Category Archives: Toledo’s Treasures

Tapas On A Winning Streak!

All good things must come to an end, as did Toledo’s annual tapas competition, which drew to a close last Sunday. For the entire month of November, local bars and restaurants had been showcasing a new breed of extravagant tapas, specially created for this year’s contest. (Yes, there were voting slips, prize draws and stuff!)

I have no idea how many different creations I tried throughout my innumerable outings,  as there were A LOT of participants this year. Anyway, here are some of the highlights:


Pork balls. Very satisfying 🙂

Alfonso VI

Sliver of fried pork with sauteed vegetables on bread, topped with raisin sauce. Looked better than it tasted, was our combined verdict.


Puff pastry filled with seafood. The white stringy things, in case you’re wondering, are baby eels (gulas). These are very popular on tapas, and can take a bit of getting used to.

Lamb burger

One of my absolute faves: lamb topped with caramelised onion and manchego cheese, served  on a curry bun


Octopus with cauliflower mousse and coffee vinaigrette. This place has a knack for the outlandish, and it usually works, but this time, it didn’t. It really didn’t. Pretty to look at, though.

Cheese tapa

Now, what could go wrong with a tapa entirely consisting of cheese? I tell you what: Absolutely nothing. Gimme more!

Foie gras oreo

Foie gras “Oreos” filled with manchego mousse

Foie gras truffle

More foie, this time in the shape of a truffle. You were meant to mix it with the bread crumbs. Interesting concept, but it was a bit like eating lard mixed with sand.

Beef stew

A dollop of beef stew on sliced potato. Simple and delicious.


Rabbit, fancily “rolled up” and drizzled with chestnut compote. Divine! This may have been my overall favourite.


I’m the only one with her eyes trained on the food rather than on the camera… typical!














Staircase View Of Toledo And A Happy Virgin

Toledo is stuffed to the rafters with treasures that no ordinary pleb has been allowed to set eyes on in hundreds of years. Recently, the tumble-down Colegio de Infantes (a boy’s school) was renovated and reopened as a museum of ancient tapestries and textiles that had been rotting away in one of the Cathedral’s cellars.

I shall spare you the tapestries and ecclesiastical garments, but have a look at this:

Toledo View 1Looks like a painting at first glance, doesn’t it? But it’s just a view of the city through the panoramic window of one of the building’s staircases:

Toledo Staircase View 2

Religious art isn’t really my thing, but…

Happy Virgin

…have you ever seen those two look quite so heartwarmingly content??

Colegio de Infantes Entrance

The building’s entrance

For the most stunning view of Toledo through a window, click here.


Municipal Water Feature Crimes – Part Two

Some of you will remember my momentous rant about Toledo’s eyesore fountain, which obliterates the historic city centre, from a couple of weeks ago. Sadly, this isn’t the only… erm… visually and conceptually challenging water feature the city has foisted upon its residents and visitors.

There’s also this one, located to the west of the Jewish quarter:

Decking fountain

What did you say? You can’t see a fountain? Just a dead tree sticking out of some shoddy decking?

Well, let me put it to you: This whole sorry plank assemblage IS the fountain.

But a fountain needs to spout water!


I hear you. Let me help you: Can you make out that tiny hole/ring in the fourth row of planks in the centre of the photograph above?

No? Let’s get a bit closer to it:

StandpipeHere we have it. An upturned standpipe sunk into slats of wood, oozing water, like some up-the-creek plumbing. Sigh.

OK, this one’s not quite as aesthetically offensive as the other one, but as far as decorative water installations go, it’s another spectacular fail.

The only positive thing I can say about this piece of “public art” is that the sound of trickling water, as you’re walking over the area, is actually quite pleasing. Unless you happen to be desperate for a wee at the time.

Burgers, Beverages, Orgasms – Just Push The Button!

Toledo is not only blessed with thousands of years’ worth of culture, breathtaking views and the most horrid fountain in municipal water feature history, but it has now officially joined the ranks of elite cities, where all human desires can be satisfied in one garish vestibule at the click of a button. Move over Tokyo!

This is what popped up in the main shopping street in Toledo’s historic city centre a few months ago:

Pica y pica

A “shop” featuring no doors, no staff – just orange slot machines, ready and waiting to cater to your every whim. There’s even a tape recorded message welcoming you.

Pica y pica vending machines

Fancy a cow burger? A porky? A Hannibal?  Or perhaps an intergalactic orion? (I’m 99.9% certain that this is a typo and should have read “onion”)

Now, if someone could perhaps explain to me why anybody would want a soggy burger that’s been festering in a metal bio hazard box for three days, when there’s both a McDonald’s AND a Burger King just around the corner…? If only I could be bothered to loiter outside this dreary dispensary at 3 am, I’d probably get my answer…

As to the establishment’s name, “Pica y Pica”, the verb “picar”, in colloquial Spanish, means “to grab a bite” or “to nibble”. It also means “to itch” and/or “scratch”. Evidently, those in need of scratching a particular kind of itch are well served by this outlet:


Do the “diamonds” change colour, I wonder, the closer you get…?

