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Back from Madrid, Segovia and Toledo

Old May 12th, 2009, 05:59 AM
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amsdon is offline  
Old May 12th, 2009, 07:50 AM
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We are off to Sepulveda, Hoces Del Duration National Reserve and Pedraza.

Our plan was to drive north to Sepulveda spend some time there then go to the national preserve drive through for some photo opps then head to Pedraza for our 3:00PM reservation at El Yantar.

We arrived in Sepuveda early morning and during the week so we had the town pretty much tourist free. It is a nice drive to the top with nice spots to stop and admire the views.

We parked our rental car and walked to El Salvador Church. Built in 1093, it makes you wonder how good the building process was back so long ago. The church was empty but we had time to appreciate the different style of this structure.
My wife likes to take pictures of doors when we travel and on our walk we spotted some that will make her collection.
This is a pretty village that is spotless and we enjoyed walking the many small narrow streets. We also acted like tourists taking pictures of the storks in all of the chimneys that we saw. Now it makes sense to the old fairytale that babies come from storks and they drop them down the chimney.
We also went to the town museum (Museo de los Fueros) and learned some of the history of this quaint old town.

We now drove to see Santa Maria de la Pena Shrine just outside of Sepulveda and on to the national reserve.

After a quick ride and some photos at the national reserve we headed to Pedraza.

We arrived in Pedrazza and once again there were very few tourists mid week at the end of April. It is just as everyone said, it almost looks as though it was made for Hollywood for a movie.

The square had a few other tourists and a few locals but was quiet and had a strange but nice peaceful atmosphere to it.

I would like to experience a weekend here just to see the difference and to see this square full of life.

We visited the castle and walked through some of the shops and again enjoyed the little narrow alleys and roads. It is so easy for us to appreciate a village like this since a home built in my home town in the 1800's is considered historic.

It was time for our reservation at El Yantar! We arranged to have a table on the balcony overlooking the square. It is so peaceful sitting there that your mind just wanders as you look at the storks flying above you.
There was no need to see a menu we knew what we wanted and ordered the roasted lamb a salad and the white asparagus. A bottle of house wine and their basket of bread.

We were there about twenty minutes and I looked behind us and every table on the balcony was full and most of the tables in the upstairs reataurant were also full. I did not think there were that many people in the town.

The lamb arrived and again it held up to its high reviews.It was delicious. They serve the largest white asparagus I have ever seen. Their house wine was very good and the view rounds out a great experience.

We took a leisurely stroll around the main square to imprint Pedraza in our minds, and it was time to drive back to Madrid. The following morning is our trip to Toledo.
HarryS is offline  
Old May 13th, 2009, 12:15 PM
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Comfy shoes,
Pedraza and Sepulveda are easy day trips from Madrid. Sometimes it is nice to go to a small village with quiet streets and enjoy the atmosphere.
I was a little tense about driving in Spain but as long as I did not drive in Madrid it was easy.
HarryS is offline  
Old May 13th, 2009, 01:57 PM
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This is fun to read! Nice report, HarryS. My mouth is watering from your Segovian meal description. What a pretty city. I am glad you went to Avila, even under construction; St Teresa is one of my favorites (an interesting woman) and I have a little framed painting of the walled city that reminds me of visiting there. I also loved the Thyssen museum; I finally went to it on my last trip to Spain in 2005 and it was a great surprise for me.

The Rastro - I still have a funky old metal cross that I bought there the first time I went to Spain when I was a high school student many many years ago. Great memory.

Looking forward to your impressions of Toledo...
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Old May 13th, 2009, 03:43 PM
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We are going to Madrid in Sept. and I would be anxious to know which of the posts you used as helpful when you wrote: "we were lucky enough to get to spend a couple of hours in each museum and we used the information from your posts to help us find the gems these museums offer." I am anxious to see the Sorolla exhibit but would hate to miss out on any other gems. Thanks, Karen
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Old May 13th, 2009, 07:46 PM
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Harry so glad you made it. Did your wife like the door to the castle in Pedraza? It's neato no?
amsdon is offline  
Old May 15th, 2009, 05:03 AM
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Maribels guides will help you with some insider information on the museums of Madrid. I would also read ekscrunchy, amsdon,revulgo and Maribels posts. I probably missed some others and I appologise for those. I also used Eyewitness travel Madrid guide book.

Yes we did get a picture of the door to Pedraza castle, most of the doors we take pictures of are residential. But we can not pass up a good door.
HarryS is offline  
Old May 15th, 2009, 06:11 AM
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We took the train to Toledo and it is a very nice quick ride. The trains are quiet and comfortable. We arrived at the train station and followed the crowd to the bus stop and got off at Zocudover Plaza.

