Toledo Two – Madrid #6.

Hello again and welcome to my latest little contribution to the blogosphere or whatever it is called. I am rather enjoying it here it present and with London suffering it’s strictest ever restrictions due to the pandemic I really do need something to do.

I’ll just get my usual little preamble out of the way here for non-regular readers who may have arrived here by whatever quirk the search engine spirits may have decided to throw at you. This post is one of a series describing a short trip I took to Madrid in November 2013 and it will make more sense if you start at the beginning of the account which you can do here.

To give you a little precis of what awaits you if you are kind or curious enough to click the “read more” button below, this entry consists of a short walk, two old buildings, four bars and ham, egg and chips. I know it doesn’t sound like much but, believe me, there is plenty in it.

Shall we go?

If you have read through this series so far you will know that at the end of the last entry I had left you with me at the Alcazár in Toledo in Spain having just hopped off a Hop On – Hop Off bus trip which I thought was the whole purpose of such vehicles.

Alcazár.

Much travel writing includes the phrase “must see” but in the case of the Alcazár it is more a case of “can’t avoid seeing”. To trot out another such staple it really “dominates the skyline”. Incidentally, the name Alcazár is not a specific one, it is just the Spanish word for fortress.

The history of this fine building and it’s predecessors goes back to the Romans who, let’s face it, knew a thing or two about soldiering. When they defeated the local Celtic tribes in 193 BC they picked the site of modern day Toledo to set up camp and named it Toletum which gives us the name and they could not have picked a better spot. Standing on a high promontory surrounded on three sides by the River Tagus and with extensive views in all directions it was easily defended.

There was a Roman building here but the archaeological evidence suggests it was a palace rather than a military building. Toletum must have been an important centre as it was visited by the noted chronicler Livy, who described it as “a small city, but fortified by location”. Actually, he wrote “urbs parva, sed loco munita” but my Latin is even worse than my Spanish so I cut and pasted that.

After the Roman Empire fell and they mostly went home, the Visigoths moved in and do not seem to have done much on this specific part of the settlement, nor did their successors the Moors or even the Christians for centuries after they took over in 1085. It was only c.1531 that building of the present structure began on the instructions of King Charles V to the design of Alonso de Covarrubias. We met Señor de Covarrubias in the last entry, he was the guy who designed the Puerta de Bisagra Nueva (New Bisagra Gate).

Sturdy as it is, there is no evidence that the building ever saw any action in the succeeding centuries. I suppose it’s appearance and position would have been sufficient deterrant for any would be attacker although Toledo seems to have been peaceful. Peaceful that is until 1936 during the Spanish Civil War when an event happened that has made the Alcazár a hugely potent symbol in Spanish politics.

For those readers who may not know about the Spanish Civil War I shall give you a very brief outline and I promise it will be brief. In 1936 there was a Nationalist (right-wing) military coup against the Republican (left-wing) coalition government. The coup was led by General Francisco Franco but was only partially successful and there ensued a very bloody Civil War for control of the country with many atrocities committed on both sides.

In the way of these things, other major players were flexing their muscles and fighting wars by proxy, a practice that sadly continues to this day.

The Nationalists were supported by the Fascist regimes in Germany and Italy and the Republicans received assistance from Stalin’s USSR, Britain, France and up to 40,000 volunteers from all over the world who comprised the “International Brigades”. Many notable people fought in these brigades including George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway and future German leader Willi Brandt. This really was like a dress rehearsal for the World War that was to come so very soon and which Spain very sensibly, if somewhat surprisingly, kept out of.

After all the bloodshed the Nationalists were eventually victorious and Franco went on to rule Spain as “Caudillo (dictator)” until 1974 when he stood down due to ill-health.

In 1936, the Alcazár was garrisoned by Nationalists under the command of Colonel José Moscardó Ituarte with the garrison comprising about 1,000 Guardia Civil, a sort of paramilitary police force. On the 21st July about 8,000 Republicans laid seige to the building and fierce fighting ensued. Ituarte consistently refused to surrender the fortress despite the most trying of personal circumstances.

