually it's a big gold thing that they carried around at festivals etc. It was bought from Queen Isabel's estate by the Bishop. It is a very complicated affair but apparently all the pieces are coded like an Airfix model so it can be easily put together. We checked out the Ferretaria but it was still closed. Checked out the Mosque which was built over an old Roman road. Everyone was in Spain at some stage. We then made our way to the Naval Museum. Have I mentioned I love a Naval Museum, not quite as exciting as the Ferreteria but close? It was closed. The sign said nothing that indicated it closed on Monday the DMC at work.

This had shortened our stay a little so we walked back to the train station without a ferret in sight. Generally my experience is that changing a train reservation at a Spanish train station would be similar to splitting the atom. Being the coward that I am we sent Becs in and watched through the window. Gus said it looked hopeful as he was tapping on the keyboard. Ha my son this is the oldest ploy in the book. You tap at the keyboard and look intently at the screen for about 3 minutes and then "imposible". Actually he changed it.

Given there is no siesta we decided on a whole new strategy for dinner. Instead of waiting till 10pm we were just going to eat when we felt like it. So we headed out to a local tapas bar (Lamiak) at 6.30 had a few wines and tapas and were safely in bed at 8.30.

BTW I haven't talked about the Chicken shop. Across the road from us is a chicken shop and there has been no sign of movement or chickens for our entire stay. Yesterday it was open. People were queued up outside getting yellow plastic bags from a window out the front. Clearly a drug operation!


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