We've embraced the 'Slow' philosophy as a way of life - what's the hurry?. Taking time to smell the roses (usually on a glass of Viognier) is more our style. Having spent more then 3 years on the road, slow travel has become a way of life. We have revised our plans completely and now focus on quality, not quantity, slowly.
our winter bolt-hole of El Puerto de Santa Maria we headed to the Extremadura
region and camped in Merida. This is, of course, where I fell off my bicicleta and broke my ankle. We really
wanted to return to the region as the Roman ruins and historic towns are
has a 5km medieval aqueduct, 12th – 14th century
Alcazabar, a 700 metre Roman bridge, the most intact Roman theatre in Europe,
Roman amphitheatre and temple. Of course we saw none of this last time.
Incredible Roman Theatre in Merida
Again, we hired
a small car and drove to Elvas in Portugal. You may remember (although I doubt
it) that we had coffee here last year.It was such an interesting town that we booked a hotel for night so we
could see the area. The hotel was a 17th century convent,
beautifully restored and within the city walls. 60 euros for one night
including breakfast (bacon butties, what a treat!!), WIFI and parking!!
protected by star shaped fortifications, the double walls cleverly designed to
allow the inhabitants to take pot shots at would-be intruders. The walls are
completely intact and further protection is provided by outlying forts.
Elvas Aqueduct - note ominous grey sky!
Driving back to
Spain the weather was terrible. It was the kind of heavy rain where you wonder
if you did something really bad in a past life and this was payback time. We
managed a decent lunch in the pretty hill town of Monsaraz. With only 2 streets
and only a couple of alleys, we managed to see the whole town without getting
We arrived back
in Span with a bounty of wine and olive oil.Not that there is a shortage here, but we love the Portuguese stuff and
it is so cheap and the quality is brilliant.
We also spent a
day in Trujillo, another town we saw briefly when I was on crutches. It’s one
of those classic Extremadura towns. Beautiful plaza, mediæval
palaces, churches, alleyways and a wonderful Castle at the top of the hill.
recently said of this region “it’s like Provence pre Mayle”. Now, I didn’t see
Provence before Peter Mayle wrote his best-seller, and there’s no lavender to
be seen, but it does have an untouched, ‘untouristy’ feel to it. At times you
need to ignore the urban sprawl, but there are very few places where this is
not the case.
We are now in
Caceres, which seems to be the epitome of Extremadura towns. The small city
centre is jam packed with palaces, churches, towers, plazas all in a charmingly
haphazard layout, complete with nesting storks.
A real highlight has been the food (Maggie, you need to stop reading
now). We found a wonderful restaurant in the main square that serves really
innovative Spanish food. We generally like mainstream Spanish food, but it can
become a bit dull, a bit ‘same same’. This place serves a tapa with every
drink, of great variety. The first visit was great fun - ordering wine by the
glass (2 euros) and wondering what little treat would arrive. We only needed to
order one thing off the menu. However, day 2 we decided to be more serious.
Pork cheek cooked in Pedro Jimenez, Patatas Brava and Pimiento stuffed with
black pudding, accompanied by local white wine made from grapes we’ve never
heard of.We were in Foodie Heaven, we
hadn’t had food this good since San Sebastian.
had 2 days of sun to enjoy all this, but the forecast isn’t good. The plan was
to head to Monfragüe National Park for Easter but that
doesn’t appeal in the rain so we may just stay here and eat ourselves to death.