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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 2 - 2021
Thursday, October 26, 2023 @ 10:48 AM

The Spanish Fly has visited Extremadura twice – once just over 20 years ago and again just recently. In Part 1 he described his first visit with his first wife and son in 2002. In Part 2 he covers the five-day visit he and his second wife Rita made in 2021.



19 years since my last visit it was time for me to rediscover Extremadura. This time I wanted to check out all seven of the paradores located in the region. And I wanted to show my wife Rita this beautiful part of Spain located slightly off the beaten track.

Once again, I bought a Five-Night Card. This cost just 600€. That works out at 120€ per night, breakfast included, and 20 per cent discount on all food purchased in the parador.

I am also an Amigo de Paradores which means there are certain perks like discounted parking, a welcome drink on arrival, and occasional special offers such as tours or other activities.

In addition, for every 3 euros spent you get a point. And what do points mean? Prizes!

Well in the case of this loyalty scheme, you can exchange points for accommodation or meals. In the old days I had many a free night’s accommodation for my accumulated Amigo points.


Sunday 3 October 2021

On this trip we stayed in different paradores than my previous trip, except for Zafra, the most southerly one, which is just three hours from Ronda. So, we spent the first night there.


The parador is in a 15th century castle-palace built on the remains of an Arab fortress. Rita loved it.

We paid a small supplement to get upgraded to a larger room.

After a stroll through the old part and a light lunch in the Plaza Chica, just off the Plaza Mayor, we took a siesta before dressing up for dinner. We ate well in the parador restaurant, Rita “maining” on lomo de ternera and me on a leg of baby goat. Mmmm!


                 Parador de Zafra (Photo: Paul Whitelock)


Monday 4 October 2021

The following morning, after a hearty breakfast, we had a look around Zafra before heading north.

We called in to look at the parador in Plasencia – a 15th century former monastery. Beautiful. It was very busy, so we didn’t stay long.

A further hour’s drive brought us to our parador for the night, in Jarandilla de la Vera. Well, we thought Zafra and Plasencia were both excellent, but Jarandilla was simply stunning. A 15th century castle-cum-palace, it seemed perfect in every way.


After a very late lunch (ca. 5.00 pm) we took some photos and wandered around the sleepy town. Then after a short siesta, it was time to eat again!

The parador restaurant was packed! Once again, our dinner was excellent.

We try to focus on local dishes, so we shared a partridge salad before we both had poached salmon with a dressing of crema de espinacas on a bed of boulanger potatoes. Washed down with a bottle of locally produced Sauvignon Blanc.  Muy rico.



            Parador de Jarandilla de la Vera (Photo: Karl Smallman)


Tuesday 5 October 2021

Day 3 began with another huge breakfast, before we headed off to Guadalupe to check out the parador there. I had been before, 19 years ago, but for Rita it was new.

Such a pretty paradora former hospital (15th century), with a gorgeous patio full of lemon trees.

We went to see the Black Virgin in the basilica before returning to the parador for lunch in the aforementioned patio.

We shared two dishes:  an ensalada de naranjas and vieiras gratinadas (coquilles St Jacques). Just right.

Then it was on to Trujillo, our resting place for the next two nights.


The parador here, a former castle, stands at the top of the town. It is just a few minutes’ walk to the impressive Plaza Mayor, which boasts an imposing statue of Francisco Pizarra, born here and the conqueror of Peru.

The first night we dined in the parador restaurant. The food was unremarkable, so much so that I can’t even remember what we had.



                    Parador de Trujillo (Photo: Karl Smallman)


Wednesday 6 October 2021

We drove to Cáceres to check out the parador and the city. The zona monumental, where the parador is located, was a delight. Lots of old buildings and narrow cobbled streets largely free of traffic.

The Cáceres parador was old on the outside and modern inside. Not our favourite, but clearly popular with others, as to stay there with the Five-Night Card you must pay a supplement of 60€!

We had lunch at a restaurant in the Plaza Mayor. I had a menu of the day and Rita chose carrilleras (carrilladas or pork cheeks to us!)

We drove on ordinary roads back to the parador in Trujillo and had a rest before ambling down to the square for a light dinner in the Plaza Mayor there. Just to make a change from the somewhat samey parador offer.


Thursday 7 October 2021


After breakfast in Trujillo, we drove to Mérida, parked at the parador, checked in and went for a nice, relaxed lunch in the patio. The parador here was an 18th century convent and very spacious.

After a siesta we went for a stroll and took some nice photos of the Alcazaba (9th century Arab fortress) and the Roman bridge.




                    Parador de Merida (Photo: Karl Smallman)

The menu at the parador offered some things we’d not previously had, so we dined in. What a good decision. We shared a starter, beef croquetas , then Rita had atún con algas (tuna with seaweed) and I chose filete de dorada (gilt head bream). A couple of glasses of a local white and we were well set for a good night’s sleep!


Friday 8 October 2021

As is my wont, I went in search of an early morning coffee.

Finding a café open early when away from home is easier said than done, however. In a couple of places on this tour of Extremadura it has entailed walking or driving around darkened streets until I spotted shadowy figures huddled together outside a dimly lit bar.

Here in Mérida, it was easy; I just headed for the Plaza de España, five minutes’ walk from the parador, and the Bar Arcada was waiting for me with open arms.

Full of regulars and early work starters, as are all early bars, it’s great fun to listen in and sometimes to join in. Trouble is, once they find out I’m British, they only want to talk about – you guessed it – BREXIT! No Spaniard understands why we would want to leave the EU. Them and me both!

After our final hearty breakfast for a while, we packed, paid the bill, and loaded the car.

Then it was off to do a bit of Roman culture. We headed for the theatre and the amphitheatre where we got to use our tarjeta sesentaycinco for the first time to get a 50% discount on the price of admission.

The restoration of these two Roman monuments has been tastefully done and the results are really stunning. We passed a good hour there and took some great photos.

After a bit of window shopping on the way back to the car, we said our farewells to Mérida before setting off back to Andalucía and Ronda.

It probably sounds like we had a hedonistic week, over-indulging on delicious food. Well, we did, but surprisingly I hadn’t put on a single gramme in weight!



We had a fabulous week, well deserved after a tough year at the hands of Covid-19.

We visited all seven paradores in Extremadura and stayed in four.

Our favourite paradores were (in alphabetical order):

Guadalupe; Jarandilla de la Vera; Mérida; Trujillo and Zafra

Our favourite towns were:

Cáceres; Guadalupe; Mérida and Trujillo.


© The Spanish Fly



Amigo de paradores, Cáceres, Covid-19, Extremadura, Five-night card, Guadalupe, Jarandilla de la Vera, Mérida, parador, paradores, Paul Whitelock, Pizarra, Plasencia, Spain, Trujillo, Zafra



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