Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Madrid Day 4: Day Trip to Toledo

Day Trip to Toledo


After Segovia, I really enjoyed taking day trips to near-by cities and towns from Madrid so I was looking forward to our 2nd day trip: Toledo. We took the early train at 7:50 am from Atocha (trains to Toledo are leaving on the lower level of the train station) arrived at 8:35 am. Toledo train station is very pretty, probably the prettiest train station I ever seen! It really reminded me of Sevilla; its Moorish architecture. The photo below was taken when we were returning to Madrid:


Once we walked out of the train station, there were plenty of taxis available to get you to the city center but we took the bus instead. You need to turn right and walk out of the train station and there's a bus station. Take urban buses numbers 5, 61, or 62 to get to Plaza de Zocodover, that's the last stop and also the city center very close to the Toledo Alcazar, city buses are blue and cost 1.4 euros per person. It was a nice ride, I was looking out the window to get my first view of Toledo. We arrived Plaza de Zocodover...well it doesn't look like a plaza where I pictured as a big opening of space...it wasn't that big but with a few restaurants. We had our breakfast in one of the restaurant there oh boy it was expensive!  9.52 euros for a cup of coffee and two croissants! I asked the waiter for direction to the tourism office, it was just down the same street but it opens at 10 am, knew it! 

Since nothing is open yet, it's best to walk across the bridge to have a full view of Toledo! We walked down to the back of the Alcazar and of course a photo of it first:


I saw the bridge crossing the other side so we followed the way to get to the bridge, if I remembered correctly that I saw the bridge on google map before, it is the Alcantara Bridge. We walked down many steps and even walked through a park to get there! I was thinking urgg wait until we have to walk all the way up to get back later LOL! Here's the bridge!!!


Can you see me on the bridge? LOL!


The stop arches as the doorway to the bridge:


The bridge is a great location to take photos and best of all, not much people during the early morning wohoo!


Look at all the fun we had taking photos on the bridge ;)


That's the bridge back to the train station!


The Alcazar on the top!



After we cross the bridge, turn left and there is a small road to walk down to near the river for more views! Beautiful landscape!




We didn't bring our tripods with us but we found a place to set our camera and have a photo of us two :)


The walk up to the other side of the hill wasn't too bad! However, even in the early morning at around 9:30, it was getting hot! I bought two bottles of water with me and before we got up, we already drank a bottle! Good that we walked over during the morning or else I don't know if I can be motivated to do the walk during the burning afternoon! Half way up:


We finally got up and the gate was closed but lucky a lady came out and opened the door for us! This is Castle of San Servando:


On the Castle of San Servando, it gives a very nice view of Toledo and the Tajo River!


The view of the Toledo! The roads coming down from each side looked like it wrapped the city like ribbons, don't you think so?


Me and the castle :)


We walked all the way, across the bridge, and walked all the way up to get back to the Alcazar! Before getting in the Alcazar, we walked to the tourist office to get a map of the city first! When we got to the Alcazar, it was packed with people waiting for it to open! Silly me that I didn't do my research and thought the Toledo Alcazar will be like other Alcazars we visited in our trip, I was expecting a castle-like but it turned out to be a huge Army Museum!

When we got in, it didn't look like any fortress at all, majority of the place inside were rebuilt! Some remains of the fortress:


This Army Museum is huge, we walked floor to floor, it seemed endless!






Lottery machines? hahahaha!


We found a room, it was one of the remaining rooms and damaged:


We walked out to a courtyard accidentally and found a beautiful staircase, now this looked more like a palace/castle/fortress!



The details of the door: hummm VC stands for...something of Castile?



This is how huge the staircase is compared to me haha! I really liked the two staircases joined into one and the red-orange brick color with the white stones, no need to be golden and lavishly decorated, it's already grand like this!


We noticed there's a layer of nets on the top of the courtyard; probably to keep away the birds from nesting inside the building! Great idea to protect the place!


