A daydream of Toledo
Let me take you to Toledo. Imagine yourself…
…Strolling through this small Spanish city. You walk through the windy, narrow streets, legs slightly sore from the variation in elevation. After all, the old town is built on a hill, which served a protective purpose back in ancient Roman times. Taking a break from the walk, you take a minute to slow down. You simply stand in the small street and close your eyes to feel the Spanish sun warm your skin. As you reopen them, you notice a store selling hand-made knives and antique war relics. As your gaze lowers, you see and feel the uneven surface of the worn out cobblestone, which dates all the way back to 59 BC. Now raising your eyes, you may see a Muslim mosque, perhaps a Catholic church, or even a Jewish synagogue.
This is the “City of Three Cultures.” Toledo. Where, allegedly, Catholics, Muslims and Jews coexisted in peace. Hard to believe these days, but nothing is impossible. Perhaps we should take a page from the history book.
Toledo is situated a mere 45 minutes outside of Madrid. If you ever make it to Madrid, the Toledo day trip should be at the top of your list (of course, after exploring what Madrid has to offer, which is a lot.)
If you ever make it to Toledo, here are a few tips for your adventure.
Although it may be tempting to take a tourist bus, try to take a car instead. It will cost you about the same (approximately 25 Euros), but you’ll have the flexibility to create your own daily schedule. If you can, it would definitely be worth staying the night (just one) to view the city at nighttime. When I said it’s magical, I meant it… Especially at night!
Doménikos Theotokópoulos, aka “El Greco”, is a famous Greek painter who made his claim to fame during the Spanish Renaissance. He is known for his distinctive style of elongated figures and muted, dark colors. Toledo is where he chose to spend a majority of his life. Toledo has a museum with several pieces of his work. I didn’t make it in this time around, but it’s on the list.
Another Toledo tip: get lost.
Wander through the elaborate, interwoven network of tiny roads, stop for a caña at a local Spanish bar and nibble on some tapas. You can spend hours admiring the architecture, exploring churches, gawking at the colorful medieval decor, or just listening to the loud Spanish voices echo through the streets.
For the best view of Toledo
This is definitely a local tip. If you decide to take a car, this is a must-do: head to Hotel Parador for the most incredible view of the city. They have an amazing terrace where you can enjoy sites of the historical old town, the river that flows around it, and the greenery of the countryside. Order yourself a refreshing gin and tonic and watch the city transform as the sun goes down. What was pleasant and quaint becomes bewitchingly ghostly…
For another great day trip idea, take a look at my post about El Escorial, another adorable town only 30-40 minutes outside of Madrid.