Last year The Little Nurse and I were enjoying tapas in a real nice bar in Seville. It was some of the best tapas I have ever had. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find it since. Anyway we got talking to Raul, another customer. Dressed expensively with a €50 euro haircut and a watch that cost more than my car, he turned out to be a hotelier from Extramadura. He asked were we had been in Spain. Quite a lot of places we told him but never to Extramadura.
‘You’re missing out.’ said Raul and listed all the towns we should visit.
Sounded good. We booked flights and a few weeks later we were picking up our car at Malaga airport and heading for our first overnight stop in Zafra.
If you google ‘best things to do in Zafra’ you will get 128,000 results. I think this could be cut down a little, by, say, 127,999 and still I don’t know what would be interesting on the one remaining page. They have city walls. Yawn, who doesn’t, and the petrol station has a delivery Wednesdays. Other than that…
Anyway we checked into a great little, quirky, hotel, Las Palmeras. Not far away was a little bar. Everyone was eating ham and cheese and drinking wine. In order to blend in we ordered some. It was delicious. This region is the home of the acorn-fed black pig, from which comes Jamon Iberico, the really dark ham, not to be confused with Serrano Ham from the white pigs. Paying our ridiculously tiny bill we wandered and saw all the sights. Took about 10 minutes. Unable to find a restaurant we fancied, or a bar better than the first one, we decided to have dinner back there. A good choice. Or should I say, a good choice if you like ham and cheese, because that was the whole menu. Well, we do like ham and cheese so we ordered more, with fresh bread. The delicious wine was €1. The host was pleased we were back and seemed astounded at our capacity for wine. I could tell you how much wine we put away but I don’t want to frighten you. Our host , pleased or not, started clearing down about 11.00 so we pushed off for an early night. Well, early for Spain.
So that’s Zafra. Nothing wrong with it really. Spanish rural life is the same as any rural life. Ever been to Maysville, Kentucky? Or Chandelao, Rajasthan? Or anywhere in the Cotswolds? Jeez, the Cotswolds could put you into a coma. Different strokes for different folks I suppose. Me, I’m an urban fox.
Next morning we set off for Caceras, our base for the next week. We passed a lot of posh farms. Haciendas. Apart from the black pigs, they breed fighting bulls, sheep, and goats here. Driving is a pleasure. the roads are empty. You can drive 20 minutes on a major road and see maybe ten vehicles.
We hit Caceras, slightly busier and with traffic restrictions in the old town where we were staying. Due to my diligent research I knew I could park for free at the back of the bull ring. Google maps had packed in on my phone, so The Little Nurse handed me my sketched map along with my hand written notes. Completed last week, after two particularly good bottles of Rioja, they were now indecipherable. The map looked like a lunatics doodle and the notes like hieroglyphics. I hope I never get entrusted with drawing up the treasure map for some pirates. They’ll never see those dubloons again. I think we passed the bullring three times before we even saw it.
We walked up to the Hotel Casa Don Fernando bang in the middle of Plaza Mayor, the best address in town. The hotel cost €40, your money will go far in Extramadura.
After check in we wandered around the square having a drink here and there and scoping out the restaurants for dinner later.
We settled for pasta in a little place just off the square. The bill for bread, olives, two courses, water and wine was about €25. I like Extramadura. We lingered over coffee and planned the next days trips and after a stroll around headed off to bed. Things were quiet around midnight. This is a different Spain alright.