Hubby from the other side:


I was getting hungry so we walked around to find the near-by exit to exit out this huge maze! After we got out of the Alcazar, we saw there's a library on the other entrance of the Alcazar and it said it gives the best view of Toledo!  Well, I was too hungry that we skipped that and walked to the Cathedral hoping to find some place to eat. Even with a map, the small narrow and windy roads made it very hard to navigate around the city! Long stairway down....oh please don't tell me that I need to walk back up again!


Very small cobblestone roads, on the back I can see the Cathedral!


We passed some souvenir shops and of course swords which Toledo is famous for!


Before we found any restaurant, we already at the Cathedral, beautiful Gothic cathedral!


Weather changed so fast, it was sunny and blue sky and now it's cloudy and make everything looked colorless :( We didn't went in the Cathedral because I was so hungry and also that they charged 8 euros per person admission fee and no photography allowed inside! I would go in if photography is allowed!



We found a restaurant very close to the Cathedral and totally a tourist trap!!!! Maybe that's why I didn't even bother to take down the name of the restaurant! 



Hubby ordered a shrimp spaghetti and do you see any shrimp? Yes very little ones that barely noticeable!


The set lunch included a dessert which is a scope of homemade ice cream urg!!! The bill came to 21.45 euros and guess what, the waiter and the owner couldn't figure out how to use the credit card machine without pin number! So we had to pay cash...our limited cash sighhhh!

 fter lunch, we continued to walk around and it was hard to figure out the direction even with a map! We tried to walk to the Jewish quarter but ended up totally in a different direction LOL! The roads are already small enough and with constant cars coming and you have to really pushed yourself to the wall for the car to get through >.<


We ended up walking out of the center and toward the city gate, here give another great view of the medieval city:


Ohh and blue sky now too!



We decided to walk down to the city gate, The Puerta de Bisagra, to take some photos. On the way we passed by this old church! Love the blue sky and the clouds!



Inside The Puerta de Bisagra:



We walked out of the gate for a photo of the front side:


Alright...how to get back? Walk back up? I really don't want to with this heat! So we hoped to walk on the way back to the train station and hoping to pass by a bus station to take the bus back. Yep we found it and across the Tejo River, the view of Toledo is so pretty too so we got off the bus and walk back to the bridge LOL! We went in a convenient store to purchase a cold soda, hydrated ourselves before walking back to the bridge. It was burning hot that I had to open my umbrella for shade!

Beautiful Toledo!! Left side is the Castle of San Servando, on the right is the Alcazar, and Alcantara Bridge in between!!


We walked back to the train station, not too far away and took some photos of the prettiest train station.


Inside the train station, there are very beautiful lights hanging down as well as the color stained glass windows! 


The old style ticket counters are still there (no longer used) but very classic! It was so colorful too! 


See what I mean by the prettiest train station I ever seen?


I booked the 5:25 pm train back to Madrid but when we were there, it was only 3:35 pm! I changed the ticket to the next train back, fee of charge. I have heard that the Toledo trains are used by commuters too so it was not uncommon that train will sold out so definitely recommended to purchase tickets in advanced!

We got back to Madrid by 4:30 pm and it was too early for dinner so we went back to our hotel to do some research on where to eat. I found Venta El Buscon with excellent reviews so we decided to go there for dinner. From the internet, it said it only opens till 1 pm but the information is wrong, they do serve dinner as well! Venta El Buscon is very closed to Puerta de Sol! When we got there, we saw two menus posted on the outside:



We decided on the meat menu for two for only 18 euros! It was a busy bar/restaurant! There is also a live singer there too, loud atmosphere but the food is excellent!


Our set meat dinner for two! Huge plate of fries, salad, and the gigantic plate of grilled meat! Let me see if I can remembered all: sausage, ribs, steak, and chicken! Hubby usually don't eat chicken in restaurant because most places overcooked them but this time, hubby said it was the best grilled chicken he ever had! The chicken was very tasty and tender, cooked perfectly!!! We definitely recommended Venta El Buscon and we came back twice!


It was a nice walk back to the hotel after a huge dinner! We walked pass the "jamon museum" a restaurant for all kinds of jamons! We both are not a fan of hams so we skipped that but here are some photos:





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