Today was the day we slated for going to Toledo. It’s about 45 miles away and it’s only 30 minutes via the high speed Ave train which leaves from Atocha Station.
You might recognize the name as it is the location of the al-Qaeda lead train bombings that occurred on March 11th 2004.
In Spain they use 3-11 or 11-M the same way we use 9/11 in the US to describe the day the World Trade Center was attacked and destroyed.
This train station is truly something to behold. The most breathtaking feature is the winter garden that sits in the middle of the station.
The garden is bordered by a lily pond, replete with turtles and everything!
Cynthia’s Spanish again served us well as we purchased our tickets. I don’t know if we could have pulled that off nearly as easily as we did if she didn’t speak the language.
We boarded the train and in no time at all we were pulling into the station in Toledo.
Rick Steves had indicated in his travel guide that it was a 30 minute walk to the city entrance or you could catch a cab from the station for a few euros. What he did not mention is that there are far fewer cabs than there are people needing them at the station. There must have been 50 people or more waiting in a cab line and I only saw 2 or 3 cabs trickle in before I decided we should walk.
Now keep in mind that Toledo is a walled medieval city on the top of a HUGE hill.
We walked toward the city, not really knowing where to go and we found an old arched entrance in one of the walls.
As it turned out, this was some kind of “back entrance” to the city. We were greeted by a very steep climb up to the city center of Toledo. Neither of us was all that happy by the time we found our way to the top. We knew there must be an easier way and there is, we just didn’t end up taking it.
Once we caught our breath we set out to explore this incredible city.
The most impressive structure within the well preserved walls of Toledo is the Cathedral of St. Mary.
We made our way down the winding street to the entrance to the church and went inside.
Like many cathedrals, photography is allowed as long as it is without a flash. That is where my high speed lens came in handy and I was able to shoot some pics inside and actually walk away with something worth looking at.
Gorgeous statues everywhere you look. This one was located on a very dimly lit wall. It was all I could do to hold the camera steady during the 1/5 of a second exposure time needed to get it.
Thank you built in image stabilization!
After we toured the cathedral we jumped on the cheezy mini-train that trundles around the city and took in the rest of the sites. This allowed me to capture a few more worthy shots of the city
After that Cynthia and I walked down and out (the easy way) and headed back to the train station for our return to Madrid.
Once back in Madrid we activated our rail passes and made our reservations for the train ride to Seville this Sunday.