Valencia was so much fun even though we were there for such a short time. We then headed to the west of Spain towards Cáceres, the autonomous region of Extremadura. According to the GPS, it was a 6 hours and 4-minute drive not counting our many stops. We made it in 5 hours with a few stops and taking in the beautiful landscaping that Spain has to offer. The road was clear, the day was lovely – some clouds here and there – but otherwise lovely, and the temperature was great.
We stayed at Parador de Los Llanos in Torreorgaz, close to Cáceres for about 44,00€. It’s a small, old hotel but the room was clean and cozy with a comfortable bed and no yucky carpets either! The people there were so polite and friendly. One of the most interesting things in the hotel was the old cigarette vending machine. Remember those? Well, it depends on your age. They have been gone for quite some time now.
On our way, we came across a few interesting sights which we captured in photos from afar. Later, we asked locals about it or researched it on the internet since we were not able to stop at those locations – either because they were out of our way or simply were not tourist attractions.
One of those places were the Windmills of La Mancha. Even though we didn’t go directly through the windmills route they were quite close to the route we took to Cáceres. According to the España website, it is the setting for the adventures of Don Quixote. The route runs near the city of Toledo and is the region’s symbols.
Miles and miles of green pastures and Wind Turbines were seen throughout our route. Coming from Florida I don’t see these, so it was impressive to me. I had not realized how huge these things were. According to the Spanish Wind Energy Association, Spain is the world’s fifth largest producer of wind power after China, U.S., Germany, and India.
Every so miles I’d see a billboard of a massive black bull with no description. I was curious about it, so I took a snapshot to research. It turns out that the billboard is an advertisement to promote Veteran Brandy which began in 1956. The billboard is called the Osbourne Bull. After a few controversies with the billboard it has earned its spot as part of the Andalusian Heritage; therefore, it’s there to stay.
Once in Cáceres, we visited the Old Town of Cáceres dating back to the 12th century. It is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. If you’re familiar with the television series, Game of Thrones, you might have caught a glimpse of the medieval city since some parts of season 7 were filmed there. The medieval city is very well kept, with its cobblestone streets and surrounded by a protective wall. Inside those walls, you will find palaces, churches, convents and a museum. The architecture of this town includes Roman, Gothic, Islamic and Italian Renaissance styles. It was built so well and beautifully, it makes you wonder how they did it without all the modern tools we now have.
There are various medieval taverns around the city. They are all very well maintained. The one below was inside the medieval city of Cáceres.
Outside of the medieval city walls is Plaza de Santa Maria. Here is where you will find the main entrance to the medieval city. Plaza de Santa Maria is lined with stores, hotels, restaurants, bars and outdoor seating. Locals and tourist gather around for meals, drinks and just to socialize and admire the beauty of the medieval city.
We strolled around the town of Cáceres stopping here and there. It reminded me of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico, so much alike, it even had some of the same street names. We stopped at a local shop, Sierra de Montañez – Productos Extremeños, and purchased the famous stinky and delicious goat cheese from that region, as well as a few other items to bring home.
We visited the Church of the Precious Blood in Plaza San Jorge. It is a beautiful church. Its 18th-century baroque style design, altar and dome ceilings are stunning. Even though there was a wedding being held at the church at the time we arrived, we were able to sneak inside for some photography – not of the wedding party though, we weren’t invited.
My husband’s cousin knew of all the good places to eat so he, along with his wife, took us to dinner at Mesón Azuquita, a tapas bar and restaurant in Calle Isabel La Católica, Sierra de Fuentes near Cáceres. It is a cozy, kind of medieval theme décor with an old-world charm. The staff and owner were friendly and very polite. The environment was cozy, and the music was great. We had a few “tapas,” a full meal and enjoyed some local wine with great company. A few of those tapas were a Spanish omelet, ham (Iberico), cheese of the region, potatoes (patatas brava) among other tapas, and the full meal was a roasted leg of lamb and potatoes. Everything was delicious. I highly recommend this place and will eat there again when I return to Spain.
Our last meal in Cáceres was at El Mirador de Galarza, in Calle Piedad, courtesy of my husband’s cousin. This restaurant is on the rooftop of the Parking Obispo Galarza. It is an elegant restaurant with an outdoor terrace with spectacular views. The terrace was decorated with many natural elements including olive trees where they manually handpick the olives to cook with or serve as appetizers. The staff was outstanding, and the atmosphere was great. We enjoyed a variety of tapas and the main course, which was “roasted pig,” was so tender, moist and delicious. All the desserts were home-made and of course, we could not miss the wine of the region. To top off the meal, we had a shot of “Crema de Orujo,” which is a local delicious Spanish cream liquor resulting from blending cream with eau de vie and sugar. That was some good stuff!
Our Cáceres visit came to an end. The next day we drove to Madrid and did some last-minute sight-seeing and shopping since we were returning home the day after. After thirteen days and 3,000 miles in a tiny Fiat 500, it was time to go home. We had such a wonderful time in Spain. The fact that we created our own itinerary and were able to follow it at our leisure made it so much better. It was, by far, the best vacation I’ve ever had. I’m looking forward to my next trip to Spain to explore other cities and sights.
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