Toledo, the capital of the Castile-La Mancha region of Spain, is about 45 miles from Madrid. It is a perfect day trip when visiting Madrid. Fast trains from Madrid’s Atocha Station run fairly often. We thought the trip would be a no brainer and walked to the station, with fifteen minutes to spare before the 11:10 am train. Wrong.
Unbeknownst to us, you can’t buy tickets for the train to Toledo in the ticket machines in the main hall or the main ticket office. After fumbling with these ticket machines and waiting inside the main ticket office we learned that tickets to Toledo are sold inside the Tropical Garden area of the station. Someone was kind enough to show us to the Tropical Garden, only a few steps away from the main ticket office. The Tropical Garden is filled with subtropical and tropical plants in what was the original Atocha station. It is beautiful, but all I wanted at the time was to get to Toledo.
Inside the Tropical Garden area, we found the ticket office for the trains to Toledo and other fast trains. We had to take a number and wait until we were served. This took quite a while. Finally, I believe we were on a 12:30 p.m. train.
The fast trains are fast in that the trip takes only 30 minutes. But they are far from glamorous. They look like any other old regional train I’ve been on.
We arrived at Toledo, and frankly we didn’t know which way to go. Being the good travelers, we just followed the crowd. Within a few minutes, we gazed upon Toledo, a magnificent historical city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and perhaps most famous as the home of the fictional character Don Quixote from the Man of La Mancha, written by Miguel de Cervantes. To me, Toledo had the same medieval feel as the Spanish city of Girona, which I visited a few years back when I went to Barcelona.
We walked around the streets of Toledo, imagining what life was like in times past, taking in the glorious architecture and popping into some of the local shops. There were plenty of tourists, but it was nowhere as crowded as Madrid.
We also followed the winding roads to the Jewish Quarter where we visited two former Synagogues.
The white structure below was originally a synagogue, which thereafter became a church. It is known as Santa María la Blanca.
The building below is the Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum, built in the 1350’s. It was ornate and beautiful, and the museum had items depicting Jewish life from prior years.
In the museum section on the second floor, I stared at this table setting. The setting reminded me of the table settings I saw so often at my grandparent’s dining room table for Sabbath and other Jewish holiday dinners.
We continued our walk meandering through the streets of Toledo.
We decided it was time for some lunch. I had heard that Toledo was known for its hearty local cuisine, so when we found Taberna Skala aka Bar Skala I knew that we’d found the right place.
Taberna Skala is rated #3 of over 350 restaurants in Toledo by Tripadvisor. The restaurant was super crowded, and a little frenetic, but we found a table and sat down. The waiter, who happened to be the owner, was very friendly and offered us suggestions.
The food was amazing! We had an order of mushrooms, and an order of squid and a signature Toledo stew called Carcamusa. We had Sangria too, but Sangria in Spain is largely sweet soda, so I switched to wine.
We really enjoyed the lunch and our day trip to Toledo.
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