December 28, 2010 Toledo, Spain

Thank goodness John is feeling better today and we are able to continue our journeys. We leave plenty of time to get to Toledo and meet our contact at our next lodgings. We get to Toledo with a half an hour leeway and then hit monumental traffic. We go about 1 Km in the half an hour. Then we get into the old city where most of it is a pedestrian zone unless you know where you are going and can get a policeman to lift the bollards. We finally give up and park in an underground garage and call our contact, Teresa. Apparently she is awaiting our call and says she will meet us in half an hour. We scurry back to the car and grab a few belongings because there is no way we are going to pull all our stuff up the steep, cobbled calles. Finally we reach our destination and then wait an additional half hour for Teresa. Not a good way to start the day.

Waiting for Teresa
Waiting for Teresa

She is all apologies for leaving us standing in the cold and shows us up to our flat (operative word “up”) but the place is nice and we settle in. Next mission, lunch! Not wanting to eat a three course lunch we stop at a little bar for bocadillos (sandwiches).

Sarah and John enjoy a lunchtime beer
A toast for Toledo

After lunch, the first thing we do is go look at the Alcazar.
The Alcázar of Toledo is a stone fortification located in the highest part of Toledo. It was used as a Roman palace in the 3rd century and renovated in 1535. During the Spanish Civil War, the building was held against overwhelming Spanish Republican forces in the Siege of the Alcázar. The incident became a central piece of Spanish Nationalist lore. It is hard to get a good picture since the streets are narrow and the building is very large.

Next we visit the Toledo Cathedral. It is enormous inside with many statues, alterpieces, a fabulous altar and choir. The choir is especially interesting as the bottom and back of the seats are totally carved. Sarah and I take our saints cheat sheet and enjoy once again identifying the who’s who of the cathedral.
Holy Church Cathedral
Holy Church Cathedral, Toledo

After the cathedral we visit the Sephardic Museum housed in an old synagogue. Visiting Jewish sites in Europe is usually a somber occasion. The synagogue gorgeously decorated with Hebrew and middle Eastern designs has three exhibition rooms. Unfortunately there is not too much left of what was a thriving Jewish community here. The Jews were expelled in 1492 and whatever remnants were left were subject to two later expulsions. No photography allowed.

Last item on our Toledo visit? A traditional dinner. We go to the restaurant that Teresa has recommended, Cafe Aurelio. We arrive for our 9 PM reservation. There is only one other couple. One other couple arrives around 10:30 and another as we are leaving at 11. We long for dinner at a regular hour.

Gazpacho with partridge
I have the only menu with English penciled in. Some of the descriptions are fanciful kind of like Google translating a page. John and I start with gazpacho with partridge. Sarah has what is called
Crackling mushrooms
“crackling mushrooms.” It’s actually giant pieces of mushrooms breaded and fried and served in a marinara sauce.
Garbanzos with lobster and cockles
John and I have garbanzos with lobster and cockles for our main course. Surprisingly it is served cold. It seems that we are fashioning the perfect summer dinner. Too bad it’s not warm out.
Pork with pureed potatoes and beans
Sarah has pork cheeks with pureed potatoes and beans. The pork is good but the potatoes are so runny that they need to be eaten with a spoon. The beans are meh. The silliest part of dinner is when we order sherbet with three spoons and it comes in a glass and is completely liquidy. Who knew?

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