While planning this trip, I met many people who would say, upon learning that I planned a tour of the Iberian Peninsula, “ah, around the coast, huh? no reason to go to the middle.” Let it be known: they are wrong.
The overview in my guidebook reads as follows:
“Of all the Spanish regions, far-flung Extremadura — ‘the land beyond the River Douro’ — is the most remote from the modern world. Green sierras run southwards through rolling hills strewn with boulders. Forests and reservoirs shelter rare wildlife. The towns, with their atmospheric old quarters, have a romantic, slow-paced charm. In winter, storks nest on their spires and belltowers.”
-DK Eyewitness Travel – Spain
This was the perfect day. I woke up, made myself coffee and a light breakfast in the guesthouse kitchen, and walked to the eco-store in town, where the owner is a massage therapist, beautician, and shopkeeper. I chatted with her a bit, then had a massage, then she made some suggestions for my day, getting very enthusiastic.
I had come up with what I thought was a good enough random plan myself: drive towards Las Hurdes hills then back to Hervas for a restaurant I’d looked up, then another drive, perhaps along the scenic route to Jaraiz de la Vera. However, if a local so emphatically insists you see things you didn’t even know about, goddammit, you just do it.
So I drove instead to visit the medieval walled town of Granadilla. I arrived at 12:30, which is lucky, because apparently unstaffed monuments also take lunch and siesta, from 13:30 until 17:30. Who knew? I wonder who goes chasing around all the tourists wandering around the town, and locking them out?
The grounds around this monument are called Tierras de Granadilla, and involve a huge nature park. I could see some trails, and the water looked pristine. I don’t know my birds too well, but I saw a lot of gorgeous ones.
After the visit, I took a leisurely but pretty short trip to Hervas, where I parked in the middle of a busy plaza and wandered into the Jewish quarter for lunch. I was lucky to get there just as they were opening, so had no trouble getting a table.
I chose the gastronomical set menu, which was 5 courses including an excellent wine, bottled water, bread and coffee. If there IS a chef’s menu for the day, I think it’s best to order it. 😀
My favorite course was the salad, which was truly wonderful. Those mushrooms!
Dessert was really colorful and pretty.
I was so full when I finished, so I took a walk to the town’s municipal park and botanical gardens, where many people were picnicking.
The formerly busy plaza was dead quiet when I left and took a “winding route” (on my TomTom navigation) through the Casas de Monte to the Roman ruins of Caparra. That route was great, interspersed with villages built into rocks and around them, with waterfalls running through them. Every other bend had a lovely scenic outlook, and the alternating ones all seemed to have little old men gazing up at the walnut and olive trees, or the grapevines.
The Caparra site was really nice, with good signage to explain everything, except for the fact that the English translation was clearly done by Google.
This season is an excellent time to explore this part of Spain. The walnut trees, in huge orchards, with fields of purple and yellow flowers surrounding them and cattle, goats, sheep and some horses grazing here and there– it’s all so picturesque. I can imagine it gets quite hot later in the year, but it was very comfortable today. I got a little too warm occasionally (hiking around in the sun) and a little too chilly occasionally (sitting on a shaded terrace to eat lunch).