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Paradore/town advice about Operesa, Plasencia, Merida, or Zafra

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Oct 11th, 2008, 04:57 AM
  #1
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Paradore/town advice about Operesa, Plasencia, Merida, or Zafra

We are planning a trip to Spain next September, and we are arranging for stays so far at the Toledo and the Segovia paradores.

We will probably have some further days to be able to stay at 2 or 3 other paradors on our way to Seville.

Can anyone make any suggestions concerning the paradores and towns located at Operesa, Plasencia, Merida and Zafra, all of which are well received on tripadviser, as well as in Karen Brown (which latter source is really not too helpful in assisting in my choice as she loves everything!).

Thanks for any assistance.
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Oct 11th, 2008, 05:22 AM
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I love to stay in town in both Segovia and Toledo--are you sure you want the Paradores in those locations, neither is very convenient.
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Oct 11th, 2008, 05:28 AM
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Bob - we want to have access to a pool and both paradores (actually, the one that we would choose for Segovia is La Granja - which is even further away) allow us to have a car.

We are planning 2 days in each town and therefore, hopefully, the short drives, although, less convenient, should not really impede our enjoyment

As an alternative, which hotels do you recommend in toledo and segovia - we would need air conditioning.

Thanks.
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Oct 11th, 2008, 05:30 AM
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Have you considered a stop in Caceres or Trujillo en route to Seville?

Also, the parador at Jarandilla is within a castle and is wonderful. I would have to look at a map to see how far it is off the main route from Madrid, but if convenient, you might wish to consider it.

We stayed at the Segovia parador and had no trouble parking our car just outside the historic district. Also had no trouble parking our car in a similar situation in Toledo. You can walk to town from the Toledo parador, but it is a bit of a hike. Friends of ours walked to town every day that they lodged there..


Here is my report which includes stays at the paradors in Caceres and Segovia; in Toledo we stayed at Hotel Cardinal:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34810840

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Oct 11th, 2008, 05:31 AM
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ps. Parador at Jarandilla has a lovely pool in a garden setting.
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Oct 11th, 2008, 05:41 AM
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Yes, the Hostal Cardenal in Toledo and Infanta Isabel in Segovia--great locations to walk all of the town.
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Oct 11th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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Can anyone else provide some recommendations or insight?

Thanks.
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Oct 11th, 2008, 07:15 AM
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H; We stayed in the Zafra Parador traveling from Madrid to Seville. Loved the parador. As a previous post said, Caceres is a great place to visit. It could be on the way to Zafra. Had the best 'lunch' ever in this town. Will visit Caceres again in April for an overnight. ENJOY Iris
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Oct 11th, 2008, 08:29 AM
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nevertooold,
I've been to all of the paradors that you've mentioned above.

Just a note about the pools-I'm not sure when the pools close in Sept, but if your trip falls late in the month, they may have closed by then-they're seasonal and unheated.

When we stay at the Parador (completely renovated) in Toledo, we take taxis back and forth, since the distance between the parador and the city center is 4 kilometers. As you know, the Parador sits high above the city, so a walk back would be quite the cardiovascular workout! We loved our room 14, which is the one with wrap around sit-out balcony with THE VIEW, the famous view of Toledo immortalized by El Greco.

Just a question about your route planning-

Are you planning Segovia/La Granja then Toledo or vice versa?

If you start in Segovia
and move to Toledo
(I'd include a stop in Avila to walk the walls), then down to Seville,
there are 2 possible routes-

1) through La Mancha (Almagro) and Córdoba, the most direct

2) over west to Oropesa then down through Extremadura

Your list indicates you've chosen the latter.

In that case, you'd want to choose between Jarandilla and Plasencia for your 1st stop after Oropesa.

While Jarandilla does have a pool, its location deep in La Vera valley means a detour back east. Very scenic country, yes, but I didn't find the parador quite as impressive as Plasencia's, where we were in awe of the gorgeous stone staircases and the vaulted, frescoed dining room. (We also encountered a business retreat in Jarandilla which occupied the lovely upstairs salons and took up the best rooms, which effected our overall impression).
We spent 3 nights in Jarandilla during the cherry blossom season to explore the picturesque medieval villages (Valverde, Villanueva, Garganta la Olla) and attend festivals, to visit Charles V's retreat in Yuste, to visit the Jewish quarter of Hervás, Coria, Alcántara (at Portuguese border), the "ghost town' of Gargantilla and Monfragüe park. Because we had such an ambitious touring program, we found the daily 55 km. backtracking east through the winding valley road, EX 203, from Plasencia to be tedious. We decided that we'd use Plasencia as our base for easier driving next time.

