Chapter Fifteen: Traversing Toledo

16Chapter Fifteen: Traversing Toledo

Day Fifteen – Scrambling For Breakfast, Military Exercise, Jimmy Stewart Wouldn’t Like This Climb, Peter The Cruel’s Treasurer’s House, Hanging With El Greco And Friends, From El Greco To El Transito, Monster G&T, Another Isabella & Ferdinand Production, The Pooping Monkey, No GPS Required, New Meets Old (And I Don’t Mean Us), I Want More Marzipan and A Beautiful Rooftop Setting

It was just like home (except for the fact that Kim and Mary don‘t live with us) when on this Sunday morning Mary made us a good scrambled egg breakfast to start our day.

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As kitties scampered along the neighboring rooftops, we hastily ate our eggs and sausage. We would need that sustenance to get us through, because there is lots to see in Toledo.

Walking through Plaza de Zocodover, we were on our way to our first destination, El Alcázar, which houses the Museo del Ejército (Army Museum). El Alcázar dominates the Toledo “skyline.”

P1010034The first good thing…the museum is free on Sunday.

The museum kind of reminded me of the Churchill War Rooms in London…a good idea, but rather poorly laid out. Still, there were many things of interest to hold our attention as we ambled through.

P1020713These are not in order of appearance, but some of the items we saw were “The Tent Of Charles V,” which was said to have been presented to Charles V as a gift to carry on his campaign to Tunisia.

P1020708We checked out the basket in which Queen Maria Christina rode on a balloon excursion in 1889.

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There was an area that documented Franco’s reign in Spain with posters and a bust of the dictator…

3…and his death mask (remember, he is still dead).

2AThere was a door that had been shot up during the Spanish revolution.

5Some of the weapons displayed were unique, like a gun with lizards, which I assume fired reptile projectiles.  This was, we believe, a blunderbuss.

P1020701The Horse-drawn carriage that carried General Prim during a terrorist attack in 1870 is on display. You can see the bullet holes made by the two groups of men armed with blunderbusses. General Prim didn’t make it.

2Before exiting we walked through the excavation site at the Alcázar, but knowing how much Tracy likes ruins we didn’t dally long.

P1020717Once outside, there are scenic views of the surrounding countryside from the back of the museum…

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…and even a little garden.

P1020718As the heat index rose so did our energy, as we hiked across town to check out a church that we had been told contained some precarious stairs.

IMG_2541First I stopped to pose with a gentleman we had seen the previous day, taunting us with a refreshing libation on this hot day.

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The Toledo TI had presented us with a 1/2 price coupon (€1.80) for Iglesia de San Ildefonso (Plaza Padre Juan de Mariana).

P1020726This church took nearly 150 years to build (finally consecrated in 1718) and has a height that nearly equals the Cathedral and El Alcázar.

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The church has recently been restored…

P1020724…and after saying hello to my relative (above) we climbed the stairs.

P1020733I had read, “The staircase up the inside of the towers is literally bolted to the open wall, so if you have vertigo, you may wish to go with a friend!”  Holy Hitchcock!

vertigo-alfred-hitchcock-865414_1024_768Although she actually has had vertigo in the past, Tracy was ready to go!

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It really wasn’t that bad a climb…

10…and we were rewarded with terrific views of the city.

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Fortunately the bells were not rung as we walked around the top.

P1020732Our late morning, early afternoon tour was now in full swing, so we hopped over to the Museo de El Greco (also free on Sunday).

P1020737Walking by some medieval caves…

P1020751…we entered the house previously owned by Peter The Cruel’s treasurer. Some have said El Greco lived here, but that probably is not true, although the house does date from El Greco’s time, and the rooms are typical from that era.  After checking out the interior rooms…

P1020739…it was time to see some of the paintings on display.  The gallery was beautiful.

5AI especially liked El Greco’s painting, The Tears Of St. Peter, who is shown acknowledging his guilt.  I can’t deny it, I looked at it three times.

P1020745The View and Plan of Toledo was painted by El Greco in 1608. Originally from Crete, El Greco made Toledo his home and he was always fascinated by its “mythical Greek origins.”

P1020746In a separate chapel is the Altarpiece of San Bernardino of Siena, painted by El Greco in 1603. It had been commissioned for the chapel of the former San Bernardino University College in Toledo.

5BBack outside, we rested in the shade of some beautiful trees in the historic garden…

P1020752…before briefly visiting into the excavated cave for a few moments…

P1020753…and headed to our next destination on another blistering hot day.

