The high-speed train between Madrid and Toledo isn’t that fast. 45 miles in 35 minutes is not that impressive. Although I suppose my expectation of some kind of face-freezing, gut-wrenching train journey was a little unrealistic.
Arriving in Toledo after the very relaxing but slightly mundane train ride through some rather parched looking countryside, we were immediately lost. Well not lost… I think disorientated might be more accurate. However after some in-depth map analysis we made it across the imposing medieval bridge, through the Moorish archway in the seasoned city wall and entered the capital of Castile-La Mancha.
The city is absolutely beautiful. Narrow streets, small squares which aren’t really squares, porticoes with the last supper painstakingly carved above them, buildings made of bricks which are themselves older than the United States and more steps than I think I’ve ever climbed in one day.
We visited the 13th century cathedral which once again succeeded in blowing me away. The sheer size of the Gothic arches and the beautiful gold statues mixed with the fabulous smell of the incense created a very particular atmosphere which I doubt I’ve experienced elsewhere. In the midst of this incomprehensible splendour and beauty, the audio guide, with its super cool headphones, prevailed in making me look like an even bigger boob than I already am, although, thankfully, I was much outdone by the giant Asian tour group donning matching hats and bumbags.
We had a picnic in the plaza outside the cathedral, dropped half a tin of olives on the ground and begged a rather outlandish woman in a small sandwich shop to give us some spoons for our pasta salad, because obviously I forgot to pack forks – I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t forget something important.
Afterwards we went to visit the Synagogues, but unfortunately one was closed (due to it being a Monday…? Silly Spain) and the other cost €8 to visit, so instead we admired the façade, the tranquil garden and all the charming tiles with menorahs on them which marked out the Barrio de la Juderia (Jewish quarter) and headed off to a cafe with a spectacular view over the town and the river where we very much enjoyed our €12 jug of sangria in the 28° sunshine.
Afterwards we meandered back to the train station, down the huge escalators and enjoyed a very smooth and comfortable ride back to Puerta de Atocha station.
All in all a great day.