Madrid, Spain, Sunday Morning, August 25th
I think there must be a lot of people with hangovers in Madrid today judging by the noise that was still emanating from the street at 4am. We are near the Puerta del Sol plaza and even at the relatively early hour of 8:30pm it was wild, which protestors (animal rights or the environment I think or both) chanting, street artists performing, music blasting.. I had to go to get a new SIM card for my phone (out of a vending machine basically…easy and inexpensive and lots of data) and had to dodge people right and left. My room is just above a street a block from the plaza and all night long there was music, singing, etc. It stopped I think around 5am.
We took the fast train to Toledo from the Atocha station in Madrid, walking distance from our apartment. It took about 30 minutes but one needs to arrive a little earlier as there’s security to go through. And liquids (open ones anyway, such as a cup of coffee or tea) aren’t allowed through. Bottles of water are though. Tracey and Susan had their tea and coffee confiscated. The Toledo train station was very pretty inside and out.
But Toledo…it really is Holy Toledo, filled with churches and a monastery. It’s also a world heritage site. The old town is partially walled, dominated by the church, the Alcazar (palace, now a museum) and monastery. There are lots of other churches sprinkled throughout the city. Toledo has narrow, cobblestones streets lined with plastered and stone buildings with shuttered windows and barrel tiled roofs. Even in the midday sun, many of the streets are so narrow that they were shady and cool.
We visited the magnificent Gothic cathedral, again built, as many in Spain seem to be, over the site of a mosque. The Toledo Cathedral has a beautiful choir with carved seats and two organs, one much more ornately decorated than the other. The high alter was even more beautiful I think than the Seville Cathedral, which I didn’t think possible and also tells the story of Christ from the birth to the crucification. There’s also a painting gallery which has 19 Goya paintings, like a mini Prado. We spent over an hour looking around.
We also went into the Alcazar, which is now a military museum. It was interesting but not a highlight of Toledo. It’s built over the remains of the Roman fort that was there and part of the cistern (water system) is still visible inside, and the views were good.
After lunch we went to the Goya museum and house. The house was typical of the times with an interior courtyard surrounded by rooms on the ground and first floors and of course there were more Goya paintings there.
We did a bit of souvenir shopping…Toledo is famous for its metal works, swords, knives and leather. So now I have a letter opener that looks like a sword..not made of silver though.
After the Goya visit I went one way and Tracey, Susan and Tim went another. One thing the guidebooks said was to wander the streets of the old town and get lost…I didn’t mean to get lost but at one point I walked down a narrow street and ended up in at a dead end…I did get lost.
I left the old city after that, walked to the train station to get a taxi to take me around to a viewing point I was searching for. I was going to walk there but ran out of time for that. The taxi driver took me to the Mirador del Valle and various other spots to see the city from afar which was great.
We all met up at the train station and returned to Madrid. Today we’ll wander around the city on our last day here.
Robin left yesterday at 3:30am and just got home around 8:30 am Madrid time to California. So our party of six is now scattered to three continents!