When I travel to one place for a sufficiently long period of time (typically more than 3 days), I like to look for small cities or towns nearby my main destination and make that a day trip. During a week-long trip to Barcelona, my friend LS and I took a half-day trip to the nearby Girona. A 4-day getaway in northwestern France brought me to Pornic, an unexpected little corner of the country where I spent two hours. Of course, when I went searching for Mr.DS in Lisbon in April, I visited the medieval town of Óbidos for a day.
For Madrid, the detour was made in Toledo, a little medieval town 70 km to the south of Madrid. I had decided that I would definitely go for a visit, whether anyone came with me or not, after my oral presentation at the conference. After all, I finished it on the first day, and had nothing to worry about, woot!
So to Toledo I went, ultimately with some of my conference buddies and we unfortunately missed the train that we were originally going to take because it ran out of seats as we were making reservations. Boo 😦 So then we waited two hours for the next one. The trip was quite short, taking only 33 minutes from central Madrid. We arrived and took a shuttle bus that took us from the train station to the city centre, which is situated on top of a gigantic hill. I would have loved to take the walk, but with a baby and a stroller in our party, the bus was a much more practical alternative on a hot day.
On the way to the city centre, we saw the Alcázar of Toledo in a distance on top of the hill. The wheels on the bus went round and round, and up and up we went 🙂
As we (a party of 4 adults plus a one-year-old child) arrived just after 1pm, we were hungry and lunch was definitely our priority. We sat down and had some Toledo cuisine, including the quail dish on the left and the Toledo-style trout on the right. A fulfilling lunch is an excellent beginning to an afternoon of explorations on foot.
“Ham museums” were found scattered around Madrid, but apparently there is one in Toledo as well. These are shops that specialize in selling all types of ham with a counter where people can order and eat. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to experience eating in one of these “museums”, as I didn’t realize how much they were part of the Spanish dining culture until afterwards. And yes, those are certainly rows and rows of Serrano ham hanging from the ceiling. Let’s hope none ever dropped on a customer…
Why, hello there, pretty lady. Aren’t you lookin’ fabulous…almost a bit real!
Without any idea where we were going, we navigated the streets of Toledo randomly, going wherever instinct led us. And thus, onward we headed to the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo.
On the way, our new friend Hsiu-Hsin seemed to have gotten a shot at bull-fighting! RAWR! Heh, this shop was quite popular because of the bull and the set of hat and cape that was available for photo-shooting purposes 😛
The group continued along the narrow streets of Toledo but soon it was time to head back to the starting point where we’d take the bus back to the train station. When this photo was taken, I didn’t realize what it said on the wall. It was not intentional, though it might as well have been intentional… 😛
A photo with new Taiwanese friend Hsiu-Hsin, under blue skies, before leaving Toledo! I was glad we chose to go on Tuesday. We could have gone on Wednesday as well, but it wouldn’t have been such a great idea as it RAINED on Wednesday!
A final view of Toledo from the bus on the way back down to the train station.
The Alcántara arch bridge spans across the Tagus River (the same river that runs through Lisbon into the Atlantic Ocean), which surrounds Toledo on three sides. This was the last photo taken on the bus – I’m glad I sat on the right (literally) side to have been able to capture this – and here ended our short day (more like half-day) trip in little Toledo 😉