We’ve been in Spain for three days now, once again doing family things – from attending the nieces’ musical show, to a birthday lunch for Jennifer at a lovely restaurant in northern Madrid.
Bob and Ana’s house is full to bursting with Jennifer and me, Jennifer’s mum and Jennifer’s aunt. And to top it off the kids have a friend staying. So, as Jennifer has an all night zoom meeting on Monday night, something had to give – that something was me as I abandoned ship and headed to Toledo.
Toledo is a beautiful old town built on a rocky knoll surrounded by a river. The old town is dominated by the enormous alcazar which manages to make the cathedral look small. It’s a town of oranges and pinks which proudly shows signs of its Moorish, Jewish and Christian heritage. It is also, of course, famous for its swords.
So I hopped on a train this morning to visit Toledo, in the full knowledge that the projected temperature was 43 degrees. But I had a plan.
First step was to wander round Toledo in the cooler morning. Well… in reality the first step was a coffee. And the coffee came with marzipan. Long-time readers, and those who know me, will be well aware that I adore marzipan. And it turns out that Toledo is at least the second place I’ve visited that claims to have invented marzipan. On the basis of the freebie with the coffee, it has less sugar that others – more investigation is required.
The winding streets and old buildings are pretty, but Toledo suffers mightily from being so close to Madrid. The place is full of tourists and tourist shops. Really, every second shop is selling knives and swords, and the ones in between are selling ‘moorish’ ceramics (sometimes with a Star of David on them to complete the trio).
I gave the Catholic Church some more money by paying ten euros to visit the Cathedral. Sadly I don’t think it’s a great Cathedral – but I do think I reached peak-Cathedral a long while back and it takes something special to get past my jaded soul. It did not feel like ten euros well spent.
The next part of my cunning plan proved a failure. I was going to hit a couple of air-conditioned museums. But I had forgotten it is Monday in Spain and all the museums are all firmly closed. I consoled myself by climbing a church tower for what was claimed to be the best view in Toledo (it isn’t but more on that in a minute). It was a good view, and totally worth the climb.
The temperature was now in the mid-thirties so it was time for a cool beer and lunch. Strangely Toledo seems to have forgotten restaurants amongst all the sword shops, but with some perseverance I tracked down a goats-cheese salad and a cold beer. (To be fair, a number of the better restaurants were also closed on Monday.)
By the time I had eaten lunch, and seriously people-watched, the temperature was in the high thirties; so it was time to put the really clever part of my plan for the day into action. I had booked a hotel, the Parador de Toledo, which has a view of the town – not just ‘a view’, but ‘The view’.
So as the temperature has pushed up to 43 degrees I have been able to sit on a balcony with a view; sit in my air-conditioned room with a view; go for a swim with a view; and, as I write this, sit on a terrace with a gin and tonic and a view. I am feeling pretty lucky.
The day ended with dinner of local dishes on the terrace. The Sun slowly set. Swallows swooped under the arches of the bridges spanning the river. Eventually lights illuminated the cathedral and alcazar. Just a magical end to the day.