During the siege a number of hostages were taken including Ituarte’s 16 year old son Luis. In a telephone call with the besiegers they said they would execute the boy if he did not surrender. During a brief conversation with his son he told him to, “Commend your soul to God, shout ‘Viva España!’ and die like a hero”.

Reports vary as to whether Luis was executed immediately or, as some suggest, some time later in reprisal for an air raid. Either way, he did not live to see the end of the conflict and the successful outcome for his side.

Almost as soon as the Civil War ended work began on repairing the building which had been almost totally destroyed during the siege and this work continued for many years with the pleasing results you see here. This probably explains why it is in such good condition – the vast majority of it is 20th century. I wonder if Señor de Covarrubias would have approved.

To this day the Alcázar remains dear to the hearts of those to the right of the political spectrum. So powerful a symbol is it that it gave it’s name to “El Alcázar”, a right-wing newspaper which was begun during the Civil War and continued right up until 1988.

I took some images of the building from a number of angles but, for reasons as inexplicable as why I went to Toledo in the first place, I did not go inside and I regret it now. The main reason I regret it is that it houses the Museum of the Army (“Museo del Ejército”) and I love military museums. It was moved here in 2010 from Madrid and apparently is very good. Still, had I gone in there I would have done nothing else all day and missed out on all the interesting things I am going to tell you about in a moment.

To the front of the building (or should that be the back? The side nearest the river) is a modern building which I thought looked slightly incongruous abutting the old one and this is part of the museum. Standing beside this building is the statue you can see here and which I thought at the time looked fairly militaristic and that is indeed the case as it is called the “Statue to Victory” although I cannot discover whether it refers to one specific triumph or is more generic.

Old Town.

On the bus I had caught glimpses of what looked like a wonderful historic city and I fancied a wander round it. It certainly did not disappoint with it’s narrow streets, some cobbled and it’s immaculately tended buildings and it is just the type of old town I love wandering round trying to get lost. It would be very difficult to get lost in Toledo old town as it is not that huge and no matter where you are, if you keep walking in one direction, you will be able to see either the Alcazár or the Cathedral and orientate yourself accordingly.

I have mentioned elsewhere that one of only two things I knew about Toledo before visiting was the quality of their cutlery, especially “big boy’s cutlery” i.e. swords, daggers, knives and other implements of destruction. There is evidence of steel manufacture here as early as 500 BCE. The famous Carthaginian leader Hannibal had his troops equipped with weapons made from Toledo steel and at one point nearly all the weapons made for the mighty Roman Army were from the city.

Sadly today there are much more destructive weapons available as you can generally only kill one adversary at a time with an edged weapon but the trade flourishes and Toledo blades are still highly prized whether as decorative items or for use in films, which provides a lot of work for the cutlers here in the 21st century.

I have included the images above to give an idea of the staggering range of blades available in Toledo and these were only two of a large number of shops I saw.

Apart from a look round there was obviously an ulterior motive for going here. It was now over two hours since I had had a beer and I fancied one, all that making like a tourist was making me thirsty and so, totally at random, I went into the Bar La Boveda. This is not to be confused with La Otra Boveda, an apparently extremely popular and quite posh looking place according to the internet. I don’t do posh and this place looked fine to me.

As you can see, it was completely deserted but it was mid-afternoon on a November weekday so hardly surprising. In my awful Spanish I ordered a large beer although I suppose, “Hola Señor, una cerveza grande por favor” isn’t too difficult to master. It cannot have been too bad as what I would call a pint glass of obviously ice-cold beer, which was undoubtedly half a litre, was duly served up somewhat oddly on a plate. I suppose it saves wiping the condensation off the counter top later on.

The barman spoke a little English, certainly much more than my Spanish but somehow we managed to communicate. It never ceases to amaze me how much interaction you can have with people even without a common language or very little. I know for sure I did not order any food but it came up anyway in that peculiarly Spanish way. The little “bar nibbles” to give you something for the beer to wash down. In this case it was not so little, two pieces of beautiful Manchego cheese and a good hunk of bread.

