Monday, July 5, 2010

Holy Toledo!

June 27 - Toledo

It took about three hours to drive from Cazorla to Toledo, retracing some of our steps past the towns of Ubeda and Baeza. One of the amusing oddities you can spot along the highways are huge black silhouettes of bulls. In the U.S. I’m sure they’d have company logos on them. Here not. Just big and black.

Toledo is in La Mancha country, where there is something other than olive trees - we started seeing fields of grape vines all around. On approaching Toleda, we saw some of the famed white windmills too and were pretty sure we got a glimpse of Don Quixote riding on his horse.

Toledo is on a hill and is one of the old ,walled cities. We crossed the Tagus River and then entered through a large, arched gate. This the town of the famous painter, El Greco.
We found our hotel, Alfonso VI, quickly and were able to park right next door. The hotel was in the middle of the old part of town, opposite the Alcazar.

After settling in, we visited the main cathedral, and walked what we thought was the El Greco museum. We paid the entry fee only to find out once inside, that it was the Iglesia de Santo Tome, a famous small church that houses one of El Greco’s most famous painting - Burial of the Count of Orgaz.

Toledo was pretty typical of the old, walled medieval towns we had been visiting. During our stay in Toledo, we followed some of the winding, narrow streets to find tiny plazas and nooks with cafes, bars and stores carrying ceramics, knives, swords and the kind of armor knights used to wear. I don’t know who buys that stuff - maybe some of the throngs of Japanese tourists we saw wander through the streets.

We walked through the Jewish quarter and down to the Tagus River and got a glimpse of Toledo from the other side - a view that El Greco used to paint one of his paintings. But I think he must have gone a bit further out. The view we saw was good but not as dramatic. 

One Toledo’s main plazas, Zocodover, was very near our hotel. It had a lot of granite benches to sit and people watch. On the outskirt of the plaza are restaurants and even a Mc Donald’s. We checked the menu, and yes, it sold wine and beer. 

We often make do with tapas for dinner because restaurants open so late at night. It still is hard for us to eat at 9pm or later, when the typical Spanish are starting to head for the restaurants. Our routine has consisted of having wine and cacahuetes (peanuts) in our room in the afternoon, heading out for a walk and ending up at a tapas restaurant for an (early) bite to eat.   

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