From another post it was suggested that we buy tickets for the train-car that departs from the plaza. We bought tickets and had a twenty minute wait so we went to the bakery Santo Tome Mazzapan. Here we bought a pastry and waited for the train-car. The pastry was excellent and we knew we would be back later to buy Mazzapan.
The train-car is a GREAT idea! It is a forty minute ride around Toledo and brings you just outside of the city to see the walls and the river and views of the cathedral. Well worth the money. They stopped at good vantage points to allow you an opportunity to take pictures and there is a nice recording in english giving you some folklore and history of the city.

The cathedral is one of the most impressive I have seen. I have traveled through-out Italy and was not sure if a Cathedral would impress me but this one sure does! The high altar reredos is awsome.
We also enjoyed Iglesia de Santo Tome and a short visit to Museo de Santa Cruz. There is a lot more to see and do in Toledo and we will go back with more time to spend in this wonderful city.
We did find a nice tapas bar in Toledo La Abadia in Nunez de Arce. If anyone remembers my first post on going to Spain it was about Tapas and how they worked.
We thought a day in Toledo would be enough but it really needs at least two with an overnight.
We went back to Zocodover Plaza and bought eight small boxes of Mazzapan at Sano Tome to bring home to family and friends.

We walked back to the train station since it is all down hill going back and we find walking is the best way for us to see and remember where we have been.
Toledo, has so much more to offer then what I have wriiten here. Spend a night and at least part of another day to get the best of your visit. My next trip I will take my own advise and revisit with more time.

Our trip is coming to an end with one last day in Madrid. We took the train back to Madrid and spent the rest of the evening trying to visit some reccomended tapas bars. (Maribel your guides are getting too much attention all of your reccomendations on tappas are so busy you have to wait to get in)
We finished off our last night at the Hilton Airport hotel and went to their hydro-thermal pool. This is a nice way to end a walking vacation. After the pool they have plush robes and heated lounge chairs. Very relaxing.
We have a 1:00 PM non stop flight to Newark, NJ so the last morning was a quick trip tp Plaza Mayor. One last look at Madrid. It is Saturday morning and the Gran Via and Plaza Mayor are busy as we have seen this visit.

Madrid is a great city with wonderful people. I was visiting at low season and it was still at times very crowded. School trips were at every museum and attraction but the lines were manageable. I see some posts that people were disapointed in Madrid and I would like to advise them to visit the parks and gardens when you need a break from the crowds. We did this and some of our fondest memories will be our escape from the crowds.

As I have said before Segovia is my new favorite city in Spain. It is just the right size with many things to do and see. It is a great place to stay while day tripping to Pedraza and Sepulveda.

Thanks again to all of you who helped with my trip planning and offered suggestions and posted your individual experiences. We would have never gone to Pedraza or Sepuveda if not for your posts.

Without them my trip would not have been half as good. We always look for some non tourist sights and experiences and your posts provided many options. I look forward to reading your posts as you continue to travel to Spain.
HarryS is offline  
Old May 15th, 2009, 07:20 AM
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Hi Harry,
Sorry your report has come to an end! Really enjoyed reading it and happy to know you'll be going back. I agree with you that Toledo is endowed with so many artistic and cultural riches, it does merit an overnight just to see them all.
Nice job, Harry!
Maribel is offline  
Old May 15th, 2009, 07:50 AM
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I just found this trip report, and I'm glad I did. Thanks for sharing.
Nikki is online now  
Old May 15th, 2009, 08:01 AM
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It is good to see you suggesting an overnight in Toledo. So many just "do" Toledo as a day trip and it is a shame. Toledo has much to offer and takes on a completely different character at night after the day trippers leave.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Old May 15th, 2009, 01:45 PM
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Hello HarryS, Thank you for your previous post. I agree with you. BTW, I am not just a little tense while driving in Spain. I am a lot tense. Then again it is better than some other parts of the world where I simply can't drive!

You did a very nice report on your short trip. Thank you for taking the time to do it.
ComfyShoes is offline  
Old May 15th, 2009, 07:03 PM
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Oh how sad it's over....what a nice report Harry.
Did you have the rice pudding? (I forgot)

You sound like a fun guy.
amsdon is offline  
Old May 16th, 2009, 01:43 PM
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I am glad you enjoyrd the report. It is nice to reflect on the recent memories as I posted.

We did have the rice pudding! It was great. We also had a variation with cinnamon ice cream and citrus on top of the rice pudding.
The people, the history, the quaint little villages as well as the cities, and the food of Spain will bring us back. And reading the posts here will keep it fresh in our minds.
HarryS is offline  
Old May 17th, 2009, 12:45 AM
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HarryS - enjoyed reading your report and reliving some of our very recent (one month ago!!) experiences. Thanks!!
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Old Jul 9th, 2009, 08:27 AM
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Old Jul 9th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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wow. great report. we are spending one night in segovia..your trip makes me wish we would be there longer.
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Old Jul 9th, 2009, 06:00 PM
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planning a trip to Spain, seems like there is a lot of good information in this report.

Thanks for posting

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