Located within a block of Museo de El Greco is El Transito Synagogue & Sephardic Museum (also free on Sunday).

11This once stood as a very important place of worship for Toledo’s Jewish population. It was very small, so we only stayed a short while…plus it was lunch time.

P1020755The two couples split up to search for a lunch destination, but Tracy and I didn’t particularly like the menu at our place, so as we were looking for another restaurant we came upon Kim and Mary who waived us inside to the place they had found.  What awaited me (besides pizza) was the GinTonic (€7) that has me buzzing (in a good way) to this day.

IMG_2543Served with fruit, this giant GinTonic was blue. That’s because the tonic water was Nordic Mist Blue tonic water. Although it is made by the Coca-Cola company, I have since learned you can’t buy it here in the United States (I’ve even emailed Coca-Cola). It looks like it is only sold in Belgium, Chile, Finland, Guinea-Bissau, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain. Now I’m feeling blue.

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While Tracy and I dined on pizza, Kim and Mary shared a seafood paella. Fully refreshed, we wandered a short distance to our next destination…Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes (€2.50 entrance fee).

P1020870Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes was another Isabella and Ferdinand production…

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…constructed to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Toro (damn, those bulls never win).

P1020765Dedicated to St. John The Evangelist, it was built so it could be used as a Pantheon to the Catholic Monarchs, who changed their minds and are buried in Granada at the Capilla Real.

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It truly has a gorgeous interior (Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes was Mary’s favorite church, I believe). The Gothic main altar stood out…

14…as did it’s stunning ceiling…

15…and gothic interior.

P1020785The portal of the Gothic atrium contained this colorful piece.

P1020760I don’t know who this guy was, but he sure was eerie looking.

P1000929As beautiful as the interior of the monastery looked, the two-tired cloister also “wowed” us.

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Simply marvelous.

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The upper cloister has a wooden coffered ceiling with typical Mudejar architecture.

19According to literature, “the columns, arches, and pilasters are covered in animal and vegetable motifs, many of them also holding a symbolic meaning.”

IMG_2552Like a “Pooping Monkey” for instance?

24Yep, there on one of the walls was a monkey on a toilet (I think his name was Hairy Potter) reading an upside-down bible.

P1020777We wandered the cloisters for quite a while…

22…soaking in the beauty, peacefulness and an animal doing his monkey business.

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It had been another busy day for the gang, so we walked back through town, and although the maze of streets is initially a little tough to navigate, after walking through town a few times, it became fairly easy to find our way.  Plus it always seems like we were passing the Cathedral.

25We stopped to get some wine and cheese for our pregame dinner festivities, and after a relaxing early evening back at the apartment, we headed out for dinner to another recommended spot.

26Alfileritos 24 Taberna Restaurante (C/Alfileritos, 24) is really a place where new meets old. Although it’s in a medieval building, the interior is quite modern, filled with dazzling colors.

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The bar area is located downstairs, so up we climbed to the dining area.

P1020794Dinner was, for the most part, very good, especially Kim’s lamb chops.

27Although my hamburger (sans bun) was a little too rare (fortunately, I like it rare), it was quite tasty.

P1020795In search of another marzipan fix, for dessert I ordered the Soufflé de mazapán con helado (marzipan soufflé combined with a vanilla-bourbon ice cream).  It looked as good as it tasted.

28We needed to walk off our dinner, so we strolled past a lit up Alcázar…

29…and an outdoor restaurant…

IMG_2559…to scope out the rooftop bar at Hotel Carlos V.

30The views were stupendous, but (shockingly) we were all too pooped (sort of like that monkey at the monastery) to even have a cocktail.  We wanted to return the following night, but sadly the rooftop is closed on Monday.

31It was back to the apartment for some well-deserved sleep. Our final day in Toledo would be no less hectic with a trip to the stupendous cathedral, a quick stop to a marzipan store, another couple of churches, a second synagogue, a Mezquita and a very cool art gallery featuring even more El Greco paintings.  I would also take a late afternoon walk, while the others (wisely) rested up before our mini-train tour of Toledo.

Next: Day Sixteen – The Corpus Christi Effect, Sensational Sacristy, Marzipan Central, Another San Salvador Trip, Are These Guys Going To Kill Us, An Interesting Synagogue, Hey We’ll Open this Place For you Guys, Sol Searching, A Surprisingly Great Museum, A Bridge Too Far, Where’s That Damn Escalator, Choo Choo Through Toledo, Remarkable View, How Come All Our Walks Are Uphill, The Last Table and Don’t I Get To Eat, Too

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