We flew into Sevilla, hired a car and set off heading North. The Sun was shining and showing off the spectacular Spanish landscape we have come to love so much. We were on a quest to experience the ‘real Spain’, to avoid the bus loads of foreign tourists and mass produced supermarket tapas. On a plane at the foot of the steep rocky mountains of Sierra de Castellar in the heart of Baja Extramudura we came across the small town of Zafra, also known as ‘Little Seville’. We sat in a quiet sunny sleepy square having a late lunch of sweet roasted peppers, fresh bread and a cold cerveca. It seemed as though the town was in a siesta slumber, so perfectly peaceful and tranquil with cloudless blue skies and just the odd bird call interrupting the peace. We managed to get a room at the Parador de Zafra, a 15th century Alcazar, looking like a fortress on the outside but more like a palace on the inside. Our room was an interesting small windowless box with a high carved ceiling and a lovely balcony overlooking the square where we had lunch. It definitely felt as though we were guests of the owners. The Parador has works of art hanging on its thick stone walls, large chests and antique ironwork, lots of nooks and crannies with squashy sofas and antique chairs, to curl up and read and soak in the atmosphere. We climbed right up to the roof and walked around the battlements, with spectacular views of the town and the surrounding countryside, it was easy to imagine the Moors riding over the mountains and the castle defending its people in the safety of its massive stone walls. The sunny courtyard was a perfect spot to have drinks before we set off exploring the town. The medieval quarter stretches around the Alcazar in a complex network of cobbled streets, interesting buildings and authentic atmosphere. We came across the Plaza Grande, a square lined with arches and interesting buildings with window boxes full of colourful geraniums. What a delight sitting here enjoying a Friday evening watching the world go by. Families out together, children alongside grandparents, young teenagers chatting and socializing over a coca cola and an ice cream under the watchful gaze of their parents. We felt the lovely sense of community and everyone knowing one another. Friendly waiters were obliging and forgiving of our limited Spanish. Despite being in an adventurous mood, we did resort to Trip Advisor to see if any fellow explorers had an found interesting place for dinner, and we were not disappointed in taking a recommendation to try a little bistro called ‘La Rebotica" whose very talented chef and lovely service helped complete a perfect day.The following evening we had one of our typical favourite Spanish experiences, sitting at a bar being served by a grumpy old waiter throwing plates of very nice tapas at us. Once again we enjoyed being a part of the bar's scenery observing the comings and goings and seeing our waiter bestow what would have been one of his limited number of smiles on his regulars! I think Zafra will be worth a re-visit.

Zafra Parador.jpg

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