A June 2005 trip
to Toledo by cola0
Quote: The Parador experience was enough to keep us satisfied in Toledo for 2 nights. Perched on the southern bank of the Tajo River, the Parador afforded the best city-wide views anytime of the day. It seemed as if everyone else had avoided Toledo in the unnatural 35°C heat wave.
The famed four-towered Alcazar (most unique and formidable landmark on the Toledan skyline) was closed for renovations when we arrived. The rest of the city seemed sleepy and lazy in the afternoon heat.
The Zocodover Plaza is the most natural place to start exploring Toledo, although it’s lost a lot of its historic charm. It used to be used as a marketplace, festival grounds, and for bull races. Now, it’s flanked by touristy cafés and the ever-present McDonald’s. From the Zocodover square, it’s quick access to the Alcazar and the little alleys that take you past countless souvenir shops (selling swords, fans, marzipan, bull related T-shirts, etc.) on the way to the cathedral, Iglesia de Santo Tome, and on to the other side of the city, where the Iglesia San Juan de los Reyes mockingly hovers over the Jewish quarters. To walk straight across town takes merely 2 hours (giving plenty of room for café or ice-cream stops). But it’s definitely worthwhile to set aside the map and get lost in the labyrinth of alleyways and minor plazas.
*Parador - best views and accommodations - you actually want to STAY at the hotel instead of venture out to take in the attractions
*Zocodover - the central artery to take in the pulse of the town
*Alleyways - all other sights and attractions seem to accessorize these alleys, and it definitely makes you want to get lost in the maze
*Food - Make sure not to miss the local cuisine. The local specialties are: carcamusas (mystery meat), venado (venison), and perdiz (fowl). The typical desert is marzipan, which you can find in all imaginable sculpted forms.
*Most travellers to Toledo are day-trippers coming in from Madrid. If you want to see the real Toledo, stick around for nightfall, after all the day-trippers board the buses and trains. The city gets very quiet after dark. Needless to say, this is not the place to find happening late-night bars and dance clubs. But if you want to explore the soul of the city when she's at her truest, stick around for nightfall. Better yet, grab a glass of wine up at the Parador and take in the view from the terrace or your own private balcony.
Walking is the only way to explore Toledo. If you're hoping to drive here, you'll have a really hard time finding parking. That said, there's one parking lot that we spotted next to the Alcazar. That would be the place to leave your wheels behind and head off on foot.
I consider this parador an all-inclusive resort or oasis in the middle of Toledo’s summer heat: stately, spacious rooms with oversized king-size beds and views that are unforgettable, terrace-side bar, and fine dining over the city… even the swimming pool has a view that should be captured on one of the Bond films. Why would anyone stay anywhere else in Toledo? For once, I wouldn’t mind hanging out at the hotel instead of scurrying about the streets and alleys of a travel destination, hoping to extract every juice of adventure and local flavor. I’m a do-it-all type of traveler. For me, it’s not enough to do the superficial sights and attractions that other "tourists" do. I must possess a "greedy travel gene" that is obsessed with local cultural immersion. I need to see, hear, taste, touch, do, and experience it all with every sense of me. And yet, here in Toledo, I am perfectly content to sit in front of my bedroom window or lounge beside the swimming pool, gazing at the different shades of sunlight that dresses the city below. Again, the heat might have something to do with my sudden lethargy and sense of inner complacency.
This is the place to splurge for the rooms with a view. If you stay 2 consecutive nights, you qualify for a special discounted rate, which includes a breakfast buffet and dinner. Check rates on the official Paradors of Spain site (www.parador.es or www.paradores-spain.com). Dinner is a set menu, where you can select from a nice variety of appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. The selections varied only a little bit between the first and second night of our stay. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate the food a 7 (I have a food connoisseur as a dad!). Service is a 10. View is a 13. Bon appetit!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 10, 2005
Parador Nacional Conde de Orgaz
Cerro del Emperador
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate the food a 7 (I have a food connoisseur as a dad!). Service is a 10. View is a 13. Bon appetit!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 10, 2005
Upstairs is a tapas bar and downstairs is a fantastic sit-down dining experience topped with friendly, attentive service.
Try the stewed partridge, a specialty of the region; bull's tail; fried asparagus; and the vegetable pie (quiche). Everything we tried was excellent. Ask the waiter for recommendations if you can't decide how to plan your meal. You won't be disappointed with their input.
Apparently they have two other locations at Calle de la Sinagoga 1 (925 22 13 92) and 6 (925 22 20 97). Bon appetit!
Plaza Ayuntamiento 8
Toledo, Spain 45001
925 224 105
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 13, 2005
Plaza de Zocodover
As for me, I left feeling uninspired and wishing I had saved the admission fee for a cold drink or ice cream instead.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 10, 2005
Casa Museo de El Greco
Samuel Leví, s/n
Toledo, Spain 45002
+34 925 224046
The famed Alcazar is closed for renovations this summer. The rest of the city seems sleepy and lazy in the afternoon heat. Even having been warned that it’s easy to get lost in the streets of Toledo, we still found ourselves making little circles again and again. Didn’t we pass this plaza already?? If you didn’t buy those souvenir fans already, this is the place to break the piggy bank and indulge yourself. Sooner or later, the heat tends to break everybody’s will. Is this unique to Toledo in Spain? How much hotter could it get in July and August?? I dare not imagine nor come back to see for myself.
The Zocodover Plaza is the most natural place to start exploring Toledo. Flanked by pretty cafés and the ever-present McDonald’s, the Zocodover opens up to both the Alcazar and little alleys that take you past countless souvenir shops and tourist traps on the way to the Cathedral, Iglesia de Santo Tome, and on to the other side of the city, where the Iglesia San Juan de los Reyes mockingly hovers the Jewish quarters. To walk straight across town takes merely 2 hours (giving plenty of room for café or ice-cream stops). But definitely take some time to set aside the map and get lost in the labyrinth of alleyways and minor plazas. Just wandering blindly in Toledo is an introduction to the feel of the city. Somehow, I’ve come away respecting its privacy, like a beautiful and proud Spanish woman, aloof, yet self-aware and firmly poised behind the shadow of her fan.
*Parador - best views and accommodations that make you actually want to STAY at the hotel instead of venture out to take in the attractions
*Zocodover - the central artery to take in the pulse of the town
*Alleyways - all other sights and attractions seem to accessorize these alleys, and they definitely make you want to get lost in the maze
There are a limited number of trains from Madrid’s Atocha station running to Toledo each day. The duration of train travel is 1.5 hours. However, in June, the station in Toledo is undergoing some maintenance and major overhaul, so passengers are bused from another station 25 minutes away. When you purchase tickets in Madrid, they don’t mention this big fact, but the conductor on the train will let you in if you can understand Spanish. Even if you buy round-trip tickets from Madrid, you’ll have to pay an extra fare for the bus ride from Toledo’s train station to the nearby connecting train station. (I can’t remember the name of that station). Check www.renfe.es for the latest schedules.