Toledo, Madrid and Toronto

March 8, 2024 5:08 am

Toledo: February 28 – March 1

Toledo was once the capital of Spain and known as the “City of the Three Cultures”. Christians, Muslims, and Jews peacefully coexisted throughout history here. The cultural influences are reflected in the well-preserved synagogues, mosques, and cathedrals.

The Toledo Cathedral is considered one of Spain’s most important cathedrals. The temple dates back many centuries, but has only existed as a Christian church since the nineteenth century. The temple was built on top of a Muslim mosque, and in the sixth century it was a church! Early repurposing!

You can’t usually get this close – such detail!

The beauty of the Toledo Cathedral took our breath away!

Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes was built in the 15th century and the monastery and church feature an incredible display of Gothic and Mudéjar architecture.

The Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca is a museum and the former synagogue was erected in the late 12th / early 13th century. It is considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe (still standing). The building was converted to a Catholic church in the early 15th century.

We stayed in an Airbnb in the Jewish Quarter of Toledo and spent hours exploring the neighbourhoods, OR you could say, we tried to find our way around and out of the many narrow cobbled streets. It was a maze!

Small blue tiles in the pavement and ancient walls marked the former Jewish Quarter and led the way through the city’s Jewish history and heritage. Tiles of the Menorah and the Hebrew word for ‘life’ were also found on the cobblestone.

Since the 16th century, Toledo was renowned for the production of bladed weapons and Toledo swords became the place to get weaponry among the Romans. Many shop windows in the city displayed the souvenir weapons.

Marzipan is a culinary art in Toledo.

Madrid: March 1 – 2

We had to return to Madrid for our flight home, so we made our last day in Spain, one to remember. First stop, we got to enjoy a drink in the oldest bar in Madrid – Casa Alberto. Founded in 1827, Miguel de Cervantes is said to have lived in the building and worked on Don Quixote here. The restaurant is very narrow but we were grateful to finally be inside after several attempts to get in!

A short time later, we strolled over to the oldest restaurant in the WORLD – according to the Guinness Book of Records. Casa Botín was founded in 1725, and is a benchmark of Madrid’s best traditional cuisine. I asked our waiter how long he had worked there and he said 35 years; since he was 17. Dedicated!

The place was packed, the atmosphere electric, the service impeccable and the food, enjoyable. Joe made today’s reservation back in December and the only time slot he could get was 3:30pm. It ended up being perfect because they close after ‘lunch’ so we got to enjoy it quiet and empty as we were leaving, knowing it would be bustling again when they reopen at 8:30pm.

What a spectacular end to our trip to Spain! What a country – warm, wonderful people, delicious and affordable food, beverages and accommodations.

Toronto: March 3 – 4

Our last stop on this adventure was back in Toronto where these two seniors took a break from the flying time and attempted to reduce the jet lag. We spent some quality time with our great old Richmond neighbours and friends, Nicole and Steve Yandon. Now residents of Ottawa, they drove to Toronto and were our welcoming home committee. Good food, wine and tears of laughter made for a memorable time together.

We are now home in Vancouver, glad to be back and reflecting on the many great memories of our tour of the South Coast of Spain. Not only did we collect a lot of new moments, but we were surprised how many flashbacks we had of prior experiences from our journeys. We loved every minute of it!

We hope to do two more trips in 2024; a River Cruise through Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia and secondly some wine and culture tours in South America.

Thanks for following along with us. We hope we have inspired a few followers to add some of these amazing Spain locations to their bucket list!

Paula and Joe


  • Barb says:

    What an amazing trip! Just tried booking Casa Botin while we’re there and the only availability was 23:15! Don’t think I could make it that late!

    • paula says:

      Wow – that is late! Maybe you should grab the reservation and then just try and change the time later? We did see two walk-ins get seated so try that if all else fails – worth a shot!

  • Bonnie says:

    What an amazing job you have done on sharing your wonderful trip!
    Too bad the rest of the world couldn’t coexist with their religious beliefs..
    Loved all the arch and door photos!
    Such beautiful architecture through your whole journey must have been so hard to take so much in at once.
    Your last day at two such historic spots for food and drink is a real bonus.!
    So nice your friends made the trip into Toronto so you four co catch up on life? And now welcome home to your family.?

    • paula says:

      Thanks Sista! It was such a wonderful trip. Hard to pick photos to post because everything is so beautiful and unique.

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