Joined: 3-October 07
Member No.: 94600
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Spain has to be one of the most interesting countries in Europe. I say this because there is always something to do somewhere and there is always some kind of fiesta going on. Sometimes, I think cities create fiestas just to have one. (Fiesta=party/festival) Toledo, being a city about an hour south of Madrid, is definitely no exception. I originally visited/studied in the city in January 2006 and now am here again in January 2009 and have found myself arriving on a day of a fiesta that wasn't occurring on my first visit.
Time Zone: +1 GMT
Calling Code: 34
Currency: Ä Euro
How do I get to Toledo?
There is no airport in the city of Toledo, so you must fly to Madrid. However, for those lucky Europeans, their ever so convenient rail system is available instead of flying should you desire.
From the United States
There are plenty of direct flights available from the United States if you live in of the major cities with high airport volume. Otherwise, you will have to make at least one connection. The cheapest flights I have seen have been on Delta Airlines and connected me through Atlanta. Prices will range from around $600 during the winter months and up to, but not stopping at, $1200 any other time of the year.
For space purposes, Iím going to advise the Europeans to fly. Ryanair is a cheap airline that flies from and to almost any destination. Depending on your location, a flight to Madrid will cost from around 40Ä to about 60Ä. This will often be cheaper than taking the train from any location, but not as much fun.
Once youíve arrived in Madrid, youíll be landing at the Madrid Barajas Airport. From there you are presented with four options of travel:
Rental Car: Faster, Most Expensive
Renting a car is great if you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing outside of a major city, like exploring the countryside. Other than that, utilizing the mass transit system that the majority of the cities have is usually enough. Depending on the number of days you are renting the car, a rental runs the gamut of around 25Ä to100Ä. This range is pricing a car for 1 day and then 4 days. Also, of great benefit is the GPS feature that many cars come with. This is great as navigating the streets of a city is sometimes difficult and congested. Word of warning though, should you decide to rent a car, parking in the old city is very limited and not all hotels have parking.
Taxi: Fast, More/Most Expensive
Taxis are everywhere in Madrid and even Toledo. If you decide to go this route, itís advisable to ask the driver what the fare would be to Toledo before getting into the cab. Even better still, grab a cab with a GPS unit in it and visible to you so you can see your route, should you know where you are going, and be able to identify any straying from the path. This method I wouldnít advise though unless you need to arrive at Toledo after the running hours of the buses and trains to Toledo.
AVE Train: Fastest, Cheap
The AVE Train system is the high speed network of rail lines of Spain. The route from Madrid to Toledo began in 2005 and is a direct route between the two destinations. This is the fastest method of travel between the two cities, taking only 30 minutes. From the airport, you can take a taxi directly to the station, Atocha station. If youíre on a budget, take the Metro. You will board line 8. From there youíll switch lines at Nuevos Ministerios. If youíre packing a lot of luggage, itíll be easier to switch to the Cercanias system as itís more spacious and faster than the Metro. From Nuevos Ministerios, itís only two stops from the stop Atocha. There are many trains that go to the Atocha station, but the most frequent is the C-7 train. Be sure to get on the train the going in the direction of Guadalajara Itís a separate fare for this system, but the diminished hassle is almost worth the extra Euro. Otherwise, from Nuevos Ministerios, youíll switch to line 10. Take this line until you get to the stop Tribunal and switch to line 1. Once on this line, take it all the way to the Atocha Renfe stop. NOT THE ATOCHA STOP.
Bus: Slow, cheapest
Taking the bus is bar far the cheapest, with fares differing a little among the various service providers. This is around 5Ä. The travel time by bus is just over an hour. From the airport, you can take a Taxi direct to the Estaciůn de Autobuses. Otherwise, the Metro is great. Get on the Metro on line 8. You will ride the train to Nuevos Ministerios. Switch to line 6. This line makes a complete circle, so be sure to check the direction of the train in order to minimize time wasted. Ride this train until you arrive at the station Mendez Alvaro. This is the station for the buses.
Iíve arrived at Toledo, now what?
Well, depending on how you got here can change your circumstances. If you by chance had the money to spend, then you came by taxi or rented a car. This provides you with a direct method at arriving at what Iím assuming is your home away from home, your hotel. Lucky you, youíre done. However, many of us love to squat on a penny for as long as possible, so weíve opted for the more strenuous mode of transportation: The bus or the train.
I came by bus.
If you came by means of the bus, then you can take a taxi or hop on yet another bus. The taxi will run you about 13Ä at best, but will drop you off at your location if possible. The other option is the local bus. This system is very nice and very convenientÖ And cheap. A ride will cost .50Ä. In order to find out which bus to get on, I would contact your hotel as to which will bring you to them. If youíre hotel is in the old city, the main stop is at Plaza Zocodover and many of the buses will be stopping there. But to be on the safe side, ask the driver if they are going to Zocodover before getting on.
I came by train.
The taxis are parked right outside the station should you want to get to your hotel fast. Otherwise, a little farther down the street is a bus stop. I refer you to the above for the bus directions.
