Madrid, is located on the Manzanares River in the center of both the country and the Community of Madrid; bordered by Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. Madrid is the capital city of Spain, and residence of the Spanishmonarch and is considered the cultural hub of Spain. Madrid is an amazing city, it’s busy, hectic and traffic is everywhere. Make a point to visit the spectacular 350 Acre Buen Retiro Park. Located in the center of Madrid itboasts sculpted gardens and a man-made lake which is a welcome refuge from the heat of the city.
I would suggest two days in Madrid and move onto to a place less visited than most, Toledo. Just hop a bus for about an hour ride outside of Madrid and you will find yourself in one of the most beautiful towns in Spain.
Toledo sits high above the Tagus River and dates back to 192BC. Once ruled by the (surprise) Romans, the ruins from the Roman Circus still stand and can be seen today just outside the walls of the old city. Toledo, once the capital city is densely packed with old stone houses seemingly built atop of each other. If you catch the right breeze you can hear the rush of the Tagus River that sits just below. Red tile roofs and quaint cobblestone streets lined with coffee shops, small boutiques offering samples of cheese, olives small cakes and espresso. Just when you think it can’t get any better, you come across another shop offering 8oz coffee mugs filled with rich sinful calorie laden hot chocolate. Not like the one we know, this one is actual bars of deep dark near black chocolate, melted to sheer perfection poured from copper tins into your mug for a mouth watering feast. Just writing about it makes me want to fly back and grab another mug full. But it is holiday time, so go ahead, besides, with all the walking you’ll do the calories will just melt away (sort of).
For one of the best views, take the side streets (walking is best) go up along the opposite side of the town for one of the most spectacular views of the town. On the right you will see The Alcázar of Toledo which is an old stone fortification located at the highest part of the town and during the 3rd century was used as the Roman Palace. To the right is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo. It was begun in 1226 under the rule of Ferdinand III and the last Gothic contributions were made in the 15th century when, in 1493, the vaults of the central nave were finished during the time of the Catholic Monarchs. I am always taken by the size of these centuries old Cathedrals. They are massive in volume and space. Just the fact they remain unscathed by human hands and bombs for centuries upon centuries is cause for celebration. I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but
we are constantly repairing something in our small ranch houses here in San Diego yet these structures remain for all of us to enjoy today.
I know you’ve heard me say it time and time again, get out there. It’s a very small planet and we can fly just about anywhere in just a few hours. I have often joked, “Breakfast in California, lunch in New York and dinner in Athens”.
Summer is here and we only come this way once, unless you believe otherwise, and even then I want proof. Take advantage of the opportunities we all have and go see the world, it’s just there over the hill or across the pond waiting for you.
Spain is on the Euro and as I write this the Euro is at 1.36 to the dollar. Which translates to every dollar has a spending value of .64 cents. But honestly folks, spend it and enjoy, it’s your holiday. Amazing sites await and you are only limited by your imagination.
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