This week for my Expat Files series, I thought we’d take a jaunt down to Extremadura. Never heard of this region in Spain? Don’t worry, most people haven’t. Southwest of Madrid and squashed between Portugal and Andalusia, it’s easy to miss on just about any trip to Spain.
Extremadura also happens to be one of the three regions in Spain I am missing on my list, and in spite of being so unknown, there is plenty to do and see. Luckily, Will Peach, a guy who needs no introduction, has lived there and is always willing to share. Check out his entertaining guide to this forgotten region of Spain.
1. Describe Spain in 3 words
Casual. Intriguing. Ryanair.
2. What’s your favorite food in Extremadura? Where’s the best place to find it?
3. What do you think is the most beautiful spot in Extremadura? Where’s the best view?
Extremadura is lucky to be home to so many intriguing little places. I’d have to say my favourite view in the whole region is probably the one you get walking below the Roman aqueduct in Merida. Looking up at that thing, which still looks pretty immaculate, makes you want to whip off your jeans and whack on a toga and indulge in some bisexual loving Julius Caesar style. In fact there are plenty of spots like that in Merida. Walk into the centre of the city and you’ll spot the Diana temple and the Roman Ampitheatre, which pretty much both making you want to go and do similar things too.Also worth a mention is the view of Cáceres and the surrounding region from atop of Virgin Mountain. The walk up there isn’t as strenuous as it sounds (takes about 25 minutes) and once you get up the top you’ve got sweeping views of the big dustbowl that was best known as the homeland of Spanish conquistadors like the Cortez brothers. Not hard to see why they left when you get to the top! Not a drop of gold or a Mayan princess in sight
4. How did you end up there? What made you decide to move to Spain? Why did you chose Extremadura (of all places)?
Ending up in Extremadura? Yeah, I ask myself that a lot. I guess the short answer is I didn’t really think about it. Or rather I thought that somewhere like it would help me learn Spanish faster by being completely isolating and driving me to the point of despair after giving up London and my day job. Then I grew to like the place and it’s quirky charm.
I don’t know. I guess Extremadura sounded quite hipster. It’s not like I was going down the de facto route of being a bell-end in Barcelona or some moron in Madrid. No, nobody really knows much about Extremadura. Not even the people born there. I thought that might give me some street cred among hot Spanish girls I’d meet while hotfooting it around hostels etc. Needless to say, they weren’t interested in a skinny white guiri (foreigner) like me. Not even with “I’ve lived in Extremadura” rolled up my sleeve.
5. Name one thing to do or see in Extremadura that is not in any guidebook
Extremadura usually has about one or two pages in any Spanish guidebook anyway so this one isn’t that hard. I’d say the wacky Vostell museum (the old mill farm that belonged to German conceptual artist Wolfgang Vostell) is pretty memorable. You can drive to it about half an hour out of Caceres. When you get there it’s all car pianos and weird sculptures that make you dribble a little in wonderment. Check out this video for the type of weird shit I mean:
6. Name one thing you don’t like about Extremadura
7. Name one funny cultural mishap, misunderstanding or downright ridiculous moment that’s happened to you in Spain
Innocently walking into Caceres’ only “puti club” after being duped by a rather cruel friend into thinking he actually lived there. The hookers inside didn’t seem that enthused to see me anyway, much like my friend whose real apartment I eventually tracked down half an hour later. No, I didn’t stay for the service either. I spent the next 25 minutes wrestling with my Victorian sex principles and accepting what I’d actually just seen.
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