mooninspain

Food, Travel , Life and more Food in Spain

Archive for the tag “Toledo”

My Favorite Places in Spain………. #1 Toledo part 2

I could probably write a book about Toledo and all of my lovely experiences I’ve had there but that will have to wait for another point in my life.  After all, it did rank number 1 for many reasons. Toledo is one place where I never tire of wandering through the streets and monuments.  Every time I walk through the city I see something new and learn more about the history and layers of this medieval treasure.  One night many years ago as I was strolling through the narrow cobblestone streets with some students I ran into my dear friend Mario leading his group on a nighttime tour.  From this moment on I decided to include this as  part of any tour of mine that sleeps in Toledo.  Each city takes on a different persona when the sun goes down.  The moon, darkness and city lights completely change the feeling and security that daytime holds.  A nighttime visit in Toledo is filled with legends, mysteries and intrigue.  One of my favorite expressions in Spanish is “pasar una noche Toledana” which describes when one has had a sleepless night for one reason or another.  Historically, the saying refers to a bloody massacre that occurred in the year 797 when a cruel Governor invited all of the nobleman of Toledo to his home for a banquet.  As they entered his home one by one, they were beheaded and tossed into a ditch.

On a lighter note, I’ve enjoyed some great meals in Toledo with many wonderful friends.  I’ve also enjoyed some quiet afternoons and nights alone with a tapa and glass of wine.  This past June I went for a cold beer at a restaurant that I have frequented through the years because it is next door to the hotel where I often sleep.  It is a bit of a dive and I usually only go in for a quick drink.  Well, in June I was surprised with  a tapa of one of the best Croquetas I have ever eaten.  It was quite ugly as you can see, but the flavor was perfect.

I’ve had a few memorable meals at a restaurant named Casa Aurelio where they serve tender meat that you cook to your liking on a hot brick.   Another favorite place of mine is El Hostal del Cardenal which is a breathtaking hotel and restaurant connected to the walls of the city.  The restaurant offers beautiful gardens where you can enjoy a wonderful meal or cold drink and feel as if you are part of a medievil film.  However, there is a place that I always tend to go to when I am up near the main plaza of the city, Zocodover.  It is called El Cason de los Lopez.  This building from the XVI century is located on a street that was once famous for typical “mesones”  or  a XVI century bed and breakfast, where Miguel de Cervantes used to eat and rest.  The main floor of the building is part of an interior patio with a bar and rustic, informal dining area.  In the bar you can order a mixed plate of Manchego cheese and cured local sausages.  It is delicious.  My friend Alex and I discovered it while catching up on each others lives over some local wine from Castilla la Mancha.  And I ordered it again to share with two of my favorite dining partners this summer.  The picture is taken by my friend Melissa.  After we had already eaten more than half of the plate…………

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my favorite places in Spain…… #1 Toledo part one

full moon from the gate of bisagra

full moon from the gate of Bisagra, Toledo

It is inevitable that at one point during every tour someone will ask the question, “What is your favorite city in Spain?”.  This  is almost impossible for me to answer. Certain cities become a favorite because of their magic and beauty.  Others become a favorite because of memories and moments.  And some embrace both for me.   Although my list is ever changing, there are always a few that rank at the top.  I never include Granada because it is a constant in my life, an ongoing affair of love and life.

Toledo caught my heart from day one not due to its beauty and history, but because it proposed a great challenge to me.  The incredible ease at which one could get lost within its streets.  And lost, I have been.  Luckily I have been blessed to have spent many nights in Toledo and now it is a rarity that I get lost in its labyrinth of small passageways and dead ends.  For me, Toledo is an outdoor museum.  Sometimes I close my eyes as I wander about and I can feel the history that has passed through it’s cobblestone streets.  Last March after being under the city to visit the old Arabic baths we climbed up to the top of one of the main gates of Toledo, La Puerta de Bisagra.  The city was bathed in the light of the full “super” moon.  The immense beauty caused our group of 30 thirteen year olds to fall silent.  Something quite difficult to achieve.

Apart from the city itself, friendship has also tied me to Toledo throughout the past 15 years.  My friend Mario is one of the people in Spain who has taught me how to really enjoy the moment.  No matter where we meet up to have a beer or eat lunch he always has one of those flashes where he looks up, nodding his head and says, “has visto que bonito es?”.  Can you see just how beautiful it is? Not only has he shown me some of the most wonderful views, restaurants and bars in the city but he also reminds me continually about how to savor every second of life.  In 2011 I spent the night in Toledo with 4 different groups and all of them coincided with a full moon. I realize this is just coincidental but it adds to the magic. In June I watched the entire lunar eclipse from a beautiful lookout point over the city. Accompanied by a friend and a gin tonic garnished with black pepper.   As I fell asleep that night my life felt like a bit of a dream.

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