Casa de Insua, Portugal to Salamanca, Spain

Saturday morning we went through the museum at Casa de Insua before starting our travels for the day. Luis de Albuquerque built the Casa de Insua estate using his earnings from when he was Governor General of northern Brazil in the latter 1700s. His maps and artifacts are fascinating. All the tools and wine and olive oil making equipment were also fun to see. His electrical plant was one of the first in Portugal.

We did get off the main road and drive a few backroads on our way to Salamanca. I finally got some pictures of pigs grazing under the oak trees on their way to becoming Spain’s iconic Jamon Iberico.

In Salamanca we walked into the old town from our Parador and explored a bit.

Ciudad Rodrigo to Parador Casa de Insua, Portugal

Friday morning in Ciudad Rodrigo we walked around the town a bit.

I mailed some post cards.

Then we headed towards Portugal. At the border we headed north on a back road to the town and fortifications of Almeida. The walls are in a hexagonal shape and consist of six bulwarks each with its own raveling. The massive fortification is difficult to appreciate from ground level.

There were sheep grazing beside one of the walls.

I totally enjoyed the military history museum.

Down the road a bit we stopped at the small village of Castelo Mendo and had coffee.

We are staying at the only Parador in Portugal. Duke and stayed at Casa Insua in February of 2016. The Parador is in a gorgeous country mansion surrounded by gardens. We had our welcome drink on the patio while Duke beat Butch playing cribbage.

Then we went for a walk in the gardens.

For dinner we beautifully presented and equally tasty.

Plasencia to Ciudad Rodrigo

Before leaving Plasencia Thursday morning we walked around the historic center checking out the churches and historic buildings.

Next we stopped at an Aldi grocery store to buy food for our planned picnic dinner.

When we left Plasencia Thursday morning our first stop was the lookout Mirador Monte Valcorchero. It gives a panoramic view of Plasencia and all the surrounding countryside and the fields surrounding the lookout are covered with cork trees. In the picture below you can see where the cork bark has been stripped of the lower trunk of the tree.

We took backroads to Ciudad Rodrigo driving through thinly populated mountains.

Our Parador in Ciudad Rodrigo is in a former castle. We checked in then climbed to the top of the tower and walked around the wall.

For dinner we had a picnic in our room.

Cáceres to Plasencia

In Cáceres the Staue of the Virgin of the Mountain is brought from the mountain down to the main church before Easter. Then during the first week in May she is carried back to the mountain. This morning after breakfast we went to see the Virgin.

Next we visited the nearby museum and climbed the tower of the Church of San Francisco de Javier.

The crypt of the church has an interesting display about the procession that brings the Virgin down from the mountain

Soon after leaving Cáceres we saw a sign for a Roman Villa. We drove down a dirt road for a couple of miles and came upon the ruins of the villa.

It was a warm day and the sun was intense. We got a few burs in our socks but it was interesting to explore.

We got back on the road and next came to Monfragüe National Park. The terrain and vegetation in this area reminds me of California.

Parador Plasencia is in a former convent. Our dinner was in a beautiful old convent room.

Duke had smoked trout with tomato ice cream as a starter.

My main course was fish and Duke had suckling pig.

Our deserts were wonderful too.

Merida to Cáceres

Merida was established by the Romans in 25 BC as the administrative center of one of the three provinces on the Iberian peninsula. We spent Tuesday morning visiting just a few of the many Roman ruins in Merida.

The Roman amphitheater

and the Theatre.

The National Museum of Roman art is built over a crypt that shows the houses, roads and tombs found during building. It is multistory, and open with natural light. There are four floors and all kinds of art found primarily in Merida.

Next we went to see the excavations in the Crypt of the church of Santa Eulalia.

Then the Aqueduct

And Diana’s Temple

About one o’clock we retrieved our car and drove north to Cácarces. Our Parador is right in the middle of the old walled town. While I took a nap Duke got a haircut.

We had dinner in the Plaza Mayor. It was the night before the May Day holiday and there were lots of people out and about. For desert we bought ice cream.

Ayamonte to Zafra

There is an old tidal mill on the outskirts of Ayamonte. We thought the museum would be open Sunday morning. It wasn’t, but we took a walk on a path in the tidal flats nearby.

We left Ayamonte and headed towards Zafra. After a few miles we stopped for fruit and cheese at a roadside rest area.

We stopped in the little town of Jerez de la Caballeros. We had snacks and walked around a bit. Driving the narrow streets was an adventure in and of itself.

On our way from Jerez de la Caballeros to Zafra we happened to see a sign for a Roman Bridge. We took a short path through the woods and there it was a second century bridge built by the Romans.

Nearby we stopped again to take pictures of a castle on a hill and what the signs said was a medieval bridge.

We are staying at the Parador in Zafra which is built in the 1457 Alcázar de los Duques de Féria.

After we checked in we went down to the Plaza Grande for coffee. Coincidentally they were doing some kind of art installation. First a woman carved a palm tree stump with a chain saw. Then another guy painted it and finally a bass opera type singer serenaded it. The whole thing was rather strange but the people watching was great fun.

We had a typical elaborate and tasty meal at the Parador.


Main course.

Lamb stew.

Veal sirloin.

And for dessert- fried ice cream with chocolate sauce.