It is hardly surprising the cheese was so good. Although I have eaten Manchego before and thoroughly love it I had never considered why it was so called but I know now and it has only become apparent to me whilst writing about Toledo, I love this. Manchego milk comes from the Manchega breed of sheep which are named for the la Mancha region of Spain.

I had only heard of La Mancha in the title of the 1972 film “Man of La Mancha” starring Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren which I must get round to watching some day. I had no idea where La Mancha was, much less that I was sitting in the historic centre of the de facto capital of the Castilla – La Mancha region but I was.

I am now going to give you another completely useless but interesting fact about Toledo as I have been reading up on it a lot.

I have already told you about Charles V who basically “built” the city in the early 16th century. Along with his numerous other titles he was the 20th Holy Roman Emperor of the “modern period” (there had been a hiatus in the 10th century). The title and concept of a such a figurehead was established in 800 CE by Charles I who is better known as Charlemagne.

One of the 11 cities Toledo is twinned with is Aachen in Germany which may well form the basis of another blog project here at some point. When I was in Aachen I learned that it had been the seat of government from where Charlemagne ruled for much of his time in office and I was just wondering if that is why they were twinned.

Sorry folks, my train of thought is frequently derailed and it really is no wonder these entries take me so long to put together. Here’s another image to relieve the boredom. Isn’t the architecture beautiful?

Reluctantly dragging myself away from my newest favourite bar I made my way towards the Cathedral stopping briefly to admire the wonderful but sadly closed shop you can see in the images above which I have included for a number of reasons. Firstly and most obviously the produce. The cured meats, the preserved goods, the beers, the wines and those beautiful Manchegan cheeses, some of which I could still taste from the bar.

Secondly I wanted to show you the fine examples of the tilework which is so prevalent all over Spain and which I find particularly attractive and thirdly I want to explain mazepan to you if you are not already way ahead of me and know already. It is the Spanish word for what I would call marzipan and the first written record of this confection dates to 1512 and comes from Toledo which might explain partly explain why it is so popular here.

In many parts of the world marzipan is reserved for special occasions, often Christmas or New Year but Toledans are noted for eating it all year round. So associated with this lovely sweet is the city that the EU have given mazapán Protected Geographical Indication status which “emphasises the relationship between the specific geographic region and the name of the product”. I think that is enough about that.

Although the images do not show it, the shop is called Casa Cuartero and they proudly boast that they have been here snce 1920. I wonder how they fared in the Civil War.

On reflection, it is probably something of a blessing that the shop was closed for siesta as I would have spent a fortune in htere, taken the food back to the suite, stuck it in the fridge and probably forgotten it when I went home. Wait until you see what I did bring home, you really will not believe it but that is a couple of entries away yet.

I had not yet had a proper look at the Cathedral and I approached it along a small road at the side which you can see in the image with just a tantalising glimpse of the spire. When I got into the square in front of the building and stepped back a little to take it in properly I was hugely impressed and hopefully the images show why, it really is a splendid building. I have read of it being described as the finest example of the Spanish Gothic style and it is not hard to see why.

Maybe it is just my Northern European eye but I found the assymetery of the façade slightly odd. Had this been in the UK, Germany, France or wherever, there would have been two symmetrical towers but I will tell you why this is. The original plan was for matching towers similar to Bourges Cathedral in France upon which this building is based but the ground would not support one of them due to an underground stream. I shall explain the dome later.

It is worth looking closely at the stonework as it is very well executed as you can see.

Due to the physical constraints of the square I was in and the huge size of the subject (it is nearly 200 feet wide) it is impossible to get a straight head on image of the Cathedral. It is not just my cheap equipment or incompetence for a change as I have looked online and cannot find any such image. Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that and said I was just being “arty”. Then again, maybe not.

I think it is time to go into the Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo, or the Cathedral as I shall call it to save me a lot of typing and you a lot of reading. I have my synonym website primed as I will run out of superlatives in no time flat otherwise. Before we start touring I think we should have the history lesson which I shall try to keep relatively brief. To soften the blow, I’ll intersperse it with a few images just to break it up a a bit and give your eyes a rest.

