Chinchon, an Alternative to Toledo

This (as in my recent trip to Spain) wasn’t my first rodeo. But it might as well have been, since last time I visited this sunny paradise, I was only 11 years old. I’ll admit, I barely remember much from that trip. But one thing I do remember (or I just created fake memories from after being inundated with photos of it) was our trip to Toledo. The tiny alleys, streets that wound up and down, and of course that insane view of the city from the hill opposite it.

But this post isn’t about Toledo. Because on my recent trip to Spain, we completely avoided it.

Gasp! How could we?! Well, rumour has it that Toledo has turned into tourist central and lost a little bit of its authenticity. Sad face. So we searched for an alternative, and went with what the local (my mom’s friend) suggested – Chinchon, a town only 20 minutes away from where we were staying with her.

Consensus? It. Was. Magical.

A giant bullring, open air cafes surrounding plazas, deserted cobblestone streets, beautiful views of hills and surrounding countryside… everything about this tiny town made me want to explore it for hours and hours more.

If you’re obsessed with crowd-free photos and quiet strolls (like me), one of the keys to exploring Spain is to do your sight-seeing during siesta time. From 1-5 pm (approximately) storefronts and businesses close down, and people escape the heat by hiding out in their homes or passing time in restaurants/bars/cafes.

Sure, it’s hot, and the sun’s blazing, but there’s something incredibly transcendent and lovely about being the only person walking down a street. It’s as if the town is stripped bare, welcoming you into a rare moment of tranquility. You’re not just sneaking peeks of doors and facades and alleys, but appreciating the engravings on a doorknob or the latticework on a fence.

Although I could have spent all day in solitary strolling, we did/saw some other things that are worth checking out. It’s a short list, but here’s what to do in Chinchon.

Have a Drink by the Bullring

I’m a firm lover of drinks with a view. If you’re going to sit down and have a drink (which won’t cost a ton anyway), you might as well pay a little extra and find the most stunning place to do it. In Chinchon, we got that stunning view without the inflated price, just steps away from the bullring. Sit down, relax, and sip on some cerveza (vino for me, as per usual).

Admire Chinchon From Above

Whether you stop for photos before getting into town or walk up to the viewpoint near Iglesia De Ntra. Sra. De La Asunción, taking in a view of Chinchon is a must. Honey-coloured earth, ridged roofs, white-washed walls, magnificent trees dotting the landscape... it looks, and feels, like a postcard.  

Sample Wine in a Cave

One street north of the Asunción church is Meson Quinones, a restaurant/bar with a little something special in the basement… wine caves! We were led down the stairs and into our own private room, lined with gigantic barrels and complete with its own bar. With each wine sample, we got a free tapas… and we got to take the shot glass with us! There’s a restaurant on the main level, too, and a patio overflowing with greenery out front. 

Enjoy a Traditional Spanish Meal

With a population of only 5,000 people, Chinchon still benefits from delicious home cooked food at reasonable non-tourist-inflated prices. Warning: portions are massive. Throughout the rest of our time in Spain, my mom and I often shared one "Menu del Dia" portion and perhaps ordered an extra cheese or jamon plate. At Meson El Duende, a short walk from where we sampled wine, we ordered two menu del dia's (mistake! mistake!) but greatly enjoyed the meal regardless. Plus, we got a free bottle of red with our order.

Guarantee Your Return

If you toss a coin into a fountain over your shoulder, you'll one day return to that exact place. Have yu heard this superstition before? This tradition comes from the most popular fountain in the world – the Trevi fountain in Rome – but it's often common practice now all over the world. And who doesn't want to guarantee they'll come back to a place so lovely and beautiful?