Madrid or Toledo?

Old Nov 21st, 2023, 06:41 AM
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Madrid or Toledo?

I am planning a return to Mexico for Oct /Nov next year and have decided to fly from London via Madrid. We could fly direct but we are using Avios plus an Amex Companion ticket and the points required and the taxes due, are virtually half those flying direct from LHR. (hence the reason I am booking so far in advance). The tax saving alone will cover the cost of LHR-MAD flights and a few nights accommodation.

My question is really which one should I go for , Madrid or Toledo? I have been to both before but very briefly and so long a go that I can't really recall much about either. Ardent foodies so that would be a factor (both for restaurants - esp. tapas and food markets for restocking home supplies!). Usual tourist stuff but dont necessarily feel they need for galleries or museums.

From what I can see, it is a pretty easy train ride from Madrid airport to Toledo and I am far enough ahead in planning to book conveniently timed flights.

Any thoughts or suggestions from those in the know would be appreciated! Any suggestions for places to stay would also be helpful - price mid range, say €100-150 pn. We are Parador fans but the one in Toledo seems way out of the city centre for just a couple of days.

TIA
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Old Nov 21st, 2023, 08:15 AM
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Hi, crellston,

My immediate reaction is “Toledo!” It’s such a characterful small city, with many smaller sights to see, and the cathedral there is one of my all-time favorites. We loved the city and it was a very easy train ride. I’m not a foodie so can’t speak to the restaurants there, though I don’t think you’d have a problem finding good food there. The hotel we stayed in, Hotel Santa Isabel, was a perfect place to stay (and I’d spring for a room with a cathedral view):
https://www.guestreservations.com/ho...xoCqtYQAvD_BwE

Of course, Madrid is a wonderful city, but it’s a large city. For me, it’s the museums that are the really big draw. There’s also a great food market and I would imagine that the food there is world class.

But Toledo is so much fun!
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Old Nov 21st, 2023, 09:14 AM
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crellston,
I've stayed at the Toledo Parador several times, but only with a car and only on my way down south. It's not convenient for touring at all and requires either taking one's car down to the city and parking in an underground garage ($$) or taking a taxi or Uber back and forth (8-9 euros each way).

For food lovers in Toledo---Taberna Botero for food and wines by the glass, La Orza, La Clandestina, Alfileritos 24, La Fábrica de Harinas or to splash out, Adolfo, up in the hills.

In Madrid hotel rates have gone up, way up, in the last year and are pricier than Toledo's. It's hard to find a nice hotel for under 150 that's very centrally located (check booking.com for its current Black Friday sales, but be careful of the location). Of course, the dates of your stay will determine the rate; they fluctuate so very much. The new Motel One (a snappy German chain) right off the renovated Plaza de España is our ¨go to¨ for Christmas-New Year's when we stay downtown (we live in the 'burbs). We've stayed there several times when watching our budget carefully when rates have soared.

That said, Madrid is one of Europe's most exciting gastronomic capitals these days.
The OAD (Opinionated About Dining) awards were given out this year in Madrid and the Madrid Fusión gastronomic conference is coming up in Jan. brining chefs in from all over the world. For an ardent food lover, there's a great deal to enjoy here.

Chef David Muñoz of DiverXO, RavioXO and StreetXO yesterday in Mérida was named for the 3rd consecutive year, "Best Chef in the World". There have been so many new and exciting openings this past year, I can't keep up with them.

And Mercado de la Paz in the Salamanca district and Mercado de Anton Martin in La Latina are great food markets with some amazing small dining spots (Casa Dani and Oh Délice Bistrot in La Paz, LaLópez in Antón Martín--they just won an ¨honorable mention¨ Metrópoli award last night for best restaurant for under 40/p).
Plus at the Gourmet Experience of El Corte Inglés in Sol and its basement supermarket will have everything under the sun (I spend the entire day at my local ECI Hipercor in the burbs and marveled at the vast selection).

Last edited by Maribel; Nov 21st, 2023 at 10:02 AM.
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Old Nov 21st, 2023, 06:57 PM
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I vote for Toledo, then again, I am a Chowhound not a foodie.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 12:03 AM
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Many thanks all. Looks like Toledo it is! One of the easier decisions I have made recently!

progol - thank you for the hotel suggestion. Exactly the sort of place I was seeking and less than half the price of the Parador - I do love a bargain..

Maribel, thanks for confirming my suspicions re the Toledo Parador. Much as I love them ( we did one of the Parador routes a few years and really enjoyed it, but we would waste a lot of usable time going to and from. Thanks also for the restaurant comments. I may have to alter my plan and spend the last night of our journey in Motel One and splash out on a last dinner one of those places. Thanks also for the suggestion of El Cortes de Ingles . I had forgotten about those shops. We were regular visitors to the one near Malaga when we lived in Andalusia for a while. Excluding Japan , one of the most incredible food halls ever.

Thanks for your vote shelemm. Though what is a "Chowhound"?
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 12:23 AM
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crellston,
I remember that you spent time house sitting (?) in Antequera so you're familiar with the Andalusian El Corte Inglés supermarkets.

