mérida, spain

Mérida earned a spot on my "must-see Spain" list almost as soon as I learned that the town has Roman ruins in it.  And there's not just a wall or two from an old temple, there are serious remains from over two centuries ago - Mérida was founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC and they left behind an aqueduct, a circus, a theatre, a temple, and a bridge...this town was a big deal to the Romans, and as a result, it has more ancient monuments than any other Spanish city.

Read More

cáceres, spain

Cáceres is kind of a big deal  - at least in history and on paper.  Its walled city (Ciudad Monumental), which dates from the 16th century, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 and includes remarkably well-preserved homes, churches, and palaces.  The various buildings found inside of the historic quarter seemed (at least to us) to all be very similar in style, but in fact Roman, Islamic, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture can all be found in the area.  

Read More

monfragüe national park, spain

After spending a day in the Jerte Valley and Plasencia, we drove to Monfragüe National Park, home to the largest and best preserved Mediterranean forest in the world.  While in the park we went to a few overlooks, drove on most of the roads that go through it (there's not many, and the majority of the park is closed to visitors anyways for the protection of the land and animals), and climbed to the top of Monfragüe Castle (don't visit just to see the castle though - almost nothing of the 9th century Arab construction remains, so use it as a way to get a good view over the park).  

Read More

life lately: may to august

The past four months, while they may have started out in a fairly ordinary manner, certainly didn't continue that way for long.  In May we carried on teaching at our respective schools but saw classes very rapidly take a more...relaxed turn, shall we say?  In many ways the last two months (ever since returning from Semana Santa/Spring Break) in the middle of April felt kind of like we were on the downhill, especially since just nine days after our 11-day break, we had a four day weekend.  Kids and teachers alike took cues from the weather and started checking out a bit.  

Read More

plasencia, spain

We visited Plasencia for only an afternoon and evening, but the time that we spent there was enough to make an impression.  The modern, contemporary parts of town may look like most any other small town in Spain, and well, the old parts may too, but the historic area of town is really clean, charming, and cohesive and our Airbnb stay certainly didn't hurt in helping make our experience so positive too.

Read More

jerte valley, spain

Perhaps the part of our long weekend road trip from Madrid into Extremadura that I was looking forward to the most was our drive through the Jerte Valley.  We left Salamanca on Sunday morning and drove a little over an hour until we reached the Puerto de Tornavacas, which has a good view over the whole valley...sadly, I cannot confirm or deny that as our visit happened on a day that was foggy, rainy, and cloudy...at certain points we could hardly see beyond the first row of trees or the railing beside the road.  It was a shame, for sure, but at least we weren't visiting earlier in the spring when the trees are blooming with cherry blossoms - then we really would've felt like we were missing out!  

Read More

salamanca, spain

During our last long weekend off before school let out this past spring, Danny and I took a road trip first to the north and then to the west of Madrid.  We started out with a visit to La Granja on Friday afternoon, and then on Saturday morning we got going early so that we could have a whole day in Salamanca.  It's a medium-sized town about two hours by car from Madrid that is famous for its university.  I'd been wanting to visit for a while, but felt it was a little far for just a day trip, so this long weekend seemed like the perfect time to fit it in.

Read More

la granja, spain

At the end of April/beginning of May, we had four days off from school, and even though it was just around ten days after we'd returned from our epic road trip around southern France (which I just finished recapping this past week!), we couldn't let one last chance to get out of town before the end of school pass us by.  I desperately wanted to go to Amsterdam and the surrounding countryside as it was perfect timing for tulip season, but the flights just didn't work out, so we decided to explore an area of Spain that I think flies a bit under the radar, especially with tourists - Extremadura.  Extremadura is a western region that borders Portugal, and doesn't have any particularly large cities, although it does have a lot of nature and rural areas.

Read More