Iím a tourist and want to do the tourist-type stuff. What can I see?
Toledo is a touristís cloud 9. There are so many places to stop and snap a photo that youíll probably want to upgrade that memory card to the biggest available before you arrive. There is in fact so much to see that I would definitely recommend buying yourself a travel book on Spain with Toledo in it before coming. But if you forget, the hotels, train stations, and bus stations can provide you with a map of the city and most of the maps identify the major spots to see. Most of the must-see locations are located within the Casco Historico or Old City. I would definitely advise taking the time to just wander the streets. I myself did that just today and found a museum that after 5 months of passing repeatedly never noticed. So wear the good walking shoes and learn to meander.
Iím a partier. Where are the clubs?
The city is comparatively small to its neighbor Madrid, but it does have some gems hidden throughout its narrow streets. A lot of the time, these places arenít very well identified and that makes them all the better. The best clubs, in my opinion, are located in the Casco Historico. Most Spaniards do not go out to the clubs until 1AM and even still that is kind of early. Traditionally, the locals will go to a bar with friends and drink themselves happy for cheap before heading off to the clubs.
Tsunami is a great club that is located underground. The entrance is off a main street and in a dead-end. The music is mostly American with a lot of techno and house dance music. They do tend to mix in some European flavor in there. This place does sometimes have a cover charge and the drinks are mildly expensive. If you want to party like a local, drink before coming.
Circulo is kind of like the superman of the comic world. By day itís a mild mannered art and cultural exhibit. By night its an all out club with lights, music, and a huge dance floor. It was a synagogue back in the day and has been converted to an art museum/club.
The best bar by far, at least if you want a modern, relaxed environment, is Picaro. The music is usually a combination of rock music from the United States. Sometimes they mix in other styles of music. The drinks, however, are a bit expensive, but thatís no problem because you went and had 3 pints of Mahou before coming out, right?
In case youíve ignored my warnings up until now, I provide you with a bar that is bar none, the best and best priced. Enebro has an atmosphere to it like the United States except the bar actually has windows and you can drink outside. They have 3 locations for your drinking pleasure. Two are within the old city and the third is out at the mall, Luz del Tajo.
Should you decide that youíve had enough of the Spanish flare, head on over to the Irish pub, OíBriens. The owner is actually Irish so he speaks English. On top of that, the drinks are relatively decently priced. Should the lower level become crowded, which it often does, the owner will open up the HUGE upstairs area. Careful though, the stairs are steep and if you get too many drinks in you, then those stairs become a water slide, but without the water and the smooth ride.
I donít think its allowed to wander the streets naked, so what should I wear?
There is a school for foreign exchange students within the city. Most of the students are from America so the locals are more or less used to seeing Americans and their attire. However, in order to reduce the occurrences of stares, its best to keep to clothes you might wear to a full-service restaurant. One thing Iím guilty of and I know many people are, especially college students, walking around in pajamas is guaranteed to get you some awful treatment. I reference college students because I just recently ended my term as one and we like to wake up and go to class, often times still wearing what we slept in. Jeans are definitely a safe bet. Also, wearing sandals or flip-flops screams American, but wearing them wonít cause any undue issues.
What should I expect the weather to be?
As I write this, it is mid-January and roughly 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Back home, in Indiana, itís -16. I mention this because it gives you a stark contrast as to the mild winters in Spain. During the winter months, you can expect the temperatures to range between 40-60 during the day, and down to 20-40 at night. Generally, its sunny which makes a day of 45 degrees feel a bit warmer. But like many countries in Europe, it does snow. This snow is usually light and doesnít last much longer than a day or two. Spring and Fall are the best times to visit as the temperatures are steady in the 60-80 range and are very comfortable. Summer, however, can be stifling. Temperatures range from 80-100 and its sunny, very very sunny. Bring sun block.
Ok, expert. Iíve read 3 pages of information, wrap it up. What else should I know?
Since youíre in a hurry to get to Toledo, Iíll give you a few pointers to leave you with. Money shouldnít be an issue as ATMís are everywhere in Toledo. However, finding places to break bills over 50 might be a problem unless you are buying something. I would advise you to bring 200Ä before leaving your home country. Banks will do this free of charge, but watch out. They receive their conversion information at the beginning of the day, so you might be paying to convert than you thought you would. Shoes need to be very comfortable as you will be walking up and down hills a lot. Be sure to wear socks. Cell phones from the United States may work here. Be sure to check with your carrier before you leave as they may need to activate your plan for use in Europe. I would advise buying a cheap pre-paid cell phone while here as making international calls from your home cell phone is difficult, confusing, and expensive. Movistar is a great service provider with great rates. The cell phone, SIM card, activation, and first set of minutes costs a total of 29Ä. You receive a balance of 12Ä included in that 29 price. I personally have both a US cell phone and a Spanish cell phone with me.
Alright, I leave you to your own. Should you have questions regarding travel to Toledo that is not included here, then Iíll respond and post the question here. Good luck.