Christmas in Sierra de Gredos

Nov 7th, 2008, 01:29 AM
  #1  
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Christmas in Sierra de Gredos

Hi, fodorites,

A few months back, I asked for some help with Christmas rentals in Spain, with the idea that we were looking for sun and warmth. Well, some of you very correctly discouraged that approach, so we've decided to embrace the cold and go for the mountains.

I've rented a old stone house in the Sierra de Gredos in a town called Navalonguilla. It's about 40 km from the parador, under 100 km to Avila, Salamanca, and Plasencia for daytrips, and of course right out our door there are many day hikes up into the mountains.

My questions --

Where would you eat Christmas dinner? One option is to cook it ourselves, but a good meal out and in a pretty place would be fun, too. We ate Christmas dinner one year in the parador in Jaen and it was memorable, the place more than the food. Would the parador in Navarredonda be a good choice?

Do you have any favorite restaurants (both in the Gredos mountains and in the cities I've mentioned), places to visit in that area, hikes to take? I have started searching through old posts and have found a couple of suggestions. In one of them I found a reference to a Maribel guide to Salamanca, but I can't seem to find it on her website. Does anyone have more information on that?

And I also have a question about meeting up at the Madrid airport, but I'll post that one separately.

Thanks so much, Laurie
lreynold1 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2008, 02:53 AM
  #2  
 
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Here is the link to Maribel's fabulous guides; if the Gredos area is included, you really do not need any other guidebooks! We drove through that region en route to Segovia a few years ago and it is truly beautiful. What a wonderful experience you have to look forward to.

Do you mind sharing info about how you found the house, and maybe provide a link so we can see it?

http://www.maribelsguides.com/#segovia
ekscrunchy is offline  
Nov 7th, 2008, 07:09 AM
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Good for you--that is a beautiful area. I spent a day driving through the Gredos when I spent a week at the Englishtown school in Barco de Avila. I would reserve at a Parador--either the one in the Gredos where I had lunch that day, or the one in Avila. They always do special days well.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Nov 7th, 2008, 09:10 AM
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Ireynold1,
Good for you to embrace the cold and go for the mountains!
We made the Sierra de Gredos the first part of a swing through Extremadura and loved it!

We stayed at the rustic Parador, Spain's first, in Navarredonda, on a holiday weekend when it was filled with families who had come down from Madrid for hiking, skiing and horseback riding, so the atmosphere was quite lively. We did have Sunday breakfast in the dining room (eating late so we could make it brunch), but our other meals were taken outside the Parador. But since options for you will be limited on Xmas day, I'd choose the Parador, which of course, will be open for dining.

The next time we return to that part of the Sierra de Gredos, we'll stay either at the B&B El Remanso de Gredos in Navalonguila or at El Milano Real in Hoyos del Espino (closer to you) which also has a noted restaurant, with cuisine a notch above the Parador's and young, creative chef. I don't know whether they'll open the restaurant to the public on Xmas day (it's usually open to all), but I'd certainly give them a call or email.
From Oct. 15-May 15 they are usually closed for lunch on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday.
www.elmilanoreal.com
Phone: 920 349 108


I don't think anything in Barco de Avila would be better (or even open), except for the 4 star Hotel Puerta de Gredos. I also might consider driving up to the charming town of Candelario which merits a visit during your stay. There's acharming small B&B there which also has a restaurant. Again, don't know if it will be open to the public on Dec. 25, but it would be nice for another day, at least.

Casa de la Sal
www.casadelasal.com
phone: 923 41 30 51

I have more ideas that I'll list later when I come back from work.

Laurie,
I do have a Salamanca guide but not formatted for my web page yet. I'll be glad to send it to you (as I did to bobthenavigator) if you'll kindly email me at www.maribelsguids.com
Maribel is online now  
Nov 7th, 2008, 07:41 PM
  #5  
 
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Hi Laurie,
More thoughts...

