We have visited Toledo Spain four times now and yet, for us, it never seems to lose its charm.
I don’t really know of any other location that has so much to see and admire.
A fusion of religion.
Toledo Spain has certain fame not only for its labyrinth of narrow streets filled with shop after shop displaying the famous Toledo steel swords, knives and body armour but also for its plethora of churches.
In a radius of no more than a kilometre you can find a mix of Christian, Jewish and Muslim places of worship that reportedly existed side by side in peace and tolerance for centuries.
We could probably do well to learn a lesson or two from that kind of acceptance of other’s beliefs.
The narrow streets of the Casco Viejo (old town)
Perhaps the most surprising part of walking through the impossibly narrow streets of the old town is having to avoid the cars and motorbikes that come whizzing through them at breakneck speed.
They don’t seem to consider the two centimetre clearance they have on either side of their wing mirrors an impediment at all. Nor is the multitude of tourists milling through the streets anything for them to worry about.
There’s a surreal contrast that exists between the thousands of strolling, relaxed tourists and the manic, drivers, apparently furious at life and peeping their horns like it was going out of fashion.
Don’t arrive at lunchtime
Even though it was mid-week when we arrived at Toledo Spain, we learnt a valuable lesson about arriving hungry at lunch time. We naively assumed that we would be able to find a restaurant without problem but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Everywhere was packed and there wasn’t a free table in sight. After spending a good hour listening to “camareros” telling us that it was impossible to fit in more people, we finally found somewhere willing to squeeze us into a corner.
By that time we were all getting a little weary from the sun and the heat. Our recommendation is to get there earlier and reserve a table!
The interesting variation on the tourism in Toledo is that the vast majority of the tourists are Spanish. You’ll see a few Chinese and Japanese people, but on the whole, in the streets you hear Spanish spoken, which makes the whole experience just that little bit more authentic if you are a student of the Spanish language.
A must visit
If you get the chance to visit the centre of Spain, perhaps Madrid centre, then take the opportunity to visit Toledo Spain. It’s only around a very pleasant 45 minutes in train from Madrid centre. You’ll love it!