Your second logical choice would be Cáceres, Trujillo or Mérida.

We did both Trujillo (with pool) and Mérida, choosing Trujillo over Mérida because we were on the 5 night plan and Cáceres required a supplement, plus we wanted to spend a full day in Guadalupe, which is closer to Trujillo. If you prefer city to small town, choose Cáceres, although the standard rooms there are not quite as nice as Trujillo's. But the Old Quarter of Cáceres will captivate you-quite beautiful, highly atmospheric (I had stayed there before.)

Mérida's Parador impresses the least, simply because it has not changed one bit in years! Just like I remembered it from 1971.
Rooms are more basic, old Castilian furniture, un-renovated baths, generally a more provincial feel, but it served its purpose for us to explore the Roman sites in depth. And it gave me a chance to revisit the dusty birthplace of Cortés, the town of Medellín.

From there we moved on to Zafra, whose Parador does greatly impress, so that we could explore the sierra de Aracena towns of Fregenal de la Sierra and Jerez de los Caballeros plus Riotinto and the Iberian ham town of Jabugo.

Of all the Paradors listed above, we loved the Oropesa Parador the most. It makes my top 5 list (and I've visited most of them). Our stay, on a Sun. night after a major holiday, when we had the enormous, regal salons of this 12th c. castle/palace virtually to ourselves, was one of our most memorable, and our giant-sized room (largest in the palace) right above the entrance, made it even more so. This is truly an experience you won't want to miss! It also gave me the opportunity to indulge my ceramics collecting passion in Talavera de la Reina and Puente del Arzobispo and to pick up some beatifully embroidered pillow shams in the embroidery town of Lagartera.

You can't really go wrong on any of your choices. Again, Oropesa being the most regal (followed by Plasencia and Zafra), Mérida the most provincial.
Hope this helps you to decide.





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Oct 11th, 2008, 08:43 AM
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If you are not wedded to paradors, take a look at this this place piqued my interest. I would guess Maribel knows a good bit about the Hurdes region. I know that one of my current favorite olive oils is from that area! the hotel has a pool:




http://www.husa.es/en/fichaHotel.php?id=158


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Oct 11th, 2008, 09:19 AM
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Hi nevertooold and escrunchy,
I just looked at your other other question regarding a different itinerary, Madrid to Barcelona, so I see now that you're seeking lodging of character and charm and beautiful scenery.

I do know Las Hurdes but need to note that this area is quite remote and unexplored and for years poverty stricken (as immortalized in the Luis Buñuel film, "Land without Bread").

The Hospedería is located about an hr. or more northwest of Plasencia, just below one of my favorite areas of the Salamanca province, Las Batuecas and its totally charming "capital" of La Alberca de Salamanca.
The area of the Sierra de Béjar (Béjar being the closest small "city") and Las Hurdes has retained its very provincial feel with little to no foreign tourism, especially Las Hurdes, due to its tiny roads and considerable isolation.

That is a very off-the-beaten path destination that you might enjoy exploring for a couple of days, eks, but it would be a very low key trip of just wandering these very back roads and discovering little medieval hamlets.
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Oct 11th, 2008, 09:40 AM
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Mirabel -thanks so much for chiming in _ after reading some of your numerous comments, I am pleased to have your advice.

We havenow, for the time being (dependant on our points airflights being available when I try to book next wek) made reservations for the following :

Days 1 and 2 - La Granja - 5 nite card;
Days 3 and 4 - Toledo - golden age;
Days 5 and 6 - Plasencia - 5 nites card;
Day 7 - Zafra - 5 nite card

We chose 2 night stays over 1 night stays to allow us some relaxatuion and a better opportunity to appreciate the locations, and we chose Plasencia instead of Operesa as the room that we are likely to receive will not be the one that you had, and because the rooms on the parador site were indicated as being somewhat smaller than the normal parador style rooms.

Is this a mistake and should we reconsider 1 night at Operesa instead of the 2 nights at Plasencia, or will this lead to, as I fear, too much unecessary moving between towns which really are not that far apart?

