Some days-weeks-months ago yours truly along with a couple of other gentlemen embarked upon a tour of Espana. This is what happened.
At some point, we left Madrid for Toledo. We took the AVE train (there are a large number of them from Madrid to Toledo). These trains are amazing, modern, fast. The journey took about 40-50 minutes and was very luxurious. Buying tickets for this on the other hand was really painful – the Renfe (the company that runs the trains in Spain) website is atrocious and buying tickets at the station is complicated by the fact that it is not documented that different kiosks sell tickets for short versus long journeys.
kissing and breaking up …
the train itself
Toledo is historic and beautiful. It was a fortress and has a new town built on one side of the river and the old town with the fortress on the other. Walk in Toledo, the old town is built for walking and get a hotel in the old town itself. You get a taste for what awaits when you disembark from the train
the Toledo train station
All we did in Toledo was walk and see and walk some more. The grand cathedral of Toledo is a must-do-must-see place – and rent the audioguide here – the narration and the writing is superb and it tells you a lot more about the place.
I forget what these are called but they are grand
Spain was very rich once, to have built these things. Stained glass windows, imposing cathedrals and monuments inlaid with real gold
Toledo is not all cathedrals though. There is a swordsmith who we met who lets you see his workshop. He had a few missing fingers, accidents he proclaimed when I asked him about those. There are vendors on the street selling trinkets and goods. There was a gentleman, Hector M (I forget his last name), a leathersmith (a tailor is more appropriate), with flowing white hair who had a small shop in a backalley from where he’d hung all the things he’d made last year. There are gardens and paths and alleys and walks with great views. Toledo at night is quiet, interrupted only by drunk tourists or local kids playing Soccer on the street with an empty plastic water bottle as they head home. Oh, and carry a map, it’s easy to get lost …
there was a significance to this picture with a sole tree that I forget
bells atop a cathedral
not all architecture is beautiful.
across the river
The other thing about Toledo is the traffic lights in the old city center. At intersections there’s this pillar in the middle of the street that comes up when the light is red. When the light turns green this pillar retracts into the ground. This can have severe consequences for those trying to catch a green light.
The other other thing about Toledo is that there are a million museums, each with an entry fee of 3-5 euros and each boasting a masterpiece. You cannot do all, infact doing all is a bad idea anyway, you will just get bored.
We went ahead the next day, renting a car, at a place where the gentleman was more interested in his afternoon siesta than actually renting us the car. We ended up with a Skoda Fabia and drove south down the spine of Spain to Granada via La Mancha (Don Quixote country).
a castle in the distance
Somewhere in La Mancha we found the windmills that Cervantes’ Don Quixote had charged. It was a blistering hot day and we’d driven for a few hours through highways, smaller highways and then a little town which was asleep.
the sleepy town had a glorious football field though!
and those who realize the significance of this will smile
we dined at a very posh elite restaurant just off the highway (there is no sarcasm there). The food was not very delicious, well perhaps our palates were not accustomed to it but the place was very posh. And yes, that is a ridiculously bad picture and I do apologize.
that was again, beautifully presented, carefully prepared and totally orthogonal to the papdi-chaat loving desi
though that dessert was so heavenly that my dear friend bent his head and raised his coffee cup in appreciation