Thursday, January 5, 2012

Of armours, swords and cobble stone...Toledo,Spain

We took the train to the renfe train ticketing office in Atocha (done 2 days earlier) to purchase tickets to Toledo.  We used a 10-trip train ticket for our daily commute.  We saved about 4 Euros for the 10-trip train ticket (the normal train) with no expiry date.  
The train that would be used was the AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) train.  The name translated literally as Spanish High Speed. Our hosts gave us the instructions.  What hubby found out at the renfe train counter was once you confirmed the time for the tickets (back and forth-confirmed time), you get a certain amount of discount.  Hurray, hubby armed with only a few spoken Spanish words (mostly numerals), ability to make some hand gestures, got us some cheap tickets to Toledo.  Of course, some credit to be given to the Spanish man for he knew some English words. 
The people standing in a queue
There were a lot of people queuing for tickets not just to Toledo but to other parts of Spain.  Hubby had to get a number and and waited for his turn.  (Note: Do arrive early for purchase of tickets.)  I went for a walk around the train station.
Atocha train station
renfe train station
AVE train
The train leaves on the dot (time as stated in the ticket).  Luckily, we arrived early and waited.  We reached Toledo even before 'our seats were warmed'.  The journey took slightly more than 30 minutes.  The distance between Toledo and Atocha--about 71 km.  It was a quick and pleasant ride.
Hubby told me that we were in Toledo only to enjoy the city and not so much as visiting tourist sites.  We did not have much time, as it was a day-trip.  I did not mind.  My hosts told me to wear a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
A different kind of city
From the bus station outside the railway station, we waited for a bus (anyone of this Nos. 5, 61, 62) that took us to Plaza Zocodover.  That is the drop off point (I think) as I saw many buses stopped there and commuters alighted from the bus.  We did too.  The weather in Toledo on the day of our visit was colder than in Madrid.  It was foggy and for both of us especially me, sheer joy.  I am from Malaysia, where the weather is hot and humid almost all the year round.
Noticed the warm clothings worn.
We walked from Plaza Zocodover and the first stop we made was for food.  Hubby wanted to study the map of the city. We made a random stop, as we did not have any leads to any good restaurant/eateries.
I mentioned in my earlier posts that Spaniards are friendly people.  We met one that was not so the day we were in Toledo.  The waiter at the eatery was not so friendly and helpful.  We almost could not order any food as he did not bothered to even try to understand what we wanted.  However, we were lucky as there was a Spanish family dining there and the man (of the family) helped us.  He helped us with our order and we had cordero (lamb), we had chorizo (Spanish sausage) and croquettas (Spanish croquette).
Chorizo served in a typical Spanish bowl

The only name for this dish that I know...Cordero
It was our first introduction to Tapas.  Tapas are eaten as appetisers or snacks. They are small pieces of bread with a topping.  I wished I were more knowledgeable then.  We ate the chorizos and cordero without any pieces of bread.  The waiter (he could be the owner) did not serve them with any slices of bread. Oh, that man is a cheat! LOL.  The lamb and sausages were very salty. If only the croquetas had arrived with the lamb and chorizos.  We had chomped down the Croquetas as it was the first to arrive and very tasty.  Croquetas in Spain are not made of potatoes as found anywhere else outside of Spain.  In Spain, the outside layer is made of flour and that made it different and a 'must-try'.
Catedral Primada
Almost every street we turned into has a shop selling swords and armour suits. 
We walked around the city.  Entered one street after another and the buildings, the cobblestone road had me had me awed. The walls of the buildings and roads looked  ancient. It was like being transported back in time.
Cobblestone road

The reason my host told me to wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes was the road.  
Geraniums made the window look beautiful.
I could get lost in Toledo.  The streets looked almost the same with most shops selling quite similar things.  We walked past a restaurant and I went wide-eyed.  The restaurant had a sign outside with a word that I knew-Cosido.  Cosido madrileño is a traditional soup in Spain.  It is recommended that one try it when in Spain. We failed to find it in Madrid.  We did not want to miss the opportunity therefore; we walked straight into the restaurant.  We had to be gluttons of sorts as we just had a meal of tapas (without the bread though).
All we said to the waiter was Cosido with eye-brows raised.  He replied "Si, Si".  It was that simple.  We sat and waited.  A plate of olives was served as appetiser. 
Ceramic painting on the wall, checkered tablecloth, wooden furniture.  It was one typical Spanish restaurant.
A bowl of soup arrived with a piece of bread.  Both of us shared the bowl of soup. The consistency of the soup was between soup and stew.  It was thicker than soup but lighter than the gravy of a stew.  I loved the pasta in the soup.  It reminded me of Chinese vermicelli.  Cosido are served in two parts.  
The second part was a plate of chickpeas (garbanzo bean), pieces of chicken, potato, bacon, chorizo, pork and if I am not wrong, some pieces of beef.  Those served on the plate, they were ingredients used to prepare the soup. We do not take beef but it was too late, as we had swallowed the soup.  The soup was something both of us have not tasted and it was delicious to the last drop.  (I did not dare comment that it could be the piece of beef added!) Hubby is a strictly no-beef person.  
The waiter asked if we wanted dessert.  He said something in Spanish with one word dessert.  We just nodded our heads and I said Uno.  Another word added to my miserable command of Spanish.  It was egg caramel.  I have to say the caramel egg custard was not smooth enough.  I still liked what we have back home, in Malaysia.
Just look at the ancient and original
We walked around the city.  Entered one street after another and the buildings, the cobbled stone road had me dreamy eyed.  It was like walking into a storybook city in my dreams.  The low-lying clouds made it even more so.
We stopped at a cafe for coffee and cakes.  We had about 40 minutes left to take a bus back to the train station. Hubby bought a few pieces of marzipan.  The marzipan in Toledo tasted very different from the marzipan I have tasted.  The ones in Malaysia found mostly as the outer layer of wedding cakes tasted very sweet and nothing more.  Those in Toledo, they are fragrant and not too sweet. The ones hubby bought came in the form of sweets.  I forgot about taking pictures.  I was too engrossed with the eating.
Train station-Toledo (front view)
I have no pictures on almost all of the sites we visited.  I could not complain as he took many other beautiful pictures of Toledo. 
It was time to say adios to Toledo.  We had a short but wonderful time in beautiful Toledo.  It would be nice to stay for a few nights.  With the lights up, Toledo would definitely look more enchanting.  Maybe...maybe I will return one day.
Another area of the train station
We took the 6:35pm AVE train back to Atocha train station.  Then we had to use another kind of train to Valdelasfuentas station near Alcobendas.
It was around 7:30-8:00 pm when we walked the street that lead back to our apartment.  It is winter, the sky gets dark earlier and the streets are deserted.  We live in an area, which is quite safe.  We have not seen any gypsies or blacks.
Donna kebabs are what we would normally buy 'home' for extra bites. It is costs about 3.50 Euros for one. However, that night it was for dinner as both of us were too lazy to go elsewhere for food.  It would be our last night in Madrid for this first leg of our travel. We had a memorable time (so far), with beautiful weather, wonderful and helpful Madrileños. :o)


hcvvorld of Travels and Photography said...

So many nice photos of armors and our fairytale books..

Thristhan said...

I love places like this where it reminds you of our history. Food looks delicious too.