la vida extremeña

the alleys of caceres's jewish quarter.

I’m starting to realize how much I like traveling alone. I don’t have to worry if I’m boring my travel companions. I can eat when and what I want. And if I get lost, I can wander at leisure until I eventually find my way back to a place I recognize. I think that’s the best part of traveling – turning up a street just because you like the look of the cobblestones, or ducking into a cafe solely based on the cute sign. A few weeks ago, I was sent to Extremadura for an interview and got the chance to do just that. I was headed to an isolated farm in the middle of nowhere and ended up spending the night in the small city of Caceres, which I had never heard of before I bought my bus ticket.

When I pulled into the city that Friday night, Caceres looked like any modern town in Spain – blockish apartment complexes, department stores, freeways. I was glad I would be leaving at 7 the next morning. But when I went hunting for a bocadillo at dinnertime, I found this.

the plaza mayor of caceres. a lovely place to stop for a coffee and people watch!

Turns out, Caceres’s medieval walled city is a UNESCO heritage site – just like Toledo. I immediately extended my stay a night so I could explore all day Sunday. All thanks to a lucky right turn as I stepped out the front door of my hotel.

To be honest, Caceres can be seen in a day. But i liked having time to turn up random streets as I felt like it. I didn’t even have a map – I had no idea what the important sights even were, let alone how to find them. And that was nice. So if you have a day or two, check out Caceres. Or any little town on your way to the next must-see city (I’m looking at you three, Madrid, Barcelona, and Granada!). You just might be surprised.

bougainvillea in the casco antiguo.

If you go…

Stay: Hotel los Naranjos. Clean and cheap, los Naranjos has a great staff. They’ll even be nice to you when you wake them out of a deep sleep at 5 am when you hit the doorbell accidentally on your way out. Not that I’ve done that. It’s located just outside the Casco Antiguo, and about a 5-10 minute bus ride from the main bus station.

Eat: At any of the little carnicerias lining the streets. You can order a sandwich made fresh with the best jamon iberico in the country and delicious sheep’s milk cheese for under 3 euros.

See: The whole old city. Climb the wall (free on Sundays!), walk through the cobbled streets, and stop when you feel like it. It’s worth it, I promise.

caceres seen through the arrow slits in the citadel walls.

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7 thoughts on “la vida extremeña

  1. brooksholly says:

    Thanks for your post on solitude and other unexpected discoveries to treasure.

  2. Sam George says:

    love it. your photos keep getting better, too!

  3. The photos in the post are great – I want to travel somewhere, and now!
    Your experience of traveling solo and wandering without a ‘guidebook’, so to speak, reminds me of a quote I recently included in one of my Inspiration posts: “The more side roads you stop to explore, the less likely that life will pass you by.” Robert Brault

    • Katy says:

      thank you! that quote is awesome – i’m on another solo side trip right now and i’m really finding that idea to be true. i feel like i get a much better view of the cities i visit when i can take the time to enjoy the “side roads!”

  4. Found you through your comment on our blog yesterday … A fellow Oregon girl! :) LOVE this blog … I think it’s absolutely awesome that you’re studying in Spain. I wish I would have studied abroad in college. Either way, posts like these make me want to take my hubby on a plane and travel in Europe! Cheers.

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