Although there is no firm evidence for it there is a widely held local belief that there was a Church of St. Mary here which was consecrated in 587 and built by St. Eugene of Toledo. With the Moorish occupation of the Iberian peninsula (711 – 719) the Church was torn down and the main mosque for the city erected on the site. There is evidence of this with some of the Islamic structure incorporated into the present building.

In 1085 King Alfonso VI recaptured the city for Christianity and, remarkably for the times, he managed to achieve this by negotiation rather than violence. Part of the agreement was that Muslim culture and practices would be respected much as the Christian religion had been allowed to carry on under Moorish rule. I think this is remarkably enlightened thinking for the 11th century, perhaps an Alfonso or two in the world now might make it a better place.

Everything went smoothly for a while until Alfonso had to go elsewhere on affairs of state, leaving the city in the care of his wife Constance and Bernard of Cluny, the abbot of a nearby monastery. What happened on 25th October 1087 is unedifying to say the least. The Queen and the priest sent armed men to seize the mosque which they did and proceeded to erect a makeshift altar and hang a bell in the minaret to “cast out the filthiness of the law of Mohammed”.

Unsurprisingly there was a Muslim uprising on the horizon which was only forestalled by the return of the King who was utterly furious and ordered the execution of all those who took part. He met with a local Muslim elder called Abu Walid who was able to quell the unrest. It is reported that the potential trouble was averted by the moderate members of the Muslim community themselves without need of physical intervention by the Christians. Walid also persuaded his people that the Christian usurpation of the mosque was legitimate and so the site became Christian again.

I rather like this story as it shows what a few clear, calm heads can achieve. After this, Christians and Muslims co-existed peacefully for centuries. My fvourite part of the whole affair comes right at the end. So grateful to Abu Walid were the senior Christian clerics that they dedicated a homage to him and, better still, ordered his effigy to be placed in one of the pillars of the new Church as a constant reminder of his actions. I wonder what the odious Bernard of Cluny thought about that.

The former mosque served as a church for only a matter for months. Some time in 1088 Pope Urban II raised it’s status to primate cathedral for the Kingdom. I suspect this gave him great pleasure as he was an Islamophobe long before the word was invented (which I think was no more than 20 years ago). He was the Pope who incited the First Crusade seven years later, thereby putting in train a chain of events we still suffer from today.

The former mosque did duty as a cathedral until 1222 by which time the building was getting a bit tired and several sections had required demolition. In that year the Pope ordered that a new building be constructed and work began in 1226 when Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada was archbishop. He was to be very instrumental in the building process and it was he who insisted on the Gothic style as he wished his Cathedral to rival anything in other Christian countries.

In the 13th century there was no such thing as an architect and buildings were designed by Master Masons and the first of these, who must have made the original plan is known to history only as Master Martin with circumstantial evidence that he was French. He was succeeded by Pedro Pérez who for centuries had been held to be the original designer until new documents were discovered in the middle of last century.

Obviously a structure of this magnitude takes a very long time to construct and there were additions to the main building being designed and executed for centuries to the designs of a succession of Master Masons. If it could be said to be “completed” you would have to say it was in 1493 when Cardinal Mendoza closed the last vault of the building.

The main building may have been completed but the work just carried on under a succession of archbishops, notable among whom was Cardinal Cisneros who, when not being a cleric was a lawyer, editor, intellectual and statesman who was twice regent of Spain. On the debit side he was also Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition but I suppose nobody’s perfect.

It was Cisneros who oversaw the building of the Mozarabic Chapel which is the dome you see on the right of the building as you look from the front and which I mentioned above as making hte building asymmetrical. I have mentioned the Mozarabs before and Cisneros must have had a fondness for them as he also produced the first missal and breviary (religious books) of the Mozarabic Rite.

There have been constant minor alterations over the centuries nd a fairly major one in 1787 but that is effectively the building you see here so that is the end of the history lesson and time for a look around.

