Tuesday, September 15 Toledo
Walked around early taking pictures before the crowds hit.
Back to our hotel for breakfast ,which comes with the room in many places in Spain,and then to the Cathedral for more than 3 hours. It is huge, ornate from its facade to every corner of its interior.A short trip up to the bell tower and its 17 ton bell before touring the cathedral with the excellent audioguide.
Overwhelming in its beauty and antiquity, and loaded with treasures in gold, sliver, gems and art.
It is an easy place to tour. It is just past the tourist season in Spain because the children are back at school, the weather is cooling off, it is getting dark earlier, and we are the beneficiaries. The wave of tourists from tour buses comes within a half hour of opening and then there is a lull when the places are not crowded and this was true today.
Went to the 15th century hospital built by a grateful, wealthy nobleman in appreciation for some battle or another only to find it was closed for the last day of a “shooting.” We saw people in costumes when we arrived in town yesterday but did not know why. The sign on the door of the hospital “closed for shooting” now made sense. We did some planning and found a route out of town for Thursday. We went to the Jewish Museum which is located in an old Synagogue.
Some great artifacts, but we could have done without the lengthy explanation of the major Jewish holidays which of course we already knew. To balance things out we went to one of the convents and purchased cookies made an dispensed by unseen hands of the occupants via a “blind” turntable.
The Nun’s turntable.
A tough day. 2 trips to the train station. One trip to the bus station. One trip to a travel agent. 2 trips to the Visitor Information Center. 3 cars rented. Two car rentals canceled. All to no avail. Without breaking the bikes down, it is “not possible” to get them on trains in all of the southern half of Spain. Spain has many private train companies under one governing body called Renfe, so each has it’s own tracks, trains, and rules. Even the width of the tracks may be different so they can’t use each others. The trains may be 3/4 empty, but assembled bikes are not allowed. Folding bikes “yes.”. Countless courses created and possibilities explored. Two exhausted and frustrated bikers at the end of the day.
And still we had time to visit the hospital we tried to visit yesterday
oldest synagogue in Spain,(not active)
and the San Juan de Los Reyes Monastery which is still active and was the refuge of 39 monks who were martyred during the civil war in 1936. They were executed by the Franco forces. It is a silent memorial which seems to be in keeping with the Spanish culture since there is little written and almost no mention of the civil war in any of the places we have visited. Although the army museum was closed the day we tried to visit it our guide book says that even there, there’s little presented about it. The monastery is beautiful in its simplicity.
We hired a cab (van) to drive us about 50 km into the mountains south of Toledo. It was a perfect September day, sunny but cool. We began riding at 10:45 on a lonely highway headed to Porzuna.
The route took us around a large reservoir built with “Euro zone” money in 2009 to irrigate the olive groves and corn fields of a high valley in the Mountains of Toledo.
There were many trees with huge nests in them. One was a high rise.
We rode through 3 very small villages on our way to our resting place for the night. While still unloading and settling into the Hostal (means “hotel” in Spanish), a couple from northern Germany rolled up. They have been on the road cycling for 5 months and don’t know how long they’ll be gone. Right now they’re headed to southern Portugal to meet family for a week of R & R on the beach before continuing on…..perhaps South America??? It was great to spend some time visiting with other touring folks as they’ve been few and far between in this country. They also were happy to have someone to talk with and had a lot of the same observations about Spain and cycling that we had.We went to our Hostal’s bar and enjoyed Sangrias made with fresh peaches…yum.