Our next excursion took us to Toledo. It's about an hour and a half south of Madrid in the mountains. It was seriously beautiful, like everything else here. First, we picked up our guia, Mario, and took a panoramic bus tour around the outskirts of the city. What a view!
We then left the bus and took this series of escalators up to the old part of the city. The escalators were carved into the hillside in 1995.
Mario then took us on a walking tour around the city. I couldn't believe how old everything is! And you have to watch where you're walking because many of the sidewalks and alleys also serve as roads for small cars. We almost got ran over on more than one occasion.
Our first stop was the Catedral de San Juan. It was built to thank God for their victory in a battle that helped win a war in the 14th century. The walls were really interesting because they had the symbols of all of the kingdoms of Spain at the time. And it was freezing cold!
We also saw this cool synagogue that was originally a synagogue built by Muslims that was later converted into a church and then back to a synagogue. It was awesome but unfortunately we couldn't take pictures.
The tour took about 3 hours. We saw tons of cool churches, buildings, and views.
This is the Catedral Santa Maria de Toledo. We didn't go inside but it was impressive enough from the outside. The door knockers were about 10 feet off the ground so caballeros (horsemen) could ride right up to the door to knock.
We stopped for lunch at a restaurant with a menu del dia, a really popular concept in Spain. For lunch, they offer you a choice of 2 courses and a dessert with bread and water, wine, or refresco (Coke). I had the paella (yum!), the salmon, and helado (ice cream!). It was really delicious, except the salmon kinda creeped me out because they left the skin on and the backbone in. But it was still good!
But what we were most excited about was the Hotel Beatriz - free wifi! Except it didn't work too well. Everyone raced to their rooms to skype their family and friends so the connection got really slow. But the rooms were amazing by themselves. We each had a balcony that looked out to the older part of the city.
We pulled our chairs out onto the balcony with our laptops to enjoy the beauty of Spain.
That night we went back to the town center for another menu del dia. This time I was not as happy with my choices: sopa castellana (garlic soup), bistec ternera (veal steak), and fruta (an apple in this case). The soup was not very good at all - it was a garlicky broth with pieces of soggy bread, jamon (ham), and it looked like they just cracked an egg right into the hot soup. It was very Spanish but not for me. But I'm glad I tried it. The rest of the meal was delicious, including the vino :)
We took taxis back to the hotel to get some sleep before leaving for Malaga in the morning!