25.10.22 — Travel

Toledo with the Parents

After returning from Andrea and Andrei’s wedding in the north of Spain, I’d a week at work to undergo before my next adventure got underway, this time accompanied by my parents! They’d headed over from the UK to spend a few days with me in Madrid after I visited them back in summer, and we’d some interesting plans in mind for their trip!

They arrived at Atocha train station just as I finished work, so I rushed on down to meet them in arrivals. Reunited, the three of us headed to my flat and then out for some drinks and an evening meal, for which we manage to snag a table on a popular terrace in my local neighbourhood.

We had a great chat and a catch up with some delicious scran, but didn’t stay out too late as we’d some adventurous plans for the next day. These began in earnest as we rocked up at the train station bright and early to catch a train to Toledo!

It’d been years since I last visited the old capital of Spain, a quick hour train just outside Madrid. It was only to be the second time I was in the city, so I was sure to get some recommendations from friends and colleagues for the best places to visit and eat.

Toledo’s train station is lovely but not as old as it looks.

Arriving in Toledo’s very ornate train station, we began our journey up to the top of the hillside city on foot. The views as we crossed the bridge over the river we pretty spectacular, but we were soon faced by the uphill slog in order to reach the historical centre – thank god we’d brought plenty of water!

Once we’d reached the top, we began to explore Toledo’s ancient winding streets, although we did soon grow hot and tired and opted to stop for a drink on a little terrace at a bar that came recommended by a colleague. From here we explored some more, all before arriving at the restaurant that we’d booked for lunch.

Lunch was at a spot that had also come recommended. We tried a selection of local food, from salad to pork to partridge, a traditional dish from the ancient city. It was all very delicious and served in a lovely cellar setting accompanied by some artesanal beers that are brewed by the restaurant itself.

After eating, we continued our trek through the hilly streets of the city and wound up at the huge cathedral. Dad was keen on heading inside, so we grabbed some audio guides and headed into the vast space that I’d only seen from outside the last time I visited.

As you can see from the photos here, the cathedral was absolutely spectacular. It’s a pretty place from the outside, but I was still taken aback by the variety and intricacy of the different architectural and sculptural wonders that lie within. The sensation of intrigue and awe I can only compare to when I went to visit the mosque-cathedral in Córdoba.

We’d entered wanting a quick snoop around for five minutes, but we wound up spending well over an hour listening to the audio guide and leading ourselves around the vast space. It was an interesting experience, even if the voice on the audio guide was a bit overdramatic – even by my standards!

The space was overwhelmingly vast and ornamental.

After we’d knackered ourselves out, we dropped the audio guides back off and went to wander around the streets some more. We came across a shop selling traditional sweets and marzipans, so bought some of them from the nun that was working there.

The day was then growing on and we were getting a bit tired, so we retreated to another café along the way to have a glass of wine and a quick snack as we watched the world go by. From there, I ordered a taxi as I was keen on visiting another place that I’d been told was worth the car ride up to.

Even after the amazing cathedral, I think this is my favourite pic from Toledo.

The trip turned out to be well worth the taxi fare, with panoramic views over the hilltop city from an adjacent incline. We spent a good while just taking in the views and watching the evening sun cast its golden light on Toledo’s buildings.

It was only the threat of missing our train back to Madrid that eventually coaxed us down from our vantage point. We made the downhill journey back to the train station on foot, which also provided some cool views from the winding path by the river.

The striking city is set within equally dramatic landscapes.

Back in Madrid, we had an early night ready to spend our Sunday doing some decidedly more relaxed activities. Top of the list was a picnic, which we spent all morning preparing for. I made some homemade ensaladilla, a salad made with potato, tuna, egg, homemade mayo, and a variety of other goodies. This was accompanied by a Caprese salad and some other treats which we took to the Parque del Oeste, a pretty park in the west of Madrid.

We enjoyed our afternoon in the park before returning back home for an evening in – it had been a busy weekend and the ups and downs of Toledo’s roads had really worn us down! This relaxation spilled over into Monday, when we spent our last evening together in my local bar where I’m now a regular.

I then saw the two of them off the next morning as I left them in an early taxi up to the airport to fly back to the UK. It was lovely to have them over and I was now looking forward to the next few days. There was no rest for the wicked, however, as I’d many other plans to get my teeth stuck into as the week continued – but more on that next time!