Blow up doll

Never mind the furry cuffs. My attention was seized by Romping Rosy designed for men with a dwarf fetish. Any guesses as to whether she’s got hairy Hobbit extremities leading up to her “love passage”?

Easy Beat Love Egg

Another one for the boys to have a crack at. Or, rather, insert into same such.

Ah. NOW I understand the facial expression of the guy on the top left:

Vending Machine Enjoyment

It’s not just the potato chips that are stoking his bliss…

I think I’m ready for cake…



Toledo’s Foulest Fountain

Public art is meant to challenge the mind. I get that. I’m only too aware that I know NOTHING about art, so I’m usually reluctant to shoot my mouth off about it. But sometimes a piece foisted upon the unsuspecting public is just too horrendous to pass up comment. So, please, indulge me, just for a minute. Tugging at the shackles of my ignorance, let me rail against the indiscriminate artistic littering of sacred places, so that I might feel better afterwards. Or not.

Here it goes:

This year, Toledo got a new fountain. Or, rather, I should say fountain. It was conceived by the (I gather, renowned) artist Cristina Iglesias. I’m not planning to diss her, I’ve seen some of her other works and liked them. She’s clearly thought deeply about this project, which actually consists of three pieces (“tres aguas” – three waters), one of which is this wretched runnel I’m about to show you.

It is supposed to represent the changing flow patterns of the river Tagus, which circles the city. According to the project’s website, the installation is meant to give the impression of an “an ancient aquifer or subterranean channel that had recently been unearthed”.

As intriguing as it sounds, as a concept, it’s not just that the end result is ugly as sin, but it also happens to be in the most conspicuous of places: Smack bang outside the town hall, and 20 metres from one of Spain’s most magnificent cathedrals. We’re talking about the hallowed heart of a  medieval city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visited by thousands of tourists every day, who’ve come to enjoy Toledo’s stunning beauty and thousands of years of history.

And they don’t know what to make of it. I don’t blame them. Actually, standing by Crappy Creek and listening to people’s bafflement is my new favourite sport. “What is it?”, “Is it broken?”, “What’s it going to be when it’s finished…?” “How disgusting!”


No, it won’t get any better, I’m afraid…

Fountain close-up

The bed is made of steel, and, as you can see, with all that sun, heat and trickling shallow water, it’s the perfect breeding ground for algal sludge. And God knows what else…

Fountain 3

He’s got the right idea. Just keep walking… don’t stop and look!!!

Teenagers at the fountain

There’s no better place for contemplating Spains 60% youth unemployment.

Fountain 5

Fountain 4

Sufficiently depressing to make you want to commit suicide, but not deep enough.

OK, you get the idea. There is no flattering angle that can make this glorified sewer look like a piece of fine art congruous with an historic town centre. And I took these shots on a couple of good days, because there’s usually empty drinks bottles and soggy paper napkins floating in it.

BTW, it’s not the only eyesore Toledo has to offer. There is also THIS, but, luckily, it’s a bit too far out of the way to traumatise innocent tourists:

[If you would like to see some pretty snaps of Toledo, take a look at this post by fellow blogger Jenna, who visited me a couple of months ago.]


Torture and Oral Sex On Toledo’s Terraces

Toledo has an extensive collection of torture instruments (just try googling “Toledo Spanish Inquisition”).  I’d admired them before, in a local museum, but now they’ve been given a public airing, presumably to scare the tourists. I took a couple of shots this morning on my way back from the opticians.

Torture instruments

Pull up a chair!

Pull up a chair!

Or would you rather have a little lie down...?

Or would you rather have a little lie down…? The headrest may be a bit on the prickly side.

You'd rather stand? Fine. Suit yourself.

You’d rather stand? Fine. Suit yourself.

Now that we’re in the right position, let’s get down to the sex part. So, the bar on the square outside my house is seriously trying to spice up its menu – see green flyer. You’ll have to squint a bit, but just in case you still can’t see it, it says “On our terrace: Oral Sex”.

Darn, it was yesterday! Tonight's titillation is boring old live music :(

Darn, it was yesterday! Tonight’s titillation is boring old live music 😦

Oral Sex Big


Toledo’s Treasures: Santa Clara And Some Fab Tuna

The building where I live is right in front of the convent of Santa Clara (founded in 1369), but I can’t actually see it from my own windows. I’m watering friends’ plants this week, so I took a shot of the convent this morning from their balcony.

Santa Clara

On Sunday, I ventured inside the convent walls on a free guided tour. They didn’t show us much, just the church part and a couple of pretty interior patios. We were not allowed to take photos, and no access was granted to the archives, art collections or other much more interesting parts of this vast medieval building complex.

