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The Spanish Fly - Travels in Spain

The Spanish Fly is a nom de plume of Paul Whitelock who first visited Spain at the age of 20. Now more than 50 years later, he has been to most parts of the country, including nine of the 12 islands. He has owned property in Andalucia since 2001 and has lived in the region for the last 15 years. This blog is a Travelogue about some of the places he has visited.

Extremadura – Journey to the hard extreme – Part 1 - 2002
Thursday, October 26, 2023 @ 8:24 AM

The Spanish Fly has visited Extremadura twice. Once about 20 years ago and again at the end of last year (2022) - each time with different travelling companions. In 2002 with first wife Jeryl and son Tom; last year with second wife Rita.

In Part 1 he describes his first visit in 2002.


The Paradores Five-Night Card

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! I had no idea when I planned our trip.




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 50. 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.


© The Spanish Fly



Black virgin, convent of Santo Domingo, David Purdye, Extremadura, Five-Night Card, Guadalupe, Madrid, Manchester, Morocco, parador, Plasencia, Radio Tarifa, St John the Baptist, Tarifa, Zafra

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