On the fourth day of our tour, we were scheduled to do a day’s visit to Toledo. We were supposed to catch the 7.50 am metro to Atocha (from Puerta del Sol using Cercanias train) and then take the Renfe train from Atocha to Toledo, but unfortunately we ran a little bit late and so missed the connecting train from Atocha and had to buy another ticket for the next train. You can also reserve them online if you want. Since the next train was still more than half an hour later, we decided to have our breakfast in the station itself. After that we had enough time to roam around the station and since this is a long distance train (just a matter of 35 mins or so actually) we had to do the baggage checking and then go to the platform as per the board. The Renfe (Avant or otherwise) trains are very comfortable actually. They also have separate places to keep your luggages and stuff and a pantry car is also available. We reached Toledo station by around 9.23 am. We took the bus that was there in the station which would take us to Zocodovar plaza and drop us near the Alcazar. But if you are a group of 4 or more, then a taxi also will be of the same or even lesser cost from the station to the Zocodovar plaza. Since the Alcazar was not opened till 11 am and the Cathedral was totally in a different direction, we decided that we will roam around a little bit near Alcazar and be there for 11 am opening time.
This place is very steep to climb , you will realize when you come by bus. But for those who are willing to walk from the Puerta Del Sol (the main gate) to Alcazar, there is a 2/3 level escalator that is provided. That is so awesome. I couldn’t thank the good hearts for these kind of small small things 😉 We went down , almost all the way and then came back up and went to the place near El Greco (another museum which we decided to skip, even though it was in the plan) for some photos. By the time we roamed around all these places and came back to Alcazar, it was opened and we went for our tour. They allow camera’s in here, so no worries there. But it is a 3-4 level with some Roman remains over which it is built. Even thought it looks likes a fort, the entrance is through a new facade that they have built. In this they have so many miniature exhibitions related to history of the place. We couldn’t cover fully, but did manage to see as much as possible. Once we were done, we thought of having lunch in the cafe inside the place, but it looks very costly with a great view of the city and all that. So we skipped it and came down to the plaza which had more options. We had our lunch out there in the sun (it was slightly cloudy there but no rain) and once we were relaxed, we started our walk to the Cathedral. If you see the map of Toledo, you will realize the place that we planned to see were in a sort of a circular fashion. We started first with Alcazar, then proceeded to Cathedral. It is again steep in some places, actually many places. And we ended up in the back entrance, which is sort of not an entrance because you can see the inside of the Cathedral but cannot go beyond the inside gate. There were some carpentry work going on near the gate. So we backed up and then joined (actually took the wrong turn as per the map) the others to the main gate.
You have to get the audio guides and the tickets in the counter just opposite to the Cathedral and from there you are on your own. It is a big one, and you will have to spend enough time to see all of them. We split up and decided to call each other when it is too late or if others are already there near the entrance, we had to give an ID in the ticket counter (original) for the headsets and we had to go and give it back to them and collect the ID and it was mine that was given there. We took our own time out there watching the various sculptures, painting. One kind person from the Cathedral after introduction took me to the cloister there and showed some of the paintings on the other side and some rooms that were there too. Not all of them know about it because the door is closed, but you can go through the same if you want to see the cloister. I saw quite a few people doing the same. After a long time I got so involved with photos, my friends had to call to remind me to join them in the ticket counter. Once we were done, we walked around to go to the next place, which is a synagogue, Synagogue El Transito. It is not a big one, but has 2 level of exhibitions related to Jewish customs and traditions.
From there we walked our way to Synagogue de Santa María la Blanca, which is much smaller in size and doesn’t have anything inside but the rooms and the way they were constructed.
From there the walk to Monasterio de San Juan de Los Reyes is very short. Once we got the tickets inside we have to enter the Monastery, which is big enough and it was very deserted and quiet too. We can go around the cloisters (one level up too). It had all these different kinds of ceiling’s with work done there. After spending some time there and enough photographs of this place, (the roof is sort of netted there so as to prevent the birds to come inside) we walked our way down to the entrance. Once there, we went to the other side of the Monastery where there is an old map of Toledo that can be found in the ground overlooking the city.
Now the way back to Zocodovar is a pretty huge semi circle, if you see the map. So we decided that we will have some snacks (it was around 4 or 5 by the time) and we walked a little and caught up with a small place near a gate and after a quick bite (a salad) we booked a taxi, with the help of the restaurant owner there and came back to Zocodovar plaza. Now we had time till 9.30 pm till our train back to Madrid. So we spent some time relaxing in the plaza, having icecream, watching the kids (both high school and little ones) playing ball in gangs, tourists taking photographs and buying some souvenirs. After around 6.30 pm or so, we decided to walk around a bit. Slowly we kept walking down checking out shops and other places on the way down to Puerta Del Sol. And then we decided that we will have dinner somewhere near the gate and then catch a taxi from there itself instead of walking up to Zocodovar for the bus. So we went ahead to a small and cozy place near the gate which was the only one open at that time (we also saw an Indian restaurant there but was closed) and I had huge fries (yes, that was my dinner) and after that with the help of the owner again booked a taxi( which came to 2.5 euros per person almost the same cost of the bus) to the Train station at around 8.30 pm. We did wait for quite some time, but all of us were exhausted by the walk around. We could have done a few more places, but we didn’t want to over do ourselves. There was this small train thingy that goes every 45 mins from Zocodovar and comes back after a huge round, but it would again take us to places which we had covered. So we skipped it.
Toledo station is also different in its look and feel, with all those work done in the walls and stuff. By the time we boarded the train and came back to Atocha and then using Metro to Puerta del Sol to our hotel, there is no doubt that we were almost asleep. But had a good day at Toledo which was very beautiful indeed and not to be missed, if you are in Madrid.