Madrid, Day 5 (Last day) – May 19, 2017
We started out quite lazy today, getting up, having a couple cups of coffee and tea, and finally getting out around 10:00. We decided that a McDonalds breakfast was in order (don’t roll your eyes). They had an Iberian ham and salami sandwich that was typical of Spain and very tasty. Jim had a Sausage McMuffin, so at least one of us didn’t go whole hog American.
We decided to walk over to where we would be meeting our tour of Andalusia early tomorrow morning. It was only a 15-20 minute walk, under a blue, blue sky, with a little wind, but not bad. We found out that during the Andalusia tour, our time in Toledo is short, only lunch. We found a half day tour starting this afternoon, so we made a last minute decision to go.
Until we leave at 3:00, we walked over to the Temple of Debod, an Egyptian temple brought from Egypt. It was built from 175-150 BC, but brought to Spain much later as thanks for the Spanish help in building the Aswan Dam. The original hieroglyphics are present, for the most part. Located in a beautiful park setting, the views of the city were breathtaking.
Time for a little lunch. Walking a bit north, we found the Calle Princesa, an area filled with restaurants and small shops. Continue on our “made in the USA” theme, we ate in adjoining restaurants, Jim in Taco Bell and me in a Chipotle knock off. We subconsciously figured that the rest of the trip in Spain would be all Spanish food, so we gave our tummies a treat.
Returning to the location of our tour bus after lunch, the bus full of passengers made its way through Madrid, mainly underground. No stop lights, minimal traffic. All cities should adopt this way to traverse across town. The bus comes up for air in the Madrid suburbs, replete with US style homes in communities.
As we are traveling the one hour to Toledo, we are told that it still has the remnants of three cultures, Muslim, Jewish and Christian. Traffic is delaying our arrival, leaving less time there. Once we arrived, we took six escalators to get into the walled city. So glad we didn’t have to hoof it. Once inside, we walked the narrow streets to the main cathedral. It is the second largest in all of Spain. We couldn’t get inside, but the outside is quite ornate, of the same era and style as the Notre Dam in Paris. Started in 1226, it was finally finished in 1493. Now, there’s a long term construction project!
You can’t miss the Jewish Quarter. On many walls and in between the cobblestones, there are tiles noting the area in Hebrew words or a menorah. At one time, one third of the population of Toledo was Jewish and they worked comfortably side by side with their Muslim and Christian neighbors.
The shops carry items with Jewish themes, but there are only a handful of actual Jews living there. We visited a former synagogue, which was a mosque before, hence the Moorish influence, and is now a Catholic meeting place. It was built in the 13th century. At one time, there were ten synagogues inside the walled city.
Before leaving, we were taken to a presentation (really sales opportunity) to see the artisans work with gold wire to make inlaid jewelry, plates and decorative items. The shop had reproductions of Spanish armour, swords and knives, as well. No doubt, they would have been a great addition to anyone’s household. It would have been a slight struggle through security at the airport.
In the end, Toledo was a bit disappointing. It had a Disney feel, which was not expected, making it seem manufactured, rather than real, although it was.
We were dropped off near our apartment, fortunately, as it was 9:00 PM and we needed to eat and get back to pack for our 7:30 AM meet up. Dinner was the culmination of “all American, all day,” with a fabulous, greasy burger at Five Guys, recently voted the best hamburger chain in the US. The place was jammed and by the time we left, there was a huge line to get in. Good timing on our part!
We are now packed, showered and ready for the morning bus trip to Caseres and Córdoba.