From your base at Navalonguilla I see the following excursions possible for you, all which we've done and really enjoyed:

Candelario in the Sierra de Béjar, which is truly, truly picturesque with half timbered homes and gushing streams running through the town-unique architecture-great place.

la Peña de Francia lookout point, which you can climb to, and the entire Sierra de Francia-Las Batuecas, including one of Spain's most picturesque medieval villages, La Alberca de Salamanca-a GEM!, plus truly a step way, way back in time to the neighboring villages of Miranda del Castañar, San Martín del Castañar and Mogarraz (these are in the Salamanca province).

In La Alberca de Salamanca there is a small costume-ethnographic museum where you can see the elaborately embroidered costumes still worn by the citizens on feast days, just beautiful embroidery-works of art.

There are La Covatilla ski slopes near Béjar, a textile town, if you're interested, and cova gave us a great dining reco in the town, La Bejarana, which we enjoyed very much for a weekend lunch.

And if you plan to venture as far as Salamanca, you'll be within striking distance of the fortified border town of Ciudad Rodrigo, plundered by Wellington in 1812. You can climb parts of the walls, see the cathedral and the atmospheric Plaza Mayor and dine at the Castle-Parador.

In the Cáceres province:

I certainly wouldn't miss Hervás in the Valle del Ambroz for a stroll around its ancient Jewish quarter (you;ll see stars of David still intact on some homes) and its unique architecture. We enjoyed lunch there at Restaurante Nardi on Braulio Navas 19.
www.redjuderias.org

And although it's prettiest at cherry blossom time, I would also spend time exploring the Valle del Jerte and the picturesque villages of the pimentón producing Valle de la Vera. From our base in Jarandilla we explored Garganta la Olla (lots of charm-tobacco producing as well), Valverde de la Vera and Villanueva de la Vera. These last two are very atmospheric. We ventured as far east in the valley as Candeleda, which also has a great deal of charm. And there's a Celtic settlement nearby, El Raso.

Regarding dining in the Valle de la Vera, I've heard great things about Ruta Imperial, which is both a rural hotel and restaurant in Jarandilla. I would choose it above the Parador there. But it's closed on Xmas Eve.
www.hotelruralrutaimperial.com

And of course if you haven't already been, you'll want to vissit the final retreat of Charles V at the Monasterio de Yuste. I was struck by how ulterly unpretentious and small, somber a place it was for his final abode.

And on the way up to the Monastery you'll pass the German war Cemetery on your right. On this German war cemetery all German war graves in Spain and from both World Wars are brought together. There are 154 graves from the Second World War and 26 from the First lying there.

Most casualties were washed ashore on the Spanish coast.

And an excursion we were so, so glad to make was to Granadilla, a village which was abandoned, disappeared under water with the construction of the Embalse de Gabriel y Galán and is now being rebuilt by local volunteers. It reminded me of an abandoned movie set, so quiet and serene, which you will have almost entirely to yourself if you venture there mid-week. And on the way you canstop to visit the Roman ruins of Cáparra. But if you've already walked the Vía de la Plata you may know this site.

We also enjoyed the town of Coria, about 35 km west of Plasencia, in the Valle del Río Alagón. The town is surrounded by Roman walls and filled with crumbling noble mansions. It has huge potential but has yet to be "spruced up" for major tourism. Within the Catedral de la Asunción there's a Museum of Sacred Art, whose prized piece is claimed to be the tablecloth from the Last Supper.
Coria is located south of the desolate and isolated Las Hurdes of the Buñuel movie Land without Bread. On the way to Coria, the town of Galisteo merits a stop for a photo op of the castle and the town's amazing Arab walls.

We enjoyed the Tuesday market in Plasencia, dating from the 17th century, and we followed our morning there with a great lunch in the stunning dining room of the Parador.

If you want to venture this far down, some great walking could be in the Parque de Monfragüe. We spent half a day there and didn't venture all the way in, just as far as Torrejón el Rubio and the castle, up, up to which we climbed for some truly amazing views and to contemplate the soaring of the black vultures. The park has the world's largest concentration of breeding black vultures. Great excursion for birding!

The above are just a few ideas, and if I think of more before Mon. when we leave for 2 weeks of exploring Navarra, I'll pass them on here.
Maribel is online now  
Nov 7th, 2008, 08:01 PM
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I forgot to include the Monastery of Palancar, which we added to our excursion over to Coria. It's just a slight detour from the A 66 below Plasencia. We very much wanted to see this "smallest Christian Monastery in the world", and tiny, tiny it is! If your timing is right, you'll be given a guided tour by one of the 5 (I think) Franciscan monks inhabiting the monastery.