We discovered the new Motel One in a booking.com search for reasonable hotel rates for the Christmas season. The staff is pleasant, beds are comfortable, showers good, towels thick and it delivers some style for the money. I never stayed in the area of the Plaza de España before, but now since the complete remodeling of the Plaza and the wonderful urban park and walkway they've created between the Plaza and the Royal Palace, it´s a pleasant place to base, although further from our favorite restaurants in other neighborhoods.

Brutalista is around the corner, which is a "hot" place to dine these days---40 euro menu (the one I chose). The chef, Pablo López (nice guy) chats with you and presents the options in each course for the day (market driven) and you choose which dish you want for each course plus how many courses you want. Repsol Guide recommended. Similar in style to a contemporary Parisian bistro. Minimalist décor but very creative food.
https://brutalista.es

There was once a food-related site called Chowhound. It no longer exists but some of the regular posters (ekscrunchy and I, for example) have migrated to Hungry Onion to take about restaurant experiences on the Italy, Spain, Portugal board. The France board is currently the most active.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 03:48 AM
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<<progol - thank you for the hotel suggestion. Exactly the sort of place I was seeking and less than half the price of the Parador - I do love a bargain>>

I’m sure you will like Santa Isabel but I just want to give credit where credit is due - I found this hotel thanks to Maribel, whose guides I used extensively when we went to Spain in 2015. Maribel’s recommendations and advice are always right on the mark!
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by crellston

Thanks for your vote shelemm. Though what is a "Chowhound"?
As Maribel said, it was a food website which no longer exists. But not just any site, it had a manifesto that was designed to scare away foodies. At times, people did not hold back their opinions..... or scorn. It was fun. And intense. The collective knowledge was astounding. If someone asked a question about eggs, you might see responses from an egg farmer, a nutritionist, a food scientist, and from people in a variety of countries that could chime in on how eggs are stored and sold around the world.

This article says it better than anything else I can point to:

https://www.kqed.org/arts/13910817/c...tting-down-rip
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Old Nov 23rd, 2023, 12:20 AM
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they are 2 different realities, Madrid is a metropolis, Toledo a town of medieval origins. You can still visit Toledo in one day and return to Madrid. There are trains which take around 30 minutes or buses 1 hour
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Old Nov 23rd, 2023, 01:53 AM
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I enjoyed both Madrid and Toledo. Madrid undeniably offered superior public transportation, food variety, and shopping options. However, Toledo's historic old town is spectacular. While Madrid has more logical advantages, there was just something about Toledo that won me over. 🥰
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Old Nov 23rd, 2023, 04:59 AM
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Hi Shelemm - thanks for the explanation. I assumed it was something to do with dog food.

Re "it had a manifesto that was designed to scare away foodies" Wow! I had no idea anti-foodieism was a thing! When I said we were "ardent foodies" I just meant that we enjoy good food whether that be at a market stall, a Michelin starred restaurant and everything in between rather than needing to know the nitty gritty of how eggs etc. are stored. That said, I do cure my own bacon, smoke fish etc and for those things I do enjoy finding out about the provenance of stuff I use. I will no doubt seek out and bring back an Iberico ham leg as that is beyond my capabilities (and patience!)
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Old Nov 23rd, 2023, 05:10 AM
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Maribel,

Yes we were in a small town quite close to Antequera. Most of our shopping was done in the local Mercadona but it was always enjoyable to head off the El Cortes now and again. the produce was amazing. Quite sad I know , but we do visiting supermarkets when we travel whether it be LA, Tokyo or Madrid!

Motel One does look good. We have used Ibis Styles a lot on our travels and they seem to be very similar. I seem to have run out of Accor points for Ibis so may give M! a go if we do stop a night in Madrid
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Old Nov 23rd, 2023, 07:13 AM
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Yes, Ibis Styles is very similar, as in the one I used to stay in, Ibis Styles Prado, on Calle Prado in Barrio de las Letras, handy to the Art Triangle.

I love supermarkets too, and yesterday I spent almost the entire day at my local ECI Hipercor, which had all of its Christmas items on display with a whole section of turrones the size of a small market. The Roscón de Reyes cakes were already available for sale.

Just a quick note about Toledo, although you note that you don´t necessarily feel the need for galleries or museums--
If you choose a Monday in Toledo, please note that the El Greco Museum, the Alcázar Military Museum and the Synagogue of the Transit/Sephardic Museum are closed on Mondays.

On Sundays the cathedral doesn't open for tourist visits until 2 pm but closes at 6:30 pm.

Monuments remain open in the winter season until 5:45-6 pm and in spring/summer/fall until 6:00- 7:30 pm. depending on the site.

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Old Nov 23rd, 2023, 10:50 AM
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Be sure to ride the TrainVision tourist train from Plaza de Zocodover out to Mirador del Valle and back. Great view back to Toledo (below). Below also are links to the last two days we spent in Toledo.
https://travelswithmaitaitom.com/cha...ersing-toledo/
https://travelswithmaitaitom.com/cha...n-holy-toledo/


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Old Nov 29th, 2023, 08:31 AM
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Wow! Some photo! Will have a read of your blog.
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