2 – 12 March 2020
Following our first enjoyable trip to Italy with Railbookers last year we wanted to try a longer trip, this time to mainland Spain, so we got in touch with the team at Railbookers to help! We knew from our last holiday with them that we could adapt any of their trips to take in everywhere we wanted to visit, and they took care of all of our arrangements. This time, we opted to fly to Madrid directly for 2 nights, then using the train, travelled onto Toledo (1 night), followed by Salamanca (2 nights) then on to Santiago de Compostela (2 nights) and then back to Madrid for our final evening before flying back to the UK.
It was not planned as such but it became known as our ‘Cathedral trip of Spain’ and one that we have looked back on very fondly during the subsequent Lockdown.
I had visited Madrid on business but wanted to return to see the sights and visit some other iconic cities with Margaret.
We spent our first 2 nights in Madrid, visited Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace, Catedral de La Almudena, as well as taking the open topped bus tour of the city. This is a great way to see the sights and get your bearings for the layout of a new city.
We had a great lunch at Museo del Jamon near Puerta del Sol. A charcuteria as well as a restaurant, good local cuisine and really low prices. Another great place to visit for local food and the experience was Mercado de San Miguel, one of the oldest and most beautiful indoor markets in this city. The choice of Tapas was unbelievable with a great atmosphere.
Next stop was Toledo, leaving from Madrid Atocha railway station, just like a tropical garden in the entrance to the station. Absolutely incredible.
Arriving in Toledo, we were totally stunned by the railway station itself. An astonishing building of carved wood and sculptures. Toledo is an ancient walled-city, easy to walk around, with great sightseeing.
The places of interest we discovered were, the Cathedral of St. Mary of Toledo, which was built in 1226, the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes and the Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca. We also walked around the walls and looked over the views of the river at San Martins bridge
Dinner in the hotel, Hotel San Juan de los Reyes, was very good where we sampled one of the local specialities, suckling pig.
We then travelled on to Salamanca for a 2-day stay. This is a university city with 2 cathedrals at its centre. One late Gothic and Baroque are joined together and makes an interesting tour. It has another great Plaza Mayor, which claims to be the prettiest in Spain, and we would agree. It is known as the ‘living room’ of Salamanca. A great place to eat – cheese and cured meats, and to people watch.
From our hotel it was a lovely walk over the Roman bridge into the city, the Puente Romano de Salamanca, an elegant Romanesque bridge constructed in the year 89, gave excellent views of the cathedrals and entrance to this city.
Next, it was on to Santiago de Compostela. This is another great cathedral city, best known for its pilgrimages and St. James.
Lovely, narrow, winding streets with great tapas bars and restaurants. Our favourite tapas bar was Petiscos do Cardeal, great food and wine. Lots of locals and atmosphere.
Alameda park was a great spot for walking and gave amazing views over the cathedral.
Then back off to Madrid for our last night, returning to the same hotel, where we started.
Early drinks in Plaza de Santa Ana, then dinner in the hotel, with more jamon and croquetas. Food on this trip proved to be just as important and impressive as the cathedrals!
This was another great adventure by train with brilliant organisation from Railbookers for all parts of the trip – travelling by train around Spain was seamless and we enjoyed the huge variety of scenery as we travelled. We also enjoyed the excellently chosen variation in hotels throughout the holiday. All had their own style but common to all was their great locations, very helpful staff,and they were just right for each destination. A thoroughly great Spanish adventure and our thanks again to Railbookers! Next on the list is Switzerland which we are already looking forward to in Spring 2021.
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