There are numerous chapels around the sanctuary and I did not take images of them all as it would have taken me an age so here is one I picked just to give you an idea. This is the Chapel of the Conception which I chose because of the wonderful wrought iron work and the quality of the paintings which are by Francisco de Amberes. The chapel was funded in 1502 by Juan de Salcedo whose sepulchre is actually within the chapel.

I had to take this image as it amused me and I don’t remember ever seeing anything like it before. I know it is a lot less trouble for the staff and I am sure the effect on those lighting the “candles” is exactly the same but I think it has lost a little something, especially in such an old building.

I am no Biblical scholar but I reckon this is a depiction, a very large depiction, of St. Christopher carrying the child Jesus across a river which has led to him being the patron saint of travellers which I thought was appropriate for me. If I tell you that the cathedral is 146 feet high and that the dark smudge in the foreground is a human (who I had not noticed whilst taking the image) you will get an idea of scale. For some reason, probably the size and condition of the piece, I had it in my head that this was a modern representation in an old style and I was slightly surprised to discover later that it dates to c.1638.

These images are of a reja, one of many in the cathedral although I think this was the best example. A reja is a decorative ironwork structure placed in front of a chapel, the choir or the altar and some of them are outstanding in their intricacy. Again, the people in the foreground give a sense of scale, this reja must have been over 20 feet high. When you think that these were fabricated in the 16th century using only hammers, anvils and lathes it makes the quality of the workmanship all the more remarkable.

This is the retable and until about five minutes ago I could have not told you that because I had never heard the word before. I love places of worship but I have no idea of the terminology involved. In modern parlance I suppose it would be called a “multi-media installation” as it features wood-carving, filigree, sculpture and painting and was a collaboration of many notable artists. When you look at how skillfully it is done it comes as no surprise that it took seven years (1497 – 1504) to complete. It also comes as no surprise that it was commissioned by our old friend Cardinal Cisneros. I have included a detail here to show just how intricate the work is.

Chapterhouse.

Next we come to the chapterhouse and I knew this would happen as I am running out of superlatives as this area is, well, judge for yourselves. Whilst you are thinking of your own superlatives you can also take a guess as to who ordered this area constructed. Got it in one, Cardinal Cisneros in 1504. Chapterhouse is basically an ecclesiastical term for meeting room. Every cathedral and larger monastery has a chapter, or group of clerics who advise the bishop, abbot or whoever.

I think we shall start at the top and work down, you can go through the slideshow and match the images to the text.

The ceiling was done by Diego López de Arenas and Francisco de Lara between 1508 – 1510 and is what is called now the “Cisneros style”. Right in the middle of it hangs an odd juxtaposition of historical and modern and you probably were wondering why I included an image of a CCTV camera, it is to show how cleverly they have incorporated it into the design. With the cross, it looks like a religious design which I suppose it is.

Moving down from the ceiling we have a (supply your own superlative again) frieze running round three of the four walls, the fourth wall containing a single painting behind the archbisjop’s chair. Both are the work of Luis de Medina and Alfonso Sanchez. Below the frieze are images of every prelate dating right back to St. Eugene which is like a complete record of the history of the site. I have included a couple of the most recent.

Below that are the seats where the prelates sit during meetings and then we are down to the floor and even that is worth a look as it is very fine tiling but you would expect that in Spain. This is truly a room to make your jaw drop.

The Choir.

Even the most functional items in the cathedral are incredibly ornate and seem to have an absorbing story behind them. Take, for example the choir stalls. What could only be somewhere for the choristers to sit when not singing are complete masterpieces, the work of not a Spaniard but a German named Rodrigo Aleman, although I suspect Rodrigo was not his given name originally.

As a relatively unknown woodcarver he came to Spain in 1489 and recieved a commission for 20 stalls and for once it was not Cardinal Cisneros responsible but his predecessor, Cardinal don Pedro Gonzales de Mendoza. Such was the quality of his work, and I can attest to it on the evidence of my own eyes, he recieved a further commission for another 20 in 1492 and yet more, along with railings and stairs, in 1439. In total there are now 54 stalls, I just hope there are enough choristers to fill them.

