Toledo’s sloping lunch

April 27, 2011

Tilted soup and sliding spaghetti.

Everything in Toledo is “up the hill,” the guidebook said, and that’s where we went: out of the Moorish-inspired train depot, across the winding Tajo river and up the hill toward the center of old Toledo and the Plaza Zocodover. Station to square involved a 20-minute hike up steep paths and stairways, and as we neared the summit we found there was an escalator cut into the slope that would have done most of the trudgery for us, but no matter. Lunch usually tastes better with a sprinkle of sweat.

Old Toledo is like a movie set. The city is only 60 miles from Madrid (30 minutes by bullet train), but it felt like we had been transported back in time. Narrow streets and ancient buildings form a shadowy cobblestone maze navigated by grandmothers carting home the day’s groceries. Schoolkid chatter echoes across the plaza. But the Hollywood reverie was soon interrupted by the tourist masses, most of whom were headed to the same place: the Catedral de Toledo.

Begun in 1227 and built during a 250-year span, the cathedral is awe-inspiring — dim and cool, cavernous and soaring, with a marble tomb or gated chapel at every turn. The echoing interior drips with intricate carving and gilded altarwork; the sacristy houses a museum’s trove of paintings by El Greco, Goya, Velazquez and Carvaggio. Eyes heavenward and mouthes agape, we explored. Stunning.

After a couple of hours, the heady combination of hills and holiness got our appetites up, so out we went in search of sustenance. We landed at Restaurant Alcazar, whose terrace perches delicately on an incline. J started with gazpacho, which slanted in the bowl; I had to slurp my espeguettis before they slid off the plate. Frankly, the starters were the best part of the meal, but the fried fish and sauteed pork loin entrees were satisfying enough after an eventful morning, especially accompanied by a refreshing Spanish Rueda.

After lunch, we spent another hour hiking the slopes of Toledo before we made our way down the hill and back to the train station. The trek was definitely worth the effort if only for a few hours and a decidedly tilted meal.

2 Responses to “Toledo’s sloping lunch”

  1. Lizbeth said

    Tilted and sliding, pretty amazing description. Sounds like Spain agreed in all ways. Be fun to visit & try those small plates.

  2. It was pretty amusing! Our table was on such a slant, I was afraid we’d lose something, but nothing slid off. :)

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