What a great “entrée” – taking a right turn at the end of the “Avenida de Conde de Barcelona” being actually hit with the impressive and bigger-than-live beauty of the “Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe”. This is how the roman-catholic church has always managed to keep the believers in awe and in line. Driving up “Calle Grégorio Lopéz” you know how pilgrims must have felt – after a long and exertive pilgrimage through the heat of the Extremadura up to the mountains of the Sierra.
Directly opposite the “Monasterio” – there it was, the destination of our stage of the voyage today – the “Parador de Guadalupe”. This is the second time for Manfred and me – the first improvement we notice is the parking that the Parador offers (EUR 12 a day). I recalled the hassle finding a place to park the car during our first visit.
After having parked the cars, unloaded the trunks we entered the Patio of the parador which was exactly the way I remembered it – a place that invites you to rest and to contemplate. The little fountain as its center piece – quite “Zen” I would say. Even the group of German bicycle tourists gathered around a TV screen watching one of the EURO master football matches was not able to distort the peace and quiet of the place.
The check-in procedure was the same as in any of the other Paradores we had been to on this trip – they offered us Superior rooms for EUR 20 more per night – we declined. The Superior rooms have a splendid view on the “Monasterio” (we had one on our first trip), but we figured that we would get to see plenty of the building on our walk.
But the standard rooms were quite nice and absolutely sufficient for a stay of one night.
Quite frankly… the long trip had taken its toll on us. We were tired – not so much from physical activity but from all the many and many beautiful impressions that our sub conscious mind had collected during our drive to Guadalupe and it was trying to process.
Even though it was already 5:00pm it was still extremely hot out there – what we all needed was a break and a shower. However we did not want to deprive M. and B. from a first walk and excursion of Guadalupe.
5:30 pm we met in the lobby to first take a comprehensive tour of the Parador. Guadalupe does not only have a wonderful garden,
but also a quite nice swimming pool.
You, as loyal followers of this Blog – you may already have guessed that I have failed to mention an important ingredient of every day on the road. You are correct: “Where will we have dinner tonight?”. To me and my fellow travellers as essential a question as “What is the meaning of life?”
Manfred had done some research on the Spanish version of Tripadvisor: “El tenedor” (the fork), hoping we would get more Spanish evaluations than American or British (the Carmona experience still stuck deep).
There were two options mentioned:
- La Posada del Rincon
- La Hospederia del Monasterio
We never received an answer to our booking requests from either place – I guessed that these folks don’t really care about online bookings as they have plenty of walk-ins.
During our walk through Guadalupe we found that La Posada del Rincon seemed to be closed either for good or only for a certain period of time – one could not tell as there was no sign informing the potential clients.
You may recall that I wrote earlier: Visit Oropesa for the Parador and visit Cáceres for the city. Guadalupe is worth the visit for both aspects (including the Geo Park around the city).
But back to our walk:
Leaving the Parador you cannot help but to go to the cathedral which draws you towards itself like a giant magnet – and you start feeling like a pilgrim having been exposed to the heat and now being welcomed and overwhelmed at the same time by a mystical interplay of light and dark and being gratified for all the heartship with a merciful coolness.
The cathedral inside appeared quite differently from the outside – apart from the altar – the rest of the church looked quite humble, simple and quite small.
Opposite the altar there was the space for the common believers – citizens of Guadalupe and the many, many pilgrims – above all of them a gallery offered exclusive space for the friar to assist the service. God forbid they mingle with the common crowd.
We left the cathedral and got hit by a wall of still hot air even though the hands of the clock had moved after 6:00pm. I was really interested to take one of the guided tours to the actual monastery – unfortunately, the last tour of the day was given in Spanish – M. and B. would not have benefited much and neither Manfred nor I were good in simultaneous translation – obviously.
We started our tour around the monastery – the streets were still empty, only a few of the bar owners started to set up tables and TV screens (let’s not forget the soccer EURO Master was still on) – Spain was to play that night.
