Toledo & Segovia 8/03

Home Up Madrid 8/03 Toledo & Segovia 8/03 Cordoba & Seville 8/03

Out of Madrid and into nearby historic regions...

Toledo's Alcazar and Roman Bridge

We did two short day trips from Madrid on Sunday and Monday, each about 50 miles, to see Toledo and Segovia. Toledo offered history, good museums and a cathedral while Segovia offered an alcazar, Gothic cathedral and a spectacular functioning Roman Aqueduct. We used our Iberian rail passes for travel, but both trips had train problems.

Sunday, August 24th - Toledo

 

We took the metro in the morning from our hotel to Madrid's Atocha station (atrium, first picture below) and headed southwest 43 miles to Toledo. The train unexplainably stopped in Algodor, 15 miles from Toledo, and we were herded onto buses for the rest of the trip. From Toledo's train station, we took a taxi up the hill to El Greco's museum, which was well hidden, but worthwhile (second and third pictures below). Across the street, Museo Victorio Macho overlooks the Tajo River gorge (fourth picture below).

 

Segovia's Plaza Azoguejo at the Roman Aqueduct

We walked up the hill to Santo Tome', which houses El Greco's "Burial of the Count of Orgaz" (first picture below - more explanation on the art page). Toledo's cathedral had strange hours, but at least kept to them (unlike Seville's). The second and third pictures below show an exterior and interior shot. From the cathedral, we walked to Plaza Zocodover just inside the ancient walls (fourth picture below) where we munched mazapans (a local sweet fruity pastry) and then caught the #6 bus back to the train station. From just outside the train station there was a good view of the alcazar (closed for remodeling until 2005) and ancient city walls (large picture, top of page left). Again we were herded onto buses to Algodor to catch the train to Madrid, but this time the buses were about 100F - the bus ride from hell. No signs, no explanations and no one spoke any English at the train stations. We caught the metro back to the hotel and had a good dinner in the Spanish restaurant there. The best wine of trip was there as well: La Rioja Alta, SA, Vino Ardanza '96 Reserva Rioja, which goes for about $22 a bottle retail. We finished the day with espresso's at Starbucks.

Monday, August 25th - Segovia

 

We metroed again in the late morning to Madrid's Atocha station and headed 50 miles northwest to Segovia, which at 3000 feet promised cooler temperatures. The train ride there showed the changes of ecosystems going from desert to pine forest. From the train station, we taxied up the hill to the alcazar (first picture below) which offered good aerial views from its tower of the desert plains (second picture below) and the walled city (third picture below). From the alcazar, we walked to the cathedral (fourth picture below) which had a good collection of interior elements from the flamboyant last phases of Gothic design.

From the cathedral, we headed down the pedestrian street to the real prize in Segovia, the 2000 year old Roman Aqueduct. It has 118 arches and was built without any mortar. Stairs allow you to climb right to the top. The exposed portion of the (still working) aqueduct towers 100 feet above the Plaza Azoguejo (large picture, top of page right and four views below). We grabbed some snacks at a shop in the plaza and taxied back to the train station.

The return trip to Madrid on the train became another event. For no apparent reason, the train stopped at a deserted train station 25 miles out of Madrid. The RENFE train people, none of whom spoke any English, told everyone to get off. Some said something about a bus out front (none was there), others said to take a train headed back to Segovia and others just refused to answer or point when we asked "Madrid?". Some of the other passengers who spoke English found a schedule and thought that a train on another track was headed to Guadalajara, which meant it had to pass through Madrid's northern train station, Chamartin. Some people got upset, but everyone took a different course. Ben and I figured the Guadalajara train was at least headed in the right direction, so we took it. Good decision - we got to Chamartin station and were able to metro it back to our hotel and then plan for our next day in Cordoba and Seville.

Home Up Madrid 8/03 Toledo & Segovia 8/03 Cordoba & Seville 8/03

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