En Route to Madrid

Goodbye Parador

This morning we got to enjoy a super fancy breakfast at our Parador before checking out and getting on the road. The breakfast had such a huge selection of food, it was crazy! They even had fresh churros with chocolate for dipping. Yum!

Toledo

Our ultimate destination was Madrid, but we decided to make a slight detour to see the city of Toledo, which was a major Spanish city in the Middle Ages. I had read online that driving and parking in the actual walled city was pretty difficult, so we found a "free" parking lot just outside the city walls and paid a guy standing out front a two euro tip to watch our car.

Just outside the parking lot, we came across the ruins of a monastery from the 13th century, which was pretty neat.

From the ruins, we headed to a nearby set of escalators that provide access to the center of the city, which is located on the top of a very steep hill. As we rode up the escalators, we felt like we were on our way up the escalators at Universal Studios.

In a lot of ways, the city felt like the quintessential tourist destination. It was filled with a ton of restaurants and shops selling all kinds of Middle Ages-themed souvenirs.

Although we weren't interested in buying a bunch of knives, axes, or suits of armor, we did enjoy some great views of the city and countryside below.

We also had fun checking out the historic city gates, a nice park, and the city's main plaza and cathedral.

(I really liked the pose of the statue below. He's clearly working it.)

Madrid

Once we had our fill of Toledo, we rode the escalators back down and got in our car to head to the Madrid airport to turn in our rental car. We were very happy to say adios to the Nissan Juke and continue the rest of our trip car-free.

At the airport, we figured out how to buy metro tickets for Madrid's nice but very confusing metro system and headed to our hotel.

Our hotel is located in the arts/theatre area of the city and is themed as such. We are staying on the "writer's floor" in the Cervantes room. The wall has a fun Don Quixote design, which seemed quite fitting since we had driven through La Mancha and seen the windmills not so long ago.

After checking into our hotel, we walked to a well-rated paella restaurant that was slightly out of the main touristy area near our hotel. We got a taste of some of the impressive architecture (intermixed with quite a bit of construction) in the city on the way to dinner.

Our paella was really good and at the end of our meal, the chef brought out glasses of Hierbas, which is a Spanish digestive, for us to try for free! It was kinda weird tasting (Dylan thought it tasted like rosemary) but fun to try.

We enjoyed seeing some of the buildings lit up on our way back to the hotel, and then called it a night.