Thursday, April 17, 2014


We woke this morning to beautiful blue skies in Segovia, looked out our window and spotted a hot air balloon drifting over the Plaza Mayor--what a pretty sight.

We had a return train ticket to Madrid on the 10:22,  where we then had to change stations to catch a train to Toledo.  We are loving the high speed trains here!  The ticketing process, however, is a different story.  I’d tried to buy tickets online before we left home--but their website is full of glitches and pretty much impossible.

The ticketing process at the Madrid station is like a feeding frenzy!  There are several long, slow moving lines to stand in, depending on if one is traveling today or in the future, traveling on a local commuter train or a high speed inter-city train, traveling internationally or within Spain, etc.  Some lines require a number from the “take a number system” which, OF COURSE, has it’s own line--complete with a “line boss” to keep order!  Good grief!

Our travel time back to Madrid was only 30 minutes, and the subway trip to Atocha station was very easy.  Atocha is the main station in Madrid, and it’s huge!  It’s laid out much like an airport, complete with security.  In Spain all bags are scanned prior to boarding a train, but it’s a fairly fast process.  No I.D. checks, and one does not walk thru a metal detector--so I’m not quite sure what the point is.

From Madrid to Toledo was just another 30 minute ride, and we rolled into the Toledo station right on time.  It’s a beautiful old station, compete with several stained glass windows and a carved wooden ceiling.

View of the Toledo station from the platform

Small outdoor cafe at the station

The pretty interior, there are several beautiful stained glass windows.

Close up of the beautiful carved wooden ceiling in the main part of the station

The ticket office at the Toledo station looked much more civilized than in Madrid--no long lines.  The very helpful ticket agent was quite patient with my rusty Spanish, and I was able to buy all our tickets we’ll need for the rest of our trip.  Yaaaay--no more long and confusing lines!

We caught a cab to our hotel, about a 10 minute ride to the historic center of town.  On the way we passed through the ancient city walls--WOW!  It's very impressive and quite beautiful, we'll be going back tomorrow for a better look.

Our hotel is in a great location-easy walking distance to everything we'll want to see.  Here's a picture of the entrance and lobby

The main entrance, complete with knights in shining armor to welcome us:

 The lobby:

There's a lush and pretty careen next door with some interesting sculptures:

We quickly unpacked a little, then hit the streets to explore.  Toledo is a beautiful small town with very interesting architecture.  We love it!  It’s built on a hill, so we’ll be getting a workout climbing up and down all over the town--maybe we'll burn off some of that lovely Spanish wine we've been drinking……...

We found a small cafe and sat down for a cold drink--it’s hot here! The view from our table was beautiful:

The rest of the day was spent exploring the pretty streets near our hotel.  As this is a holiday week in Spain Toledo is very crowded with visitors.
Scenes from the streets of Toledo

Pretty statue in a small plaza:

 The Moorish influence is very obvious in the old buildings:

This is the side of a church near our hotel--we are very curious about the chains on the sides:

Close up of the chains--anyone have any ideas?

We are finding that most churches in Spain, at least so far in Segovia and Toledo, are not open to visitors.  We miss popping into a church for a quick look like we usually do in our travels.  We did find one church open, La Iglesia de los Jesuitas, founded in 1569. and was modeled after the Jesuite Gesu Church in Rome.  It was completed in 1765.

Front of the church

Central nave

Very ornate altar:

Matt--we found your namesake:

The bell tower was open--so of course we climbed to the top, where there were some amazing views over the city:

A view over the rooftops of Toledo, with the Alcazar in the background

The bell tower of the Cathedral of Toledo--as seen from the bell tower of The Iglesia de los Juisitas

 The largest of the three bells in the tower

Here we are:

After that climb we were definitely ready for a rest and a cold drink, so we wandered the winding streets until we found a small bar/cafe.  We etched enjoyed a small cold beer and a couple of tapas, mmmmm good!

After a couple more hours of wandering, we came back to our hotel to drop off some packages and rest up a bit.  Our plan for the evening was to have a late dinner and then see the Semana Santa procession at 9PM.

We found a small cafe near the Cathedral, where we had a nice meal of gazpacho, seafood paella and a glass of really good Spanish wine.

We were VERY surprised when we had our first taste of the green olives--we were expecting the usual salty briny green olives, but they tasted like extraordinarily good black olives--delicious!

The gazpacho was cool, creamy and really good.  I think we'll make some this summer with our home grown tomatoes--will be great on a hot summer day in Spudville.

W shared a small pan of paella--it was just OK.  We'll be trying it again at different restaurants.

After dinner we made our way to the Cathedral where we joined the huge crowd waiting for the procession to begin.  It was almost impossible to get good pictures, but here are a few of the better ones:

Lots of people waiting for the procession:

 The first float:

 The last float:

After leaving the Cathedral the processions slowly winds thru the streets of old Toledo, many of the faithful follow along:

 The procession started at the Cathedral and wound through the streets of Toledo, with much of the crowd following along.  We didn’t join the procession, instead choosing to stroll back towards our hotel.

A pretty building along the way--all lit up for Semana Santa:

Recognize anyone?
  This large photo op was in a plaza near our hotel.  Couldn't resist!

  We stopped at a small outdoor cafe near our hotel, enjoying the lovely warm evening air and a great glass of wine.

A perfect ending to another interesting day in Spain....

Tomorrow in Toledo: Nothing definite planned--we’ll just follow the crowds and enjoy this wonderful town.


  1. I love this blog...was fun to see things familiar. Wine, markets, Toledo, paella....outdoor cafés...enjoy...always love the pictures of u two together.

  2. Ha Ha good photo Dave- you fit right in with them white lace collars-not. Beautiful city glad the weather is so nice for your walking tours.

  3. Beautiful and amazing pictures as always. Loved the photo of Dave with the other explores. Wonderful picture of both of you too. Looks like you are having beautiful days so far.

  4. Hello Di and Dave - This is the third time today that I have tried to comment on your blog. My comments keep disappearing! This will be my last attempt.... What a beautiful altar in the Jesuit church. Looks like you are enjoying Spain. I have a self-serving favor.... I think you should go on an olive-testing tour. I love all the varieties of olives and you could try them all out and then tell me about them.... LOL Hope you have a beautiful Easter..... and hope you get this comment.... Hugs!

  5. Holy Toledo---how many times do you hear that comment?

  6. I've had some issues with my comments also- think it us the iPad though- keep trying it seems to go through eventually! Saw that Biker Dave was in newspaper after you left- hope someone saves that paper for him! Happy Easter!

  7. The church with the chains is Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes (I think). The chains were hung in 1494 to symbolize the Christians freed during the Catholic Kings campaign to conquer Granada (the triumph of Christianity).