Madrid 2020 – Day 3

SUNDAY FEB 9 : While walking to the Prado the previous day, we noticed a bakery with a very long line of people waiting to get in. Since we were ready to go and it was early, we assumed that now there would be no line, and we should start the day there. After a delicious continental breakfast – croissants, cinnamon bun with apple topping – we walked to the main train station.

It had rained during the night, and the wet sidewalks dampened Michal’s socks. At the station she bought a dry pair – socks with a picture of Sangria on them. We waited for the platform of our train to be announced, and once through security and on to train, we were on our way to Toledo.

Toledo, on the fast train, is a litte over ½ an hour away.  The first part of the trip is through the Madrid subburbs, but then the landscape becomes small rolling hills dotted with green and brown farmer’s fields, some olive groves and the occasional small industrial city.

We reached the Toledo train station – a beautiful Moorish building with colorful stained glass windows – exited the station and followed the crowd towards the old city. Before crossing the bridge, we had a beautiful view of the Alcazar Castle on top of the hill, with the bridge and river below.

Once over the bridge, we made our way up the hill looking for the escalator I remember taking with Aba to reach the top. Somehow we missed it – and ended up walking up the hill – but it was a very enjoyable walk seeing the city with the different shades of orange roof tiles below us.

We made our way through the narrow streets towards the Jewish Quarter. Once there we first visited the Sinagoga de Santa María La Blanca – the main synagogue of the Jews that had been converted to a church. It was under restoration when I visited Toledo previously with Mark, and this was my first time inside. We unsuccessfully looked for a Magen David in the decorations, but did not find.

From there we to the other synagogue – Sinagoga del Tránsito – where the original Jewish origin of the building is clear to see. There are Hebrew sayings on the walls and an ark for the Torah Scrolls up front. Both buildings face east – towards Jerusalem. This building also includes a small museum about Jewish life in general, and more specifically about Jewish life in Spain.

After visiting the park across the street for the view, we headed towards the one and only vegetarian restaurant in the city. Our path took us past the main cathedral which seems to be under repair. We located the restaurant down a small alley. It was more elegant than we had expected – tableclothes on the tables. We had a slow leisurely lunch – appetizers and main meal – which was good, but not as creative as the food we had eaten in Madrid.

Having restored our energy we headed towards a viewpoint nearby and then on to the Alcazar. I photographed the same knight doll, in front of the same store, that I remembered photographing from my trip 13 years ago.

We then walked up Calle Comercio – a street full of tourists and tourist shops. We were in pursuit of a felt sword for Erez for his Purim custom. Of course, once Tamar bought one, we found a nicer and cheaper one a few stores down. I got a new wallet made from cork for Mark and small bowls for Judy.

We wondered a bit further, and then turned around to head back to the train station to make the 5:25 train we had reservations on. We found ourselves at the top of the escalator we had been looking for before. It is actually a series of six escalators that take you from the river level to the town on the hill or in our case, from the town back down to the river.

Once down, we walked to the train and rode back to Madrid.

In Madrid, we decided to Uber home to the apartment – we had already done well over 20,000 steps that day, many of them uphill. Before returning home, Tamar and Michal went to buy Snir some chocolates we had seen on the first day. Not remembering exactly where the store was – they finally found it, got the chocolates and returned home. Tamar wanted to return to Primark for a Stanger Things t-shirt gift for Yossi. So again we left the apartment – the streets were once again full. Primark was only a seven minute walk away. Once we had t-shirt in hand, we were off for dinner. We had really enjoyed the Vega restaurant the first day in Madrid, and decided to return there, but to a different branch of the restaurant.

As we were walking there it seemed to us that the outside temperature seems to be measured on a different scale in Madrid. We were feeling very comfortable and surprised to see that it was only 5 degrees outside. Five degrees seems much colder in Israel or in London. Here, although the numbers were low, we were not cold. No hats needed.

While the first Vega had been small, this one was much roomier and had a much larger dinner menu. The food was exceptional – both tasty and creative – using edible flowers as decoration. The meal ended with a dessert splurge – a tasting tray with four different vegan treats.

Then it was back to the apartment, packing our suitcases to be ready for the morning and into bed.

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