June 17, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Travels in Spain

I’d been north, east and south of Madrid, but had never traveled west, so this last weekend we headed to the province of Extremadura. The first highlight of the trip was the amazing weather – almost too warm at times. It was so warm that we were even able to lay out at the pool for awhile!

Our trip started in the small historic town of Trujillo. It was there that we stayed both Friday and Saturday night in the Parador of Trujillo. The Paradores in Spain are a chain of hotels that usually occupy old historic buildings. Trujillo’s Parador is in an old monastery with tranquil courtyards, fountains and even a chapel turned into a restaurant. Trujillo is a typical Spanish town with small narrow streets that are rocky and cobbled. The city is sprinkled with many small churches and then a castle at the top of the hill that looks out upon the valleys all around it. Both nights we had dinner on terrazas (patios) in Plaza Mayor, the main square. The weather each evening was so perfect and the Plaza so vibrant that we couldn’t have asked for anything more.

On Saturday, after walking through Trujillo and visiting the castle, we made the small drive to the town of Mérida. While Mérida the main city isn’t anything to write home about, it’s Roman ruins are. The city’s Roman ruins reminded me very much of my recent trip to Rome, but of course on a my smaller scale. Mérida’s ruins include a coliseum, an amphitheatre, an aqueduct, bridges, and more. It’s amazing to see the far reaching influence of the Romans all over Spain and Europe thousands of years later.

Sunday brought the most impressive part of the trip – Cáceres. Cáceres is another city in the province with an absolutely charming historic town. Jacob had not yet been in the historic town so he and I were both blown away. The city’s small winding streets are constructed out of an almost radiant color of orange rock, and the buildings seemed to be made of a variety of colorful types of rocks. It gave the city a certain glow that I haven’t seen in the other ancient Spanish towns. That coupled with the blooming bougainvillea and ivy crawling on many of the street walls was enough to make me fall in love with the little town! Definitely a “must see” place here in Spain.

As if we hadn’t packed enough into our small weekend, we decided to drive through a national wildlife preserve on our way home. The park is known for a certain area where you are able to watch the many vultures hovering over the valley. We drove there and discovered that we could hike up to the top of a mountain where there was a small 11th century castle/tower (of Arabic origin). Once reaching the top we were actually able to climb inside the castle and stand on top of it, at which point we had a 360 degree view of the entire landscape around us, including the Tajo River as well as the many gliding vultures. It was quite a sight.

Now I am back in Madrid, with the clouds teasing me with rain again. The forecast indeed says that it may rain today. I guess I can’t complain after such a fantastic weekend though! By the way, has anyone heard about the crazy gas strikes by the truck drivers here? If so, the footage they’ve been showing on TV in the States has been of the freeway right here where I live! I even saw the building of my English school company in the background on the Today Show (which I download daily)! Such a small world!