Our Spain journey continues! After three days in Madrid, we rented our car and drove a short hour to the historical town of Toledo. One word for Toledo – dreamy.
Our one night in Toledo might have been the most memorable of the trip. The city is just an hour from Madrid so it’s an easy stop to make. The relative modernity of Madrid is in stark contrast to Toledo, which is a complete step back in time. The small walled city of Toledo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The uneven brick streets are narrow and wind around in a maze (really fun to drag a suitcase around, not 😊). Incredibly, locals drive cars through the narrow “streets” with like 8 inches of clearance on each side (no tourist cars allowed).
The city’s history is amazing – and its called the “City of the Three Cultures” for the cultural influences of Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Its history starts well before the Roman Empire. It also has a huge Gothic Cathedral called “The cathedral of Toledo” is one of the three 13th-century High Gothic cathedrals in Spain. Building began in 1226 under the rule of Ferdinand the III. Its also beautifully lit up at night. Toledo also has the Puente de Alcántara, a Roman arch bridge spanning the Tagus River – cool!
The parking situation was definitely the biggest challenge! Tourists have to park in certain areas and those areas are precariously steep. With a stick shift, Dave was definitely sweating as he tried to parallel park).
I booked an AirBnB that was definitely our most unique of the trip. Billed as “The Cave of Toledo” it was an apartment that had been renovated but left the ancient brick arches inside. The kids thought it was so cool. It was damp and musty inside, but with the heat outside, it was a nice respite.
With just a day to explore we mostly just walked around the city streets and found lunch in the main square. A friend recommended a Michelin starred restaurant that she had been to and declared we must go to! So I booked it several months in advance. (Its called Meson La Orza in case anyone wants to book it http://restaurantelaorza.com/en). We warned our kids that it was going to be a long, long dinner (no complaining allowed!).
We got dressed up and made our way down to the restaurant. The sun set very late in July so even at 8 pm it was still light out. We explored a park across the street that looked out over the river. By 8:30 (our reservations were at 8 – very Spain 😉) the restaurant opened and we were the first dinner guests! But by 11 PM(!) the restaurant had filled up. The food was incredible. Every dish better than the last, beautifully presented, glorious produce, meats and fish – the kids ate everything and loved it. There were no phones. We just talked as a family for hours and talked about each dish as they came out. I think we were there for three hours! (nothing by European standards, but for us quick eaters it was a record that might not get broken again).
By the time we finished up dinner around 11:30 pm, we started walking back up the winding streets to our AirBnB, but we heard music. So we followed it and found a concert and dancing going on in front of the Cathedral that was lit up under the stars. The music and dancers were so beautiful, Dave and I kept looking at each other thinking “is this real?” We watched until it ended and slowly walked back to our AirBnB hand in hand.
Our night in Toledo was a moment in time where we realized how special life is. The simplicity of a warm summer night, a long meal with family – uninterrupted by technology or someone trying to hurry you along. The music and dancing made me realize that I wish I had a history has rich and long as the people of the town of Toledo.
Next Stop: Grenada