The back of each stall is adorned with depictions of a military campaign in the Grenada region of Spain which was part of the Reconquista which was the ultimately succesful effort by Christions to expel the Muslim Moors from the Iberian peninsula. Although the historical veracity of many of the scenes is questioned the quality of the craftsmanship in uncontestable.

What I do find slightly questionable is the motive behind this choice of theme as Cardinal Mendoza had actually been part of the campaign, ministering to the Christian forces. I think this is a touch vain and I thought vanity was not deemed to be a good quality in a cleric.

As one who cannot saw a plank of 4 x 2 without making a mess of it I have always admired the woodcarvers art. I remember some years ago going to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to see an exhibition of the work of Grinling Gibbons who is probably the greatest ever British exponent of the technique. I suspect he would have heartily approved of the efforts of Herr Aleman.

Perhaps my favourite feature of the stalls was the small figure that adorns the partition between each stall. They are all different and often quite whimsical, including all sorts of mythical beasts and indeterminate humanoid demons or similar.

There is nothing to give a sense of scale here but if I told you this artefact is over ten feet tall I’ll bet you would be impressed, I know I was when I saw it. This is the Monstrance of Arfe, also known as La Gran Ostensoria de Toledo and we are back to Cardinal Cisneros for it’s commissioning and the parishioners of Toledo for footing the bill. It is made of silver, much of it gilded, and set with precious stones and again you will have to supply your own superlative as I have just about exhausted my supply.

Not being a religious person I did not know what a monstance or ostensoria is but, had I payed more attention in Latin classes (sorry, Mr. Mulryne), I could perhaps have guessed. Monstrance comes from the Latin word monstrare and ostensoria from ostendere, both of which mean “to show”. I suppose I should have worked it out from English words like demonstration and ostentatious but I was too busy gawping at it to consider the etymology of the nomenclature. Get me with the big words!

Like the choir stalls this is the work of a German, Heinrich von Harff, who took the Spanish name Enrique de Arfe and hence the name of the piece. Harff and Aleman, apart from being brilliant craftsmen are interesting in that they demonstrate a phenomenon that existed for centuries in the early part of the second millennium, the “cathedral builders”.

So far in this one Cathedral we have encountered what would be modern day Germans, Frenchmen, Italians and Spaniards and this was common. The best builders and those with all the skills associated with decorating the structures simply moved around Europe from one project to the next. Most of the great English cathedrals were designed by Frenchmen due to the Norman influence but it was the same everywhere.

The monstrance is clever, and I do not just mean the work. It is designed to resemble the building it is in i.e. a Gothic cathedral. No, it is not a gilded model of Toledo Cathedral but it has all the features of the columns, arches and so on. Unsurprisingly, it took Harff seven years to complete.

Whilst it is a thing of wonder, again I have to question the motivation behind it’s commissioning. Cisneros wanted a grander monstrance than that of Queen Isabella the Catholic which smacks to me a little of jealousy, surely something else frowned upon by the Church. Whilst the Cathedral and it’s artefacts are superb I cannot help but think that they are rather more for the glory of the Cardinals and the local nobility than for the glory of God.

Of all the wonders in the cathedral I am saving what I think is the best until last and, again, I cannot remember having seen anything similar anywhere else. What you see is El Transparente and you can probably guess the meaning of that. It is a later addition to the cathedral, having been built on the commission of Archbishop Diego de Astorga y Céspedes and completed after three years work by Narciso Tomé and his four sons. Frankly, I am not surprised it took that long.

The principle of El Transparente is to utilise the brilliant Spanish sunshine to best effect with a skylight, deliberately positioned to admit most light for the longest period. There is a second opening in the wall behind the altar so light strikes the tabernacle from two directions. Obviously there is a “ceiling” in the cathedral and so a hole had to be cut in that.