Thanks.
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Oct 11th, 2008, 09:51 AM
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Gracias, Maribel! I just knew that you would have the scoop! the hotel does look nice..maybe for another time.
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Oct 11th, 2008, 09:56 AM
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nevertooold,
I would keep your plan. I'm personally not a fan of one-night stays and do them only when necessary, so I wouldn't break up the Plasencia stay. Perhaps you can stop in Oropesa for a coffee or lunch. Sounds fine to me.


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Oct 11th, 2008, 10:46 AM
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You will love the parador in La Granja and La Granja itself-what a beautiful place-known by Spaniards but not too many others! The gardens and fountains are breathtaking as are the viewa of the mountains.
You can easily leave your car in La Granja and take the local bus-1o minutes- into Segovia where parking can be a hassle.
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Oct 13th, 2008, 08:46 AM
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Mirabel - would you be able to outline your top 10 paradores?

I would greatly appreciate your views as you have indicated that you have been fortunate enough to have experienced most of them

Thanks again.
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Oct 13th, 2008, 09:46 AM
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Hi nevertooold,
I've experienced most of the Paradors on the mainland (and the one in Ceuta) but haven't seen the ones in the Canary Islands or the one in Melilla.
There are 93.

Here are my current top 10, in no particular order (super subjective):

Granada
Baiona
León
Cangas de Onís (Picos scenery)
Alarcón
Aiguablava (sea views)
Cuenca (gorge views)
Plasencia
Oropesa
Toledo

I would have included the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos in Santiago de Compostela, but one's enjoyment of that Parador depends on the quality of one's room, I think-the deluxe rooms are truly memorable. As a poor graduate student, I once endured 3 nights in a dreary pensión so that I could splurge the final night at this historic Parador, sharing one of the largest rooms with 2 friends. It was magical way back then.

Next 10:

Ronda (gorge views)
Zafra
Cáceres
Trujillo
Ubeda
Carmona (country views)
La Granja
Avila (my 1st)
Almagro
Zamora

In a couple of weeks we'll be staying at the newest one- Alcalá de Henares-very modern.



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Oct 15th, 2008, 06:02 AM
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Oropesa is one of the best Paradores - the building is spectacular, and so are the rooms, the view and the bar.

The town is charming and Oropesa makes a good base for exploring the country (Toledo, Avila etc.).

I would stay again in Oropesa and do a daytrip to Toledo rather than staying at the Parador of Toledo.
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Oct 15th, 2008, 08:31 AM
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nevertooold,
Regarding using the Oropesa Parador as a base to explore the capitals of Avila and Toledo, I would hesitate to do so because of the driving distance. Toledo is about an hr. and a half drive, and the drive to Avila would take a bit under two hours. We use Oropesa to explore the Sierra de Gredos, eastern side (Candeleda, Arenas de San Pedro) and the ceramics towns.

The rustic style (and purpose built) Toledo Parador has recently come out of a major renovation of all guest rooms. You can see the results on the photos at
www.parador.es

The public rooms haven't been changed, and yes, Oropesa's grand, regal 15th century castle/palace salons are far, far more impressive and *highly* atmospheric, as is the bar and lovely dining room, so try to stop here at least for coffee.

(But there's also the really lovely Dehesa de Pelabanegas, a country house hotel and deluxe restaurant whose chef was trained by Alain Ducasse in nearby Calera y Chozas, just off the A 5 at exit 135 that would make a delightful lunch stop but only between 2-3:30 pm and not on Mon.)

The views from the bedrooms in Toledo, however, I do find more mesmerizing (especially at sunrise/sunset) because the Parador looks directly down at the entire city of Toledo wrapped by the Tajo river. The same view from El Greco's Vista de Toledo. We've stayed both in room 14, the one with wrap-around sit out balcony and drop dead view, and in a couple of rooms in the pool wing, which have either sit out balconies or terraces (rm 76) directly facing the pool.

Have a great trip!
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Oct 16th, 2008, 07:43 PM
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We stayed at the parador in Oropesa with our 13 and 15 year old daughters and we loved it. The restaurant was also quite good. We spent the day in Toledo before we arrived at the parador, spent the second day enjoying the pool and the tour of the unrenovated portions of the castle and left the third day to explore Avila en route to Segovia. The drive from Oropesa to Avila was a beautiful drive through the mountains.

Have a wonderful trip!
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