Madrid to Toledo & back!
Trip Start May 25, 2008
32Trip End Jul 04, 2008
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Where I stayed
Next we stopped off at the famed 'Del Prado' Museum with our local guide for the day, Chiara, who just happened to be an art major (excellent planning by Trafalgar)......she talked us through a few select paintings, explaining the background, content, and method the artist used for each, rather than overloading us with wandering with the hordes past the thousands of paintings in the place.
The 'optional' excursion for today was a short 1hr bus ride to the ancient city of Toledo! (anyone who knew what lay in store here would not miss this for the world!) What a great place???!
Ancient Roman walls surround the original old 'inner' city, and our Spanish guide took those of us willing to brave the heat (only a few of us went but were not disappointed) on an interesting walking tour thru the heart of the town, including some peculiar back-street sights...the tomb of 'El Greco' as well as his famous masterpiece, "Burial of Count Orgaz", the exterior of the gothic, huge, beautiful 15th century Cathedral of St Mary, complete with 90m bell tower, demonstration of the intricate art of gold-inlay jewellery & plate-making (not cheap, but stunning).
Toledo is famous for its' long-held tradition of producing steel of the highest quality for military swords, etc...they actually supply many of the world's largest armies! Many shops sell decorative versions of a large range of swords....we looked but didn't touch.
I sampled local freshly-made-to-order Paella for lunch, which we now enjoy quite a bit of since returning downunder...yum!
The bus took us back to Madrid, where we took a quick dip in the 9th floor rooftop pool, followed by pre-"farewell dinner" drinks...we did not want to believe this special trip with such a special group of new friends was coming to a close the next morning!
We walked from our hotel to the restaurant where we enjoyed tapas, paella, garlic mushrooms & prawns, plus apple cake & plenty of Sangria!!! It was quite an emotional time, as most of the touring party stood, one at a time, to give their highlights of the past 3 weeks we had enjoyed together, to a person congratulating our exceptional tour director & coach driver, who had ensured our safety all the way.
Some took their leave on our walk back to the hotel, as they were catching very early morning flights to their respective countries, some including ourselves to continue on other travel legs they had planned whilst so far from home, while the bulk of the group gathered for 'cleansing ales' at our hotel before retiring for a well-earned rest.