Santa Clara is home to just three resident nuns, the youngest of whom is 82. It’s pretty much the same story in all of Toledo’s convents and monasteries, of which there are dozens. In a decade from now, there is going to be nobody left, and what will happen to these properties and their hidden treasures then…?

Nice Door. Held open by Catalina.

Cool Door. Held open by my friend Catalina.

A totally delicious dinner of tuna and stir fried vegetables I had on Saturday with my friend Sara in a new restaurant/bar just five minutes from my house. I can't wait to have this again :)

Saturday’s totally delicious dinner of tuna and stir fried vegetables in a new restaurant/bar just five minutes from my house. I can’t wait to have this again 🙂


Toledo is famous for its marzipan, and there are a number of places dotted around town (mainly convents, but not exclusively), where they produce marzipan confectionery. Some sell directly to the public, which works out cheaper than buying from the shops.

My friend Cristina took me to one of these “marzipan factories” a couple of weeks ago to pick up a few gift boxes. I took some pictures while we hung about waiting.

This is the expensive stuff with the highest almond content

Delicias de Mazapan: This is the expensive stuff with the highest almond content

Marzipan 2Marzipan 3Marzipan 4

[I’ve posted on Toledo’s marzipan bounty once before, which included some pics of “nuns” slaving away making the stuff. Click here if you want to see it.]


A Sunday Walk. Lots Of Colours. And A Happy Ending :)

Sunday was the last day of Corpus Christi week, Toledo’s major annual “fiesta”.  My friend Catalina and I decided to take to the streets with our cameras before all the decorative splendour disappeared back into the box again for another year.

Toledo Calle Ancha

The main shopping street

Even the local theatre got some fancy curtains

Even the local theatre was beautified with some very fancy curtains for the occasion

Part of a floral display outside the cathedral

Part of a floral display outside the cathedral

Never mind the giants lined up in front of the Town Hall - what's with the hundreds of bags filled with water dangling down from the balcony?!

Never mind the giants lined up in front of the Town Hall, they make an appearance every year – but what’s with the hundreds of bags filled with water dangling down from the balcony?! I’m guessing it’s to do with spending cuts…

Is it me or do they look like they've got goldfish in them...?

Is it me or do they look like they have goldfish in them…?

Catalina. I think she may be off-side ;-)

Catalina. I think she may be waaay off side 😉

You didn't think we'd be out there, toiling away in the streets of Toledo, without adequate sustenance, did you?!

All that hard toil out there in the scorching-hot streets deserved a reward at the end 🙂

Thyme Liqueur? Seriously…?!

Some things just don’t sound like a good idea. Until you try them. And such was the case with said thyme liqueur. A total winner!

But who’d come up with such a thing? Answer: The eccentric people of Toledo. In particular, a guy called Ricardo Sánchez Butragueño, who is attempting to commercialise this odd-sounding concoction following an old family recipe.

There’s a back story, of course. For hundreds of years, Toledo has been celebrating Corpus Christi (which fell on Thursday, 19th June this year) for all it’s worth. I mean, they seriously go to town on this one. I must confess, I’m not a particular fan of watching church furniture being lugged round the streets for hours on end by people in stuffy costumes.

The only thing I like about this gaudy spectacle is that they sprinkle the streets with thyme and rosemary. It smells nice. And all I can think about for the entire Corpus Christi week is Welsh roast lamb with butter-drenched new potatoes.

So, when Maria told me that someone had managed to “bottle the Corpus” and that the product launch was going to happen on one of her clients’ venues on Tuesday, we just had to go.

Three botles

Photogenic bottles!

Even the local press turned up for this momentous occasion

Even the local press turned up for this momentous occasion. Note the thyme sprigs strewn all over the floor. Nice idea, but they kept getting caught in my dress, making their way up towards my knickers. A bit scratchy…

Bottle with the back story in the background

Bottle with the back story in the background


Maria and I faffing with our cameras

Maria and I faffing with our cameras

This taking selfies thing is definitely NOT my forte...

This taking selfies thing is definitely NOT my forte… and I wasn’t even drunk at this point!

They let you have as much as you wanted... a fatal concept!

They let us have as much of the concoction as we wanted… a fatal concept!

Some people even turned up in bottle-matching outfits ;-)

Some people even turned up in bottle-matching outfits 😉

View of Toledo

View of Toledo from the venue

So, thumbs up to thyme liquor! Where have you been all my life?! The kind organisers gave freebie bottles to take home 🙂

[The event was held at Cigarral Del Angel Custodio, one of Toledo’s most splendid historical country houses. It has amazing garden and terrific views of Toledo, some of which I captured a few weeks back, when the roses were in bloom. Click here if you’d like to see those pics.]