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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

Journey to the hard extreme – Extremadura – Part 1
Thursday, October 14, 2021 @ 6:30 AM

Pablo de Ronda has visited Extremadura twice – once about 20 years ago and last week. In Part 1 he describes his first visit in 2002.

I went on a parador tour to Extremadura in 2002 with my first wife Jeryl and my son Tom. We had a Five-Night card which gave us five nights’ accommodation at a discounted rate. I can’t remember how much we paid back then - could have been 400€ - but it seemed like a bargain at the time. Especially as we stayed in some fantastic places.

We flew to Madrid, picked up a really dodgy hire car and headed west. First stop was Plasencia. The parador there is in the former convent of Santo Domingo dating from the 15th century. What a stunning place.

The day got even better when I discovered that my favourite Spanish group, Radio Tarifa, was due to play in the square that night. What an amazing coincidence!

This multi-national music ensemble, combined FlamencoArab-Andalusian music, Arabic musicMoorish music and other musical influences of the Mediterranean, the Middle Ages and the Caribbean. The name Radio Tarifa  comes from an imaginary radio station in Tarifa, a small town in the Spanish province of CádizAndalusia, the closest part of Spain to Morocco.

And what a great concert it was! In the interval I approached the bass player, who I knew was English, and had a great chat. David Purdye, a Geordie, had joined the band as a temporary replacement. Despite having no Spanish, he was still with the band several years later ….. and loving it.

I was to see the group perform live twice more, later that year in the huge capacity Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and a year later in a sports hall in Warrington, with a capacity of about 20. Down on their luck, or what? Radio Tarifa split up in 2006, their lead singer and driving force died in 2012 and that was effectively that for this unique band. They left a great legacy though! I listen to them often.

After two nights in Plasencia we headed into the hills to Guadalupe.

The parador here also dates from the 15th century, but this time it was a former hospital, St John the Baptist. Simple, but delightful, with extensive gardens. The basilica here is home to the black virgin of Guadalupe.

Our final stop was Zafra, where the parador is in an old castle, also dating from the 15th century. The internal patio, used as the restaurant, was a charming place to sit and eat the delicious local food.

Two nights there and it was off back to Madrid to catch our flight home to Manchester.

What a great week! A truly Magical History Tour.

Like 1


toolman2 said:
Saturday, October 16, 2021 @ 12:20 PM

I have to agree that Extremadura is a greatly underrated part of Spain but don't speak too much about it or everyone will want to move there. I have a home near Zafra and there are so many unique features, like other regions of Spain, but I have only one life and Extremadura is my choice. I am old-fashioned but to me it represents a slightly more old-fashioned aspect of Spain and its people. I do not recall if I have heard of the music of Radio Tarifa before so I googled them. A quick reference to You Tube and listened to a few minutes of truly enchanting music and I was hooked, so especially for that, I thank you. As to Extremadura? That is my precious secret place.

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