Day 7: Toledo

Oh Day 7, the bus-riding day. Today was the longest drive of them all, a whopping 675 km from Lisbon to Toledo (our only sightseeing destination for the day) to Madrid where we’d spend the night. As part of this morning’s breakfast, we ate our leftover egg tarts from Pasteis de Belem, but not so surprisingly, our hotel had egg tarts in their buffet line-up, too. After fueling up on egg tarts, cappuccinos, and fruit, I was as ready as I was going to be for the more than six-hour ride ahead.

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We stopped at a rest stop every 2 hours, grabbing an express lunch along the way. Fast forward quite a bit and… hooray, we were finally in Toledo! Before stepping foot into the historic city though, we were first driven to the top of another hill for a panoramic view where from afar, we could really appreciate the huge labyrinth that was Toledo.

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“Successively a Roman municipium, the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V, Toledo is the repository of more than 2,000 years of history. Its masterpieces are the product of heterogeneous civilizations in an environment where the existence of three major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – was a major factor.” — UNESCO

Since tour buses aren’t allowed in the city, we were dropped off near its base and led by our guide up four(!) flights of escalators. Our guide explained how these escalators were relatively new, and in the past, their tour groups had to walk uphill the entire way. Although it would have been pretty good exercise considering we had literally been sitting around all day, I was still glad to take the short-cut.

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After lazily but expediently making our way to the top, our senses were immediately enlivened by the colorful decorations on the buildings and through the streets. Turns out Toledo was all dressed up for the Corpus Cristi holiday! This also explained the larger than normal crowd as locals with the day off came with their families to sightsee and celebrate, as well.

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Wandering through these streets, we passed shop after shop selling specialty souvenirs. These included marzipan, daggers, swords, ceramics, shawls, and most abundantly, damascene ware (24 karat gold-etched black steel objects, such as plates, jewelry, wall art, etc). In addition to requiring relatively expensive materials, these items were all etched by hand, making larger ones hundreds to thousands of euros in price. The smaller jewelry items were very reasonably priced though, so Crystal ended up buying a pair of earrings while I bought a pendant.

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We tried to buy some marzipan, too, before it was time to reconvene with our tour group, but sadly the line at the store was moving too slowly and so we left without making a purchase.

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We only had a few hours to spend in Toledo, but for the little time that it was, the festivity of the Corpus Christi holiday made it leave a grand impression.

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A good-bye glimpse while going down the escalator

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