Paradores in Extremadura

Old Feb 20, 18, 12:31 pm
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Paradores in Extremadura

I'm planning a week of walking in Extremadura during the Spring (when I hope that the cherry trees are in bloom). I would love some feedback and advice on my proposed itinerary. I'll be going the first week of April, so plenty of time to make adjustments.

I'd love thoughts from anyone familiar with the region and, especially, the Paradores.

I've been to Plasencia and Cáceres before, but I'm skipping Plasencia this time since my assumption is that Cáceres is slightly better located. I'm happy to reconsider this. Other questions:

- How much time for Mérida and Zafra? I'd like a day or so of looking at ruins in Mérida, but otherwise, I'm trying to be outside as much as possible on this trip.
- Should I end the trip in Seville? Córdoba? I've been to both before, and could either add a night in one of the locations on the itinerary or a night in Madrid.

Any hotels I should consider? Fantastic restaurants?

Thanks in advance!

Day 1, Tue: Arrive Madrid about 4:45 PM. I could either stay in Madrid (where I usually stay at the Hotel Urso) or drive to Ávila or somewhere West.
Day 2, Wed: Drive to Jarandilla de Vera (~2.5 hours). Stay at the Parador for 2 nights. Walk to the Monasterio de Yuste.
Day 3, Thu: at Jarandilla, walking in the Sierra nearby.
Day 4, Fri: Drive to Hervás, walk nearby, drive to Cáceres (~1 hour).Drive to the Parador in Cáceres.
Day 5, Sat: Urban walks in the city of Cáceres.
Day 6, Sun: Drive to Mérida (~1.5 hours), explore Roman ruins.
Day 7, Mon: Drive to Zafra (~1 hour), stay at Parador, walking the Vía de Plata
Day 8, Tue: Zafra, staying in the castle
Day 9, Wed: Drive to either Córdoba or Seville to leave car, catch train to Madrid for three nights at the Urso.
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Old Feb 20, 18, 2:43 pm
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As an alternative, if you love jamon iberico, I'd highly recommend a trip to the Cinco Jotas facilities and a stop in the dehesa to see the pigs. Off the beaten path, but within Extramadura. Spend the night near there and drop off the car in Seville. Check out my recent trip report: Spain Trip Report and Itinerary (16 days), as we really had a blast. If you like this idea, contact Cinco Jotas for tour availability...

We really liked Plasencia, but you've been. Our other alternative was Caceres, but we ran out of time, and I see you've been there too. Of the Paradores, it seems that both Plasencia and Caceres are a cut above Merida and Zafra.

I know Toledo wasn't on your list, but if you wanted to drop the car off in Madrid instead, an overnight in Toledo is also well worth it (Guessing you've also probably been).
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Old Feb 20, 18, 4:06 pm
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Originally Posted by BeachRat View Post
We really liked Plasencia, but you've been. Our other alternative was Caceres, but we ran out of time, and I see you've been there too. Of the Paradores, it seems that both Plasencia and Caceres are a cut above Merida and Zafra..
Thanks BeachRat, I really enjoyed your trip report. I'm a bit of an odd bird as Spain fans go - I'm a vegetarian (which must seem like such a terrible waste to you!). I love Cinco Jotas restaurants, I'm sure I'd love the ham if I were a carnivore.

QQ about Plasencia - it looks like you got a tour of the hotel and the town too, is that right? Did you find that there was much to do there? I love the catacombs in that Parador - that they've converted into a G&T bar. Nuns certainly never had it that good.

Cáceres is worth the trip if you like a striking, impeccably preserved medieval towns. There is also some interesting hiking nearby - there are stone-age dolmens scattered about the countryside in Western Extremadura and across into Portugal.

I'm curious what you've heard about the Paradores in Mérida and Zafra - they're not up to snuff when compared to Plasencia and Cáceres? If so, I'd consider extending my stay around Plasencia and staying in a regular hotel in Mérida. It appears that the castle/Parador in Zafra is pretty much most of what there is to see. If the Parador isn't great, it's not really worth the trip.

Thanks for the advice!
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Old Feb 20, 18, 5:49 pm
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Ahhh, then maybe not the Cinco Jotas tour!

On Plasencia, we actually didn't take a tour ourselves. We spent a fair bit of time just strolling around the parador and ran across several tour groups in the process. We did briefly tag along with an English speaking one. The parador itself, including the catacombs were really beautiful. Lots of history in those walls, and the rooms had such a great period feel. We spend a good day just roaming the streets of the old town. Lots of small shops, cafes and bars to keep us entertained for the day. I wound't say there was a ton beyond that, but staying at the parador and the feel of the city were great. I will add Caceres to our trip for next time.

On the paradores of Merida and Zafra, I did a fair bit of research, and while they definitely seemed nice, they didn't seem to have the same old world charm as Plasencia or Caceres. The Parador de Zafra is adjacent to the castle, but is located in a modern building not part of the original build. The Parador de Merida is located in an 18th Century convent. They're probably still worth staying at if you're in town, overall, but we looking for magical.

Have a great trip!
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