Leaving Mérida with its UNESCO Word Heritage Sites behind us we continued our trip south, only to leave the highway once again just before the city of Zafra to travel on one of the “county roads”, the N-325 with direction to Córdoba. This reduced our travel speed from 120km/h down to 100 if not 80km/h depending on the traffic.
We had to follow a truck loaded with goods and no chance to pass for at least 20km – but as the title of this article rightfully suggests: The jouney is the destination – we were in no rush and M. and B. driving behind us had time to enjoy the wonderful extramadurian countryside.
At Llerena we took a right turn to leave the N-325 and to continue on an even smaller road, the EX-200 turning into A-433 at the “border line” between the autonomous regions Extremadura and Andalucia.
You may have guessed that the letters in the names of the roads denote the region.
We took a bio / coffee break in Llerena, however skipped the visit of the city center with its beautiful church.
Driving through a couple of scenic small towns through pleasant landscape the mind started to wonder off (if I only didn’t have to drive). This is the magic of this part of Spain it has this soothing effect even on the most stressed-out Western Europeans.
Before entering “San Nicolás del Puerto” I had to stop as I had seen an information sign reading: “Playa Fluvial” – most strange… we were in the middle of the Sierra, far away from any sea – had I lost my way? Had my mind wandered off too far?
The “Playa Fluvial” is as the name suggests, a beach on a river – a great idea to provide recreational places in structurally weak areas of the country. Another sign informed us that this playa had been created with funding from the EU – money well spent, I’d say.
We stopped a couple of times so that M. and B. could take pictures – as a responsible tour guide however I had to increase travel speed a bit for us to arrive 4:00pm-ish in Carmona.
We reserved the visits of scenic sites like “Constantina” for our way back to Madrid. So more pictures to come from that leg of our trip.
We left the “Sierra Norte de Sevilla” at “Lora del Rio” and entered the Andalusian plains, still on the country roads we made our way towards Carmona which soon came into sight, situated on a hill – waiting for our arrival, or so it seemed.
The two cars climbed the way up through the narrow streets of Carmona and through the old moorish gate we drove into the vast and spaceous courtyard of the Parador.
Greeted by the entrance we entered and checked in.
At the check-in I noticed that two large groups of tourists had checked in before us – I suspected that these groups would dine at the Parador; Manfred double-checked with the restaurant of the Parador – affirmative.
Neither of us felt particularly game spending dinner in a room with 50+ mass-tourists, in consequence we needed to find a restaurant outside.
From our past trips to Carmona we knew exactly which rooms to book explicitely: rooms in the range 401 to 406, as these are the rooms with the balcony and the splendid view into the plain.
That is what I call “a room with a view”.
After the selective un-packing routine, some freshen-up and rest, the exploration part began. First the Parador itself, then the city of Carmona, besides we needed a place to eat dinner that night.
The Parador (ex-Alcazar) was built into a steep hill, that is why the actual front desk area is on level 3, level 4 is one level above ground and all the other levels are part of the hill.
And that is why the quite large swimming pool is deep down and can only be reached by elevator or on food climbing down / up the stairs. (Almost a day trip)
Carmona is a cosy town with quite some historic monuments and churches not quite as ladden with historic buildings in one spot as Cáceres but with its fair digestible share.
During our walk we learnt that there would be a run that night in conjunction with exceptional display of the statue María Santísima de la Esperanza in the streets of Carmona. Something we would miss as we’d be in Rota by that time.
So we focussed at what we currently saw and experienced and we were quite impressed. The visit was worth the trip.
The inhabitants seemed to be quite charming.
Manfred researched dinner possibilities while we had drinks at the bar “Goya” at “Plaza San Fernando”. The restaurant “El Molino de la Romera” seemed to be a valid option. We should have known that a restaurant in eye sight of the Parador might not be such a good idea…
Manfred, who was kind enough to make the booking onsite and returned quite optimistic from the way the restaurant looked inside.
We got there at 9:00pm – and indeed the place made a good impression…
We had four starters:
- Tomate Relleno de Atun
- Chuletita Cordero
- Presa Iberica
- Solomillo Ibérico
- Solomillo con Sala de Jamón
- Mineral Water
- Cava Rosada (Sparkling Wine that we actually wanted by the glass)
We all passed on the desert.
Check for the night: EUR 94.40
- Food – 2.5 of 5 stars
- Beverages – 4 of 5 stars
- Location – 4 of 5 stars
- Service – 2.5 of 5 stars
Too cut a long story short, the food did not match up with the looks of the restaurant. The service was sloppy, the place touristy – the waiters knew they would never see us again – hit the money and run.
There was not much Atun in the tomatoes, the Lamb Chops were a joke.
Manfred admitted later that he had found the place on Tripadvisor because no local review could be found – so, at least we knew why we ended up in a tourist rip-off.
As a consolation – we settled on the balcony of M. and B.’s room, openend a nice bottle of red wine and enjoyed the warm evening and the nice view.