September 2011 - trip led by Carol Mantle

Report by Robert Cope
Photos are by Marin Dugandzic

We met outside the Wok in Moraira at 8.10am (about the time we used to go to work!!)
and boarded our comfortable coach for departure at 8.30am, destination Toledo.

Following a comfort break after a couple hours travelling, we moved on to Chinchón where most of us took the opportunity to lunch in the beautiful Plaza Mayor in the centre of the town where numerous restaurants fill its supports. The Plaza Mayor is sometimes used as an improvised theatre or bull fight arena.

After lunch some of us went off to explore the town but, unfortunately, found nearly all the usual sightseeing venues closed. Did they know we were coming?!
  Plaza Mayor, Chinchón
Plaza Mayor, Chinchón
  Chinchón panorama
Chinchón panorama

View from rooftop of the hotel
View from rooftop of the hotel
  We arrived in Toledo late afternoon with our hotel, Carlos V, conveniently situated near the centre for easy walking around the city.

Some went exploring straight away or to find a suitable place to eat later on. In our case, Robin and Elkie Woods found a very reasonably priced restaurant not far from the hotel which fourteen of us went to with the expectation Robin was going to foot the bill. We were disappointed!!

  Cathedral tower taken from rooftop of the hotel
Cathedral tower taken from rooftop of the hotel

Tuesday morning the topic of conversation at breakfast was the lack of cold water in the bathrooms
making washing and showering somewhat hazardous. However, we were assured that this would be
sorted out during the day, and so it was.

Our intrepid organiser, Carol Mantle, had arranged for a guided tour of Toledo for Tuesday morning. We met our guides in the Plaza Zocodover, being split into two groups. Our guide, Fernando, once our ears got used to his broken English, proved to be excellent with his explanations of the architecture and history of the various buildings, including the magnificent Cathedral.   Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo (Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo)
Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo
(Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo)
  photo taken from our hotel rooftop
Night capture taken from the hotel rooftop,
the cathedral dominating the scene.

Plaza Zocodover, Toledo
Night shot of Plaza Zocodover, Toledo
  Calle Cordonerís in the old town
Night shot of Calle Cordonerís in the old town

Fernando then took us to Simians, a shop selling typical Toledo jewellery and swords, where we saw three craftsmen making intricate pieces using gold thread. It was noticeable that of the three craftsmen, the two elder ones needed glasses to work, but the younger one didn't.  
El Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes
El Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes
(Monastery of Saint John of the Kings)

The tour continued with a visit to the old Jewish Quarter and Saint John of the Kings Church.
Outside the church is a statue of Queen Isabella. Fernando explained that Isabella made it a
condition of her marriage to Ferdinand that she should have an equal say in the running of Spain.
Perhaps he should have considered himself lucky to get away with only having to give up half
of the decision making in his marriage!!

panoramic view of Toledo
panoramic view of Toledo with the river Tagus.
Alcázar of Toledo is at the top right
  The afternoon was free enabling us to do our own exploring. We spent a good hour in the Cathedral marvelling at the wonderful stone and woodwork. The Alcázar (now an army museum) was another magnificent building that attracted some of us but, unless you were heavily into the military history of Spain, could become a little monotonous after a couple of hours.  
Street scene
Street scene
Calle de Santo Tomé in the old town

Puente de San Martín
Puente de San Martín
The Bridge of Saint Martin at the river Tagus

Wednesday was our trip to Talavera, about an hour's drive away. Our guide was Manu. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that he skipped English classes at school.

He first took us to a ceramics factory where we were given a demonstration by a Potter at his wheel and his wife decorating the finished items. This was followed by a tour of Talavera which began with approximately sixty of us and ended with about twelve! The "Deserters" had lost
  interest and sidled off discreetly during the tour, but joined forces again in the bar/restaurant near the coach pick-up point.

It appeared that many of the Deserters of the fairer sex found the interior of El Corte Inglés of more historical and architectural interest, including my wife but, to her credit, she did not spend the hundred pesetas I gave her!!
Talavera de la Reina
Talavera de la Reina
The ceramics are being hand painted in a local ceramic shop

9-30am Thursday morning we set off on our journey home to Moraira. Lunch was at the Bodega La Tercia in Alcázar De San Juan. We were first entertained by one of the owners giving us the history of the business and the type of award winning wines that they produce.

The talk included a wine tasting session which, if left to their U3A visitors, would probably have accounted for the years profits!
at the local bodega <i>La Tercia</i>
Wine tasting at the local bodega La Tercia in Alcázar de San Juan

Then began the long journey home, although the tedium was relieved by firstly a short stop in Don Quixote country to see the windmills at Mota del Cuervo, and, secondly, by the wine-induced sleep.   The windmills in Mota del Cuervo
The windmills in Mota del Cuervo
  The windmills in Mota del Cuervo
The windmills in Mota del Cuervo

Thanks must go to Carol Mantle for her efforts in organising the trip, never an easy task,
and to Anne Cattle, her effervescent sidekick.

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