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Castles, Courtyards and Cañas on the Coach

26 Oct

We are now feel old enough to join the University of the Third Age, better known as U3A even though here in Jàvea, at least, we are probably amongst the youngest. That suits us just fine as they’re a busy and sprightly bunch, often putting us to shame and there are so many activities we want to get involved in. One of these is the Travel Group which was organising a trip to Extremadura in the west of Spain, towards Portugal, an area we haven’t previously explored.


Monday morning found us lugging our sizable cases to the bus. Yes, that’s right, this was a pensioners’ coach trip. Several very welcome ‘comfort’ stops, two lunch stops (don’t ask) and ten hours later we were in Mérida with the evening free. Not the prettiest of towns, it’s attraction is in the the fact it has been built on a Roman city of which a huge amount still remains. That was all for the following day, however. The night was for the bars and restaurants. An October Monday evening is not the busiest of times but we soon found where the action was both in the Plaza Major and the back streets where a caña and a tapa would set you back the grand total of €1. And I can say, in all honesty, that the restaurant we finally chose had the best red wine I have ever tasted.


Tuesday was ours to explore and, being us, we were the first in the Roman amphitheatre. We had the place to ourselves initially giving us chance to savour walking in the footsteps of gladiators. It is possible to get a bit “Romaned out”, however. There were some twenty odd different Roman sites dotted about, all well worth a visit but by mid afternoon I was ready for a siesta. Did I mention this was a pensioners’ coach trip? Yep, most of them explored the lot.


Come evening and we were raring to go again and met up with another couple who encouraged us to visit one last ruin. The Temple of Diana, just around the corner from the main shopping street, was floodlit and stunning. This called for fizz.


Back to the coach on Wednesday to our next stopover and a guided tour of the medieval town of Cáceres and its fortified noble houses. We walked the walls, explored the church and the Jewish quarter before a lunch of tostada with smoked salmon on oranges, a combination I’d never heard of before but can definitely recommend.


Afternoon was medieval and renaissance Trujillo which was shut but perhaps more attractive for being empty. Home to Conquistadors, every turn was a photograph, but is perhaps best remembered by the U3A for the “little train” debacle.


If it’s Thursday this must be Guadalupe and a rather disappointing visit to a monastery and a surprisingly good community lunch venue before overnight in Ciudad Real. Here the long threatened rain clouds finally burst with dramatic lightning causing us to run into the nearest restaurant for the best meal of our trip. Good food, good wine and great company.

Friday took us to Almagro and a visit to the theatre museum – not what we intended but perhaps actually better than the planned visit to the old theatre itself – and back for the grueling journey home to Jàvea. All great fun and wonderful places but perhaps we’re not ready for more coach trips just yet.



23 Sep

menacing wasp.jpg

The thunderstorms are following us around. We’ve only been here in southern Spain a few days and our second is rattling the shutters as we speak. Being on dry land I’d normally be pretty relaxed about it, though. But no. There’s a huge, great wasp taken shelter in the bathroom. I mean massive. This is the Terminator of wasps. And it chose to make its presence known just as I stepped out of the shower.

Not bothering with the niceties of drying let alone deodorant, I made a run for it, slamming the door – with my glasses on the other side.


“Well it can’t stay there.”

“Well, spray it then!”

“Where’s the spray?”

“Should be under the sink.”

“Is this it?”

(Fumbles blindly, dripping, into the kitchen and holds can an inch from nose to examine) It’s labelled in Spanish but there’s a picture of a mosquito on the front.

“Will that kill it?”

Not having an entomology degree I guess it’s a pretty safe bet it won’t like it.


A few minutes later.

“That sorted it”

“Is it dead”

Running water.

“It is now.”

Retrieving glasses I spot the soggy toilet paper in the sink.

“Is it down the plughole?”

“Yes, the paper’s to make sure it can’t come back.”

“Won’t it block the sink?”

Neil removes the paper bit by bit.

“The bugger’s still alive!” More paper is shoved down the plughole.

More running water.

“It’s dead now.”

Yeah, right. I’ve seen that movie. All four of them.