Since we hadn’t heard from “La Posada del Rincon” and we were clearly getting hungry, our next (well my next) priority was to fix dinner before doing anything else. On our way along the impressive walls of the monastery we passed by the “Hospederia del Monasterio” our second choice.
Manfred volunteered to make the booking, while M., B. and I waited in the shadows. We watched him climbing the stairs up the “Hospederia”, hoping that there’d be no issues getting a table for that night.
All a storm in a tea cup – plenty of tables available as Manfred reported, we were good to continue our tour.
We took a right at the end at the next intersection and started a rather steep incline still alongside the walls of the monastery. There were some interesting attractions as we were informed by respective signs.
We passed by the Parador – however decided to have some drinks in one of the bars at the “Plaza de Santa Maria” – which we did. No big surprise – Caña, mineral water (sin gaz) and olives.
You should have seen the look on the waiter’s face when I asked him if he carried “aqua mineral con gaz” – I should have known that outside bigger cities, sparkling water is just not available. The caña was good, the non-sparkling water at least cool.
So we sat there enjoying the afternoon, talking about what we had seen – the plaza started to fill up with people, and all the activities of a normal day started: delivery trucks driving through the small streets – fast. Others loading and unloading goods and supplies for the restaurants and bars around the plaza.
We strolled down Calle Sevilla – I thought I remembered a fountain down there – one I liked the first time we were here. It hadn’t moved and it was still there – patiently waiting for me to take a picture of it.
Time to return to the Parador, to rest and to freshen up before dinner.
Manfred had made the booking for 8:30pm.
The “Hospederia” is great place to dine.
The tables were arranged in the arcades of the inner courtyard of the old monastery (now a hotel and restaurant) – the dimensions of the place were enormeous – all designed to make a man feel small: Ancient mass manipulation – and it still has its effects.
So we litterally took a walk (of 50 Meters or so) from the entrance over the courtyard to the dining area at the far end.
We were greeted friendly and shown to our table – and we knew that this dinner would be the “icing” on a wonderful day.
As starters we ordered:
- half a “tabla de quesos” (cheese from the region)
- half a “tabla de ibéricos” (the sampler of various ham and sausages from the region)
This was plenty – one serving of either cheese or ham would have been sufficient for the four of us. We were tempted by the bread rolls of impressive size, but smart enough to share one roll per couple.
The main courses were:
- “Chulettas de Cordero” (Lamb Chops)
- “Solomillo de Cerdo” (Pork Tenderloin)
- “Cochinillo” (Suckling Pig)
- “Filete de Tenera” (Veal Tenderloin)
We had a great red wine: Attelea Crianza and “Aqua mineral CON GAZ”
Check for the night: EUR 95.10
- Food – 4 of 5 stars
- Beverages – 5 of 5 stars
- Location – 5 of 5 stars
- Service – 5 of 5 stars
A close-to perfect experience. The location was great, the service fast, attentive and professional, the wine excellent and the food was of good quality and nicely cooked.
Now this was no “nueva cocina española”, but down-to-earth authentic extremaduran cooking.
My recommendation – when you ever go to Guadalupe, have dinner at the “Hospederia”.
After the lovely dinner in the “Hospederá del Real Monasteria” we felt like finishing all the red wine that we had bought in Rota but never managed to consume. M. and B. still had two bottles left – why not enjoy them in the Patio of the Parador.
While M. and B. went upstairs to fetch the wine, Manfred to get the cork screw – I went to the bar of the Parador and managed four red wine glasses. I set them out on one of the tables on the Patio – it was a wonderful night, quiet, still warm but the stuffiness of the day had gone.
When we were all gathered at the table we started to sacrify the red wines on the altar of happy holidays. We discussed the last two days, well actually one and a half – and it was a bitter-sweet moment to see the end of your little round trip coming to an end. Before drifting too deeply into depression we decided to cherish the moment – cheers.