Friday 6th May, 2011
Today, we are going to do a day tour of Toledo, a very old town located 70km south of Madrid. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire and place of coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultures, as well as the place where harsh religious persecutions were held against the Jews.
Our tour started around 10am and just before we arrived at the Julia Travel Tour office on Cuesta S. Vicente, we had some breakfast and took a walk around Plaza De España. It was 7am and it was still dark! So strange. I am so used to it being light by now.
Back at the Tour office, we were taken to our coach and settled in for the 1.5hour bus ride. It was a great opportunity to see the outskirts of Madrid and 15 minutes before arriving in Toledo, we stopped at a small souvenir and cafe for a rest break. Daniel and I ordered some cafe con Leche y pastel (cake) and took a look around the shop. We bought some cookies filled with fruity creme for the ride into Toledo.
As we entered the town of Toledo, it was like going back in time. The building architecture was old and made of stone and the roads were narrow. The town folk could be seen walking on the cobble stone streets. The town felt like it was in a whole different world. It was pretty obvious the locals all knew each other. There was the local butcher and baker and corner shop. There were plenty of souvenir shops that had jewellery, swords, religious items, ceramic plates and other lovely things. Although the town felt old and remained in its era, everyone drove modern cars lol. It was strange, but pretty cool to see how the locals can still keep their heritage but modernise it as they see fit.
During the tour we visited many sights in Toledo. These include:
The Gothic Cathedral, Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes, Santa María la Blanca, Synagogue de el Transito, El Cristo de la Luz, Galiana Palace, Tornerías Mosque, Church of Santo Tome - The Burial of Lord of Orgaz, Puerta de Bisagra Nueva, Puerta del Sol, Alcántara bridge, Puente de San Martin and Alcazar. Alcazar had a full on security check point- it was just like airport security!!!
Around lunchtime, Daniel and I ventured away from the group and stopped to look at some rosary beads. When we finished with our purchases we turned around and the group was gone! We went back into the church that we knew was the last time we saw everyone, but they were all gone. We walked up the road and saw two other ladys from our group and asked them where everyone else was. They told us they didn't want to join them for lunch, but that they went down over to the Puente de San Martin and so with that, Daniel and I headed off towards the bridge. When we got there, we couldn't see anyone. So now, we were kinda lost, hungry and in the middle of Toledo. We knew the tour was going to finish at the bridge at 3.15pm so we had around 1.5hours to go find food. We crossed the bridge and found a small restaurant. We walked inside and there were two other couples (not from our tour) eating there. We sat down and the chef showed us the menu. I ordered the chicken and Daniel had the beef goulash. We then split an icecream sandwich.
After lunch, we crossed over to the Puente de San Martin and noticed a pile a locks all bounded together. Love padlocks in fact. Love padlocks are a custom by which sweethearts affix padlocks to a fence or similar public fixture to symbolise their love. The most common place of Love padlocks are railings of bridges. The idea is to 'lock a padlock and throwing away the key', but you must only do this if both members of "loves hand" are present as the lock, locks.
As chance would have it, I had a padlock on me and Daniel had a pen!!! So we wrote our initials on the pink padlock (pink is for love lol) and locked it together. We then walked over the side of the bridge and on the count of 1...2.... Love forever- we threw the key into the running river below us. Daniel and I had made and left our mark forever in Toledo ?
The tour soon came back and we were able to rejoin them. We were now heading back to Madrid, but we stopped at another little town just outside of Toledo for some souvenir shopping.
Toledo is truly a beauty old town and I recommend anyone going to Spain to make a visit. It was a long day, but well worth it.