The old quarter of Caceres is one of the settings for the Game of Thones TV series. A renaissance web of cobbled squares, narrow lanes, an ancient archway, the filmmakers would have had to change very little, perhaps cover a few modern street signs, to convey a fantasy medieval town.
It is a pity that not many foreign tourists visit Extremadura, Spanish for ‘extremely hard’. It’s an arid yet majestic area west of Madrid, on the border with central Portugal. The people are very friendly and open, with none of the wariness of the tourist fatigued denizens of more popular areas. You still get free tapas with a drink, virtually unique in Spain today. Prices for food, drink and accommodation are reasonable.
I stayed in a posh Parador, an ex-monastery in Plasencia, an hour north, and a single room in a hostel in Caceres. The thing they had in common? The internet never works in your room, only in the common parts. Be prepared to tether your phone! I’m on 3, which gives you unlimited data it claims, unless you are abroad. You can easily whack through your allotted amount in an evening, leaving you with no data even to follow google maps for the rest of your trip.
I visited several museums, which reveal Arab, Roman and Palaeolithic histories; plus a gallery of conquistador Cacerena families, no shame here, just pride; passed a wedding, women of Caceres in their pomp and glamour; ate in working class restaurants; drank Extremaduran wine and ate sheep’s cheese while perched at a bar; listened to music, la saeta, echoing in the street; purchased good quality tinned fish for my daughter; saw a wheelchair-bound solo mother whizzing along, babe dexterously in arms; bought Kate Middleton style Spanish leather riding boots in a sale; and walked and walked.
The most famous food in Extremadura is cured meat, jamon. Families will spend 300 euros on a leg and make it last a year. Thick soups, fried breadcrumbs ‘Migas’, dessert truffles, a kind of fungus, are popular. They used to eat lizards but this is now banned.
I didn’t have the budget or the time, on this occasion, to eat in the posh restaurants, of which there are several including the Michelin-starred Atrio.
La croissanteria de Laura: light yet buttery, laminated dough a gogo, as good as the French.
La Taperia: good and popular tapas bar.
En Ca Rosi: friendly neighbourhood restaurant, lunch with wine and water 10 euros.
Fear not hipsters, there is a cereal cafe La Casa del goloso. I ordered cinnabon and milk.
They are mostly free for EU residents. I was there on so called Brexit Day, 29th of March 2019. One upside of not leaving, I got free entry.
Casa Museo Arabe – a typical Arabic house, complete with incense.
‘Do you want to go to the bano?’ asked the guide as I was leaving.
‘Er no, I don’t need to go to the toilet but thanks for asking’ I replied.
‘No’ he laughed, ‘I meant do you want to see the hamman style bath in the basement’.
Museo Apple – vintage working Apple computers, which I didn’t have time to visit.