After more than a year together I thought it was about time to take my Scottish boyfriend to Extremadura and show him around the region I come from. He’s been in Spain many times, but only to Madrid, Barcelona and main tourist destinations on the coast. This trip to Extremadura would show him another Spain and would be a new experience. It would also be the perfect occasion for me to know what a Brit thinks of my home region.
I wanted to share his impressions with you on this blog and I hope you find this interview interesting and helpful if you have been toying with the idea of visiting Extremadura.
What did you know about Extremadura? What were your expectations before the trip?
Not a lot. I knew it was a quite big, but not very densely populated area near Portugal and, of course, I knew about the black pigs that eat acorns here. I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest; perhaps just a vast countryside with single-track roads. I didn’t expect monuments to be in such a good condition either.
You have spent ten days in Extremadura visiting Trujillo, Don Benito, Cáceres, Alburquerque, Mérida and Medellín. Any favourite places?
They all had awesome features. The highlights would be the views from Santa María church tower in Trujillo, Cáceres’ medieval streets, Alburquerque’s castle and some amazing houses built into the rocks, Mérida’s Roman theatre and amphitheatre and Medellín’s Roman theatre and views from the castle.
What did you think about food in Extremadura? Did you try anything different to what you are used to eating? What would you recommend other travellers to try?
I thought food was really good. I tried lots of good Iberian pork (which was awesome), ham, cheeses, flan (caramel custard, similar to crème caramel), migas (fried breadcrumbs) and I even had rosquillas (Spanish doughnuts covered with sugar) for breakfast.
I would definitely recommend trying Iberian ham from local acorn-fed black pigs and all things Iberian, such as lomo (pork loin) and chorizo, as well as sheep cheeses like Torta de la Serena (creamy cheese made from Merino sheep milk) and goat’s cheese with paprika. Solomillo ibérico (the best cut of pork, located right under the loin) is a great option for a main. Sweets like perrunillas (a traditional sweet made with lard that has a very rich taste) are awesome and, if you happen to be in Alburquerque, buy some empanadas (sponge cake-stuffed flour pastry covered with sugar) and have them for breakfast or coffee time.
What was the most shocking or surprising thing you have seen?
A small little house carved into a stone in Alburquerque. There was this huge stone inside two of the bedrooms that left little room for you to move. I cannot believe 8 people fitted into that house!
Sadly, I also noticed many shops have closed down and there is a number of houses for sale in all places I visited.
What differences between Extremadura and Scotland/the UK have you noticed?
People are generally more relaxed in Extremadura. Lunches are bigger too.
In Extremadura, shops and bars stay open later and tickets to monuments are way cheaper than in the UK.
Despite all the monuments, Extremadura receives less visitors and does not have as many tourists as I would expect.
Give three reasons why someone should visit Extremadura.
- It hasn’t really been explored, so it’s not exploited.
- It does not have this big city culture, so it’s still quite traditional, which is a nice thing to see.
- The food.
Some impressions during the trip:
‘It’s a lot hillier than I thought.’
‘Wow. The scenery is pretty awesome.’
‘It’s not like anything we have in Britain.’
‘I cannot believe how quiet roads are here.’
‘There are loads of tomato factories.’
‘There is a stork nest on every single electric tower. It’s crazy.’
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