Being used to the Asia timezone helped us (or at least me) in this trip. I had a short night and woke up at around 5 in the morning. Early start to the day for me means getting ready for sunrise. I read some more of Don Quixote (of course when I’m in Spain), and left Muew to sleep a bit more. I’m surprised how much she could sleep, or how quick she adjusted. We ended up leaving Madrid a little later than I thought, but it was still dark outside. Madrid is more alive at midnight than 7 in the morning, I thought to myself. We got ourself round trip tickets to Toledo, some Churros for the wait. Another surprise was how good the Churros were in the train station. I used a nap along the ride, and I woke up along with Muew when we arrived in Toledo. 
Arriving in Toledo

It felt like a different country when we arrived in Toledo. The air felt cold and moist, and we were welcomed with misty blue hour that complements the incandescent bulb making a perfect crime scene vibe. The train station was itself an interesting character with a clock tower marking the start of our day-trip. Maybe we were going uphill on the train ride, and maybe we didn’t have enough layers to keep us warm for the days. What lay ahead was a lot of walking uphill above the Castilla-La Mancha plains. Off we went.

Toledo’s shy in the morning. The ancient city got itself wrapped up with a river, walls, and another layer of mist. Twenty minutes in climbing the city walls, we only passed one other visiting lady. A long route around the city walls finally led us up to the city square. Right in the middle of the square, looking downward to where we came from, we found a statue overlooking the perimeter of Toledo. I came to find out that it wasn’t a statue of a warrior of sword, but the one that fight with pen. He was Miguel de Cervantes, Spain’s most famous legendary writer.
Morning Streets of Toledo
The streets were quiet in Toledo, but it was a beautiful silent. Long narrow alleys are occupied with one or two pedestrians, each carrying their morning duties before the tourists flock in. Perhaps many are still in bed after celebrating Christmas, or maybe Spanish morning are always peaceful. Given the timing, or how breakfast is not so important, we had to explore to find a place for food. Following the reviews, we ended up in La Abadía where 4 euros could get us orange juice, coffee, and a brilliant steak sandwich (for her, the salmon avocado toast). This was the best breakfast so far in our trip, and that fuel us to continue our walk towards the Alcazar. 
Alcázar of Toledo
Sitting on the highest point of Toledo, the Alcazar is an historical stone building. It felt like a small battle between the blue sky and misty fog to occupy the morning. What I had in mind was that the highest building on the highest point might give a good views. I believed there was only one accessible tower with the second floor turn into a library and third floor turn into a cafe with three large beautiful windows.
From the Alcazar to the Cathedral
Muew doubt that the sky would clear up and that I would get a good photo. She was right, the sky didn’t quite clear up when we waited in the 3rd floor cafe. As the morning went by, more people showed up on the third floor, probably looking for the same thing we were, the view not the hot chocolate. We left and continued our walk to visit the Cathedral up close. I think we took the non-touristy entrance for worshipers (picture below), there weren’t any entrance fee and we went in feeling super small compared to the high walls of the cathedral. 
Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo
Building within a Building
We didn’t go in for an official visit to the famous cathedral of Toledo. Neither of us were into big grand churches, it’s too soon for lunch and we were too full for a morning coffee after breakfast and the christmas market hot chocolate with more churros (who could say no to a hot chocolate and churros from a christmas market in a cold winter monring). We found another interesting spot located near the jewish quarter. It’s a gothic monastery from the 15th century with a garden in the middle. It’s a bit of a walk way over to the other side of the city. The walk made it a good break as the city continue to reveal itself with the receding mist, and pedestrians starting to occupy more narrow alleys.
We made the right choice paying fewer euros to visit Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes compared to the crowded main cathedral of Toledo. The near-mid day light lit the dangling oranges from the lush green tree, it almost looked like a spanish christmas tree decorated with little bright ornaments. We walked the hall in awe, observing how lights fell a little differently in all 4 side of the square. Next to the bright side entrance there was a shady side, after a long morning filled with walks, it isn’t too bad to sit down in a cushioned bench in a peaceful sanctuary. Once the first floor starting to get the second wave of visitor, we moved to the second floor and continued our visit.

It was mid afternoon when we were walking out of the Jewish quarter on the other side of the city. Muew found a secret spot that reminded me of Calleja de las Flores in Cordoba. An alley leading to the tip of a cathedral. I think she pioneered a spot that couple of tourists to join in a photo hunt. This was before we hit a tavern near the center of the town. The food here were delicious and cheaper than anything we would be able to find in Madrid. The portion are also generous, from tuna-salad to our steaks. I did’t know I could enjoy home-pickled olives this much.
We came back to the where we started the morning and between us and sunset was two hours. I had the only two neighboring starred spots in my maps which were views of the city from the other side. Since there weren’t bus that could take us there, Muew knew what it meant for her, another long walk to end the day. The walk was all the way back down the wall, across the bridge, and up the opposite hill. The late afternoon light start casting long shadows of couple walking on the river banks. 
The half hour hike led us to Mirador del Valle. Mirador meant viewpoint in Spanish, having a specific word for viewpoint made me want to learn Spanish. Maybe I would make a good Spaniards. My research was right, the view was quite stunning. I thought no one would be crazy enough to walk this far for a photo, but later on I realized that it’s one of the tour drop-off points for the day trippers. Anyway, I would have liked to believe that the hike made our sight a bit more beautiful, or at least more rewarding. We spent the evening there when the golden hour morphed into twilight and finally into a full blue hour. The city also changed from a bright golden glow to an orange glow that contrast the dark blue sky.
As the sky grew darker, I continued to find different spot to shoot until a point where visitors were far few. There was a large man who stopped and decided to sit next to where we were. I felt uneasy because where we were didn’t look like a destination if one isn’t intending to shoot photo. As a hiker group with hiking poles walked by the three of us, I decided to pack the tripod and told Muew that we’ll start our walk earlier than she expected. Walking back with a large group is probably safer. Maybe I was too paranoid, but I better be safe than sorry, I thought to myself. 
Back to where we started.
Muew was right all along in picking her time to wake up, choosing the round trip tickets, and to head back at 8 PM. If I was the one choosing, we would have arrived cold and dark around 6 in the morning, and left 3 hours after sunset in a crowded last train. Thanks to my wife for all the right decisions. That wrapped 26th December 2019, our second day in Spain. 

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