Rather than have a simple opening, it is decorated with the most magnificent array of statues depicting Biblical figures. Above that, there is a superb mural painted on the roof. Señor Tomé’s four sons were two architects, a sculptor and a painter and they have combined their respective talents brilliantly in this fantastic piece.

When I found out later that I had missed the national Army Museum in the Alcazár I was a little miffed but that was more than compensated for by the cathedral. I know I would never have made it this far had I visited the museum and you will probably be glad to know that that is all I have to tell you about the Cathedral. Toledo Cathedral is one of the grandest of many such buildings I have been in and if you were to do nothing else in Toledo it would be worth the trip from Madrid for this alone.

Back in the Old Town you can probably guess what happened next. Yes, beer required and another piece of stupidity on my part in that I didn’t even take an image of where it was but I include this image to demonstrate an earlier point about the free bar snacks that always seem to accompany a beer. This lovely little plateful was very tasty but it does beg a question which is how do they make money? All the bars sell food and yet they are trying to fill you up with free food, it makes no sense to me but I love it. If, like me, you enjoy a beer or two, you would not need to buy a meal all day. Just bar hop and you’ll get enough food to keep you going for nothing!

I did rather better at the next pit-stop, the Saga IV, a lovely little place just beside the station. I had jumped on the bus using my day ticket and left myself in good time for my train. Remarkably I had had the foresight to note the times that morning so a nice leisurely couple of beers and then it was back to Madrid on the very pleasant Renfe train. If the Madrid – Toledo run is anything to go by, Renfe impressed me.

Back to the hotel on the Metro to meet up with Siobhan. She was a bit hungry and I had not eaten more that a load of bar snacks all day, tasty as they were so we decided to go out for a bite to eat. There was no point in going all the way back into town so we decided to go local which was no problem as I had seen a little bar five minutes walk away. OK, I lie as I had done more than see it, I had popped in for a quick pint of breakfast one morning and it looked clean and friendly. So it proved to be.

The Aolmar is just my kind of place, a locals spot in a backstreet in a residential area far from the tourist beat. No frills and the food was great. Ham, egg and chips – gorgeous. Her ladyship substituted mushrooms for the ham and it was all lovely. A Incidentally, there is np point in going looking for the Aolmar as it appears to have changed name and presumably ownership now. A couple of beers and it was back to the hotel.

It had been a great day and I am so glad I just went with my gut feeling to go to Toledo, it is usually a good idea to trust your gut. I know this has turned into yet another of my sagas and it was only half a day. If you have made it all the way here, congratulations, you must have a very strong constitution!

In the next episode I do actually get to visit a military museum, plus a civilian one, have another great walk, eat some great Spanish food and drink a lot of beer so no surprise there then. If you want to find out all about it, stay tuned and spread the word.

Author: Fergy.

Hello there. I am a child of the 50's, now retired and had been enjoying travelling pre-virus. Now I am effectively under house arrest. Apart from travelling, I love playing music (guitar, vocals and a bit of percussion) as the profile pic suggests and watching sport, my playing days are long over. I read voraciously, both fiction and nonfiction I'll read just about anything although I do have a particular interest in military history of all periods. I live alone in fairly central London where I have been for over 30 years since leaving Northern Ireland which was the place of my birth. I adore cooking and I can and do read recipe books and watch food programmes on TV / online all day given half a chance.

3 thoughts on “Toledo Two – Madrid #6.”

  1. What a beautiful Cathedral … more reason why we should have visited Toledo when we were in Madrid. To see that huge painting of St Christopher and baby Jesus must have been an awesome sight 😲

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That cathedral is indeed stunning and worth the train ride alone, I would say. I loved the choir stalls and El Transparente in particular. The huge picture of St Christopher reminds me of a funny story. Decades ago Chris and I were being shown around a cathedral in what was then Czechoslovakia by a guide whose English wasn’t the greatest. She stopped at a painting of the same saint and announced ‘And here we have Saint Christopher passing water’. She was totally bewildered when we and the other couple looking around with her all started to snigger!!

    Liked by 1 person

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