Maribel is online now  
Nov 8th, 2008, 12:36 AM
  #7  
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Hi,again,
I just don't know what to say! Maribel, this is wonderful information. I will email you on your website for the Salamanca guide, but I kind of feel greedy asking for more. Your recommendations for day trips are terrific -- I don't know Caparra because I haven't walked the Via de la Plata yet (I've got that planned for my spring fling, April-May 2009). And Maribel, have a great trip to Navarra.

Ekscrunchy, I found the house through www.toprural.com We have used them before, for both Spain and Portugal, and I haven't been disappointed yet. I see on their website that they also have listings in Andorra, Belgium, France, Italy, and Luxembourg. I first used the site in 1995, and the listings have grown tremendously since then.

Thanks again so much! Laurie

lreynold1 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 05:15 AM
  #8  
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Much to my delight, the Milano Real has emailed me that they are open for Christmas Day dinner, and I've just made a reservation.

Thank you thank you, Maribel!

Laurie
lreynold1 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 09:54 AM
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Laurie,
That's great news! You should have a great meal in just a spectacular setting!
The village of Hoyos del Espino is known for its baked goods-breads, pastries, and El Milano Real really is, I think, the best dining spot around. Its rating keeps rising in Gourmetour, and it's also recommended in the reliable Campsa guide.
As I said, we would love to return for a weekend stay some day because the setting is just so inviting.

In addition to the Roman ruins of Cáparra, you also have the town of Baños de Montemayor on the Vía de la Plata, which I forgot to mention, with some pretty churches from the 15th-17th centuries along with its spa. It can be combined with a visit to Hervás and Candelario (which is just so atmospheric, don't miss!)

About dining in Hervás: I checked and Nardi may be closed during Xmas week, so I would go instead to El Almirez on Collado 19 (closed Mon.) or to the restaurant in the Hospedería Vallde del Ambroz, if you hit the town at lunch time.

The Extremadura Tourist Board, Junta de Extremadura Consejería de Turismo, produces some really fine brochures, including one on the Ruta Vía de la Plata. The girls at the T.O. in Coria were so happy to see us, to have some customers that day, that they loaded us up with brochures and books both in Spanish and English. I had to say Stop! because I just couldn't take them all back with me, and I do love my brochures and travel guides!

If you'd like some of these ahead of time, here's the email:

[email protected]

Laurie,
We chose our lodging in rural Navarra from toprural.com as well. We're excited about it, as it comes very well recommended, offers extremely reasonable prices including breakfast, has only 4 rooms, plus that all important (for us O bodega, and the owner is a Romanesque art specialist who loves to devise driving tours for his guests centered around Romanesque art. It's the Casa Lakoak in tiny Garinoain, just 18 km. south of Pamplona, in case you're ever interested in casa rural in that neck of the woods.
www.casarural-lakoak.com

Top Rural is just a great resource.

Maribel is online now  
Nov 9th, 2008, 01:51 AM
  #10  
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My cup runneth over with great information! I am so thankful, Maribel. And I hope you have a wonderful trip to Navarra. The house looks lovely. In my next life, I want to come back as you so I can take all these fabulous trips of yours! Laurie
lreynold1 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 04:48 PM
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Hi Laurie, me again,
I faithfully promise to send along the Salamanca guide as soon as we return (have some additions to make to it), and I've thought of another dining opportunity for your Gredos stay:

Right in Navalonguilla, you have El Remanso de Gredos, a beautifully decorated ten room B&B, member of Rusticae. I thought that their dining room was just for guests only, but now having perused their pdf catalogue, it *appears* to be open to the general public, since it has 40 seats. Quite pretty. And meals are quite reasonably priced. Plus the place gets great reviews on Top Rural. I don't know if the dining room will be open during Xmas week, but if so, you have another lovely option for lunch or dinner right in your town!

www.elremansodegredos.com

Maribel is online now  
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