Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Madrid - Day 2: Toledo

For such a large city, there isn't all that much to see in Madrid, especially if you're not into art museums. So on Saturday we headed for Toledo. We got up and searched for breakfast, which apparently isn't really a thing in Madrid, especially on a Saturday morning when a ton of people are still on their way home from partying Friday night. We found a place called Cafe and Te, though which is a chain at least throughout the city. We had a huge breakfast combo of regular toast, toast with tomato spread and ham, and a tortilla. Tortillas in Spain are basically potato quiches, nothing like the ones in Central America. It was good, but nothing to write home about. 

After breakfast we meandered to the train station. Trying to travel by train in Spain was painful, especially compared to the Swiss train system. But, we made it and it worked out fine. The big draw in Toledo is that the town was at, various points in its history, run by Jews, Christians, and Muslims and you can still see the influence of all three religions as well as combinations thereof. So that's why we went. The train station in Toledo was beautiful!! 

From there, we started climbing. Toledo is on the top of a pretty steep hill, so we spent most of the day climbing. We did have a nice view of the city heading up. 

And of the countryside once we got higher.

Eventually we made it to the city gate.

Then we found our first church: Iglesia de Los Jesuitas. It has two towers that offers a cool view of the city and the surrounding area. 

After wandering a bit more, we stopped for a traditional Spanish snack of chocolate churros. Me happened to get our snack at basically a baked potato bar. As we were eating, several groups got their baked potatoes and we decided they looked too good to pass up. Ours had deer meat, carrots, tomatoes, cheese, and onions and it was amazing! We will definitely be incorporating stuff like this when we get home. 

Next we found the Iglesia del Salvador. It is a church built in the remains of a mosque that was also a synagogue at one point. An excavation team has basically ripped out half the sanctuary and the back courtyard to make some of the original foundations visible to the public. It was a bit tourist trappy for a church in my opinion, but I still enjoyed seeing the history. 

Next up was the Monasterio de San Juan de Los Reyes. It was lovely and a couple had just got married and were doing their photos around the courtyard! 

Then, we headed to the Sinagoga de Santa Maria la Blanca. I've only been in one other synagogue and that was a long time ago, so I have nothing to compare, but this one seemed pretty plain. It did look, however like any frescos or painting on the walls had been plastered over. However, there were these little plaques all over town, on the roads, at the bases of the buildings, just everywhere. We have no idea what they are and my quick google search didn't reveal any clues. 

The last place we went was the Cathedral Primada. Unfortunantly, we couldn't tell how big it was from a far and saving it for last was a mistake. We bought the tickets to go up the tower, but had to skip the trip up because we would have missed our train back to Madrid. We did see a lot of the cathedral though. So ornate and so oppulent!! I'll let the pictures do the talking. 

One of approximately 6 portions of organ pipes! Notice the horizontal ones...

With all of the walking we did, Toledo did one thing to help us out! Shade!!!! Also, us and the hills. 

Our last stop on the way back to the train station was Punente de Alćantara. 

After getting back to Madrid and navigating the super confusing public transit (metro, local rail, and long distance rail are all seperate systems- and none of the tourist info mentions the local rail, so we accidentally took it a bit before realizing what was up) we made it back to the hotel to rest and research dinner. We knew we wanted Tapas but wanted to go somewhere authentic to compare with Tasca Brava at home. Turns out traditional Tapas are just a small dish served free while you're drinking at a bar but they've developed more recently into the small plates we know back home. Weird. We found an AMAZING place to eat though: Taberna Almendro 13. So freaking good. First we had jamon croquettes and they were perfect crunchy bites of heaven that were gooey on the inside. Seriously I will probably dream about them for the rest of my life. Then, we had the house speciality: Huevos Rotos con Jamon. Basically two fried eggs on top of house-made potato chips topped with cubed Spanish ham. Also amazing. Seriously, we will be copying this. Our last two dishes were less spectacular and I don't remember their Spanish names but the first was a round, bagel shaped sandwich with pork and blood sausage (the English menu said chorizo but I dunno about that) and the second was pork loin pounded flat, stuffed with ham and cheese, and deep fried. Obviously after that we went to the hotel and fell into a deep food coma. 

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