Extremadura is an unspoilt part of the country made up of lush forests and majestic mountains, far removed from Spain’s crowded Costas both in terms of distance and character. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions of Spain, roughly the size of Belgium, and its distance from the coast has kept mass tourism at bay and relatively few visitors, either from Spain or elsewhere, venture to this western region of the Iberian Peninsula, sandwiched between the mountains of Portugal and the wide central plains of La Mancha.
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So far this week everything had gone mostly to plan and the itinerary that I planned meticulously beforehand had worked well so something just had to go wrong and today it went spectacularly wrong. On the final full day of the holiday it was our intention to take the train to the capital, Madrid, so we set our alarm clock for a six o’ clock for an early morning start.
I had a disturbed nights sleep full of wild dreams because I was still feeling a bit unusual and I hadn’t slept well now since the delightful room in Belmonte but we woke to another beautiful clear morning and a sunny Plaza Mayor that had been scrupilously swept and washed in the early hours of the morning. After two cups of tea it was time to go to breakfast and as I selected clothes I realised that I had left my favourite blue linen holiday shirt in the hotel wardrobe in Ávila and as it wasn’t practical to go back for it this was a bad start to the day.
The weather was so settled that I practically stopped carrying out the early morning check because it was so reliable and this morning we just went down to breakfast without giving it a second thought. The breakfast room was really special and so was the food. It was laid out on the tables and the choice was overwhelming; hot food, cold food, a selection of bread and fruit juices and local specialities as well.