Plasencia & 007

Dear friends and family,

You know you're a child of the 'sixties (in America and Britain, anyway) when a certain cool retro futurism makes the soundtrack from James Bond play in your head, and you don't mind.

If you read our last email, we drove through the snow of Avila, and down through the Jerte Valley, and drove into Plasencia at dusk. I wanted to stay in at least one parador, and from my research one of the better ones appeared to be in Plasencia. So we followed the signs for the parador and saw a sign for parador parking which appeared to point into the side of the fortified city wall. So strains of 007 soundtrack playing in our heads, we watched while the gated door opened and we squeezed our car into the tiny elevator space allotted to us. Glad we weren't driving something large.

 Inside the car elevator, we were lifted up 3 floors to their parking garage, underneath the city. Did they excavate this?

And that's how big the space actually is. You can't just drive through; first they enclose your car into a little sealed capsule and check you out, I guess.

This really is the most beautiful parador. This wide hallway/lounge surrounds the patio and inner garden on 4 sides. The rooms come off these wide corridors. Our room was a small suite: An entry room, a bedroom, and the bathroom.

This jaw-dropping room is where they served a lavish breakfast buffet the next morning.

Outside the parador. There is a beautiful church next door; that is the entrance to the right. Our blind luck, the weather is gorgeous. People are stranded in snowbound airports in Northern Europe. This is the day before Christmas.

Plasencia is a small town and so we stayed for only one night. Next stop: Caceres, its entire historical center has been designated a World Heritage site. (From the UNESCO site) The city's history of battles between Moors and Christians is reflected in its architecture, which is a blend of Roman, Islamic, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance styles. Of the 30 or so towers from the Muslim period, the Torre del Bujaco is the most famous.

Many of the conquistadors who explored and plundered the Americas came from this area, the Extremadura, which is the province which contains Caceres and Plasencia. They brought their riches back to what is essentially a rather poor area. Very impressive architecture results.

Our hotel in Caceres was perfectly nice, but much more modest and not terribly interesting, so no pictures. Here are some photos of the old town of Caceres.

Detail of the intricate stone carving.


Era and Don