Travelling to Castilla y Leon, etc.?
DOs and DON'Ts
On September 2008 I went to Castilla y Leon and other provinces of Spain (see map) with my wife. We don't like arranged travels and we
prefer to travel on our own, because we think is the only way you can get in touch with
the real country and its people. This way of travelling is harder and more expensive than
others, but also more pleasant, relaxing and, that's the best, gives you a different point
of view on the culture and way of life.
After my experience here you have my advice if you
plan to travel on your own to these areas. You have to understand that
this is MY PERSONAL POINT OF VIEW and that it is not my intention to
criticize the people or culture of any of the mentioned places. You also must take into
account that these observations are from year 2008. Things might have
changed (either in the right or in the wrong way) since then. You must
also bear in mind that this is not a travel guide, but just the description
of my own journey and my own impressions. If you don't agree with
some of the opinions below just write your own WEB page with you own opinions,
but don't bother me.
At the time of this writing it's been over two years since that trip, so
this time I will not give too many details, simply because I do not remember
them. Apart from visiting Avila, Salamanca and Segovia (belonging to the
autonomous community of Castilla y Le?), we were also a few days in the
provinces of Teruel and Zaragoza. Below is a rough description of the trip
and my opinion about the sites we visited.
From Mallorca we went with the ferry to Valencia. On arrival in this
port early in the morning we begin route to Madrid and thence to Salamanca,
where we arrived in the mid-afternoon, just in time to leave our luggage at
the Parador de Turismo de Salamanca
and got closer to the center for dinner in the Plaza Mayor, which is pretty
lit up at night.
The city of Salamanca
is lovely and stroll through its streets, breathing the student
atmosphere, is a joy. i do not go into
details of the sites to see (there are so many ....) but just say that this
city itself is worth the trip.
One day we made an excursion to Las Arribes del Duero ,
which is the western part of the province, where the Douro River is
bordering Portugal. I don't know whether it was because of the season or
because another reason, but this area didn't specially attract my attention,
in spite of the fame it has.
Another day we went south of the province, to visit the village of La
Alberca, which we had been recommended. La Alberca
is a town that has preserved the traditional character of its buildings and
when visiting it you understand that reason why it is one of the main
attractions of Salamanca. It is situated in the beautiful Sierra de
with its impressive Roca de Francia (Rock of France) and near the
valley of Las Batuecas ,
so we wished we had had more time for the visit than a single day.
Then we left Salamanca, making a brief stop in the city of
whose wall and old town are absolutely fantastic. There we ate at the
restaurant Do? Guiomar ,
excellent though not cheap, and continued towards the city of Segovia.
In Segovia we stayed at the Parador Nacional de Turismo de
which has a wonderful view of the city, but at the time of our stay it
needed an urgent reform, both the rooms and common areas.
The city of Segovia
is another place well worth the trip. The aqueduct is shocking, the Alcazar
is like something out of a fairy tale (in fact was taken as a model by Walt
Disney for his castle), the Cathedral dominating everything and its steep
streets make you taste the history (and good food, why not to say it) . I
certify that pork roasted at the Segovian style in the restaurant Duque
One day we did a tour of the nearby towns of Pedraza
and Sepulveda ,
so pretty in its preservation as for the great gastronomic offer is based on
Another day we came to La Granja de San Ildefonso ,
with its beautiful palace and royal gardens. It's really a pity that the
springs are in operation more than a few days a year, what to me makes
it lose half of its beauty.
Instead of returning directly to Valencia, to make the trip a
little longer, we headed towards Soria, through the natural setting
of the Lobos River canyon
where we ate at the Bar Restaurante Ca?n del rio Lobos
(family atmosphere, large portions of good food and affordable price) and
without stopping in Soria we went on to Calatayud ,
in the province of Zaragoza, where we stayed at the hotel Calatayud ,
near the Monasterio de Piedra that I had wanted to visit for years.
The visit to the Monasterio de Piedra ,
which is worth spending a full day, fully met my expectations, not so much
by the monastery itself but mainly by the natural park which surrounds it
and that is an absolute marvel, with its forests, waterfalls, caves, lakes,
etc. To complete the visit they offer an exhibition of birds of pray quite
As we still had one more day left we also did an excursion to the
village of Utrillas
(Teruel), where my wife lived when child as her father was the village
teacher. Then, through the Gallocanta lake ,
which was very dry at that time, we headed to the beautiful village of
where despite the bad weather we could go a few hours for its steep
pedestrian streets, enjoying its well-preserved traditional architecture.
The cities of Salamanca, Avila and Segovia are really worth, both
to admire their well preserved historical centers and to gladden the palate
with its wide range of cuisine, especially its various roasts and steaks.
The landscape of the region in general is fairly arid, with vast
plains of monoculture that can lead to boredom, but with some precious areas
as the Sierra de Francia, Las Batuecas and Las Arribes (in Salamanca) which
contrast with the dominant landscape.
There are many villages well preserved and painstakingly
restored, giving an idea of the sober life that should be lived in these
places, not so long ago.
The traditional food dishes are mainly based on "strong"
derivates of pork and lamb and pork roasts (Do not forget the stomach
Regarding drinks, taking into account that the Ribera del Duero
produces some of the greatest wines of Spain, there is not much more to say.
There is nothing better to accompany a roast than a great glass of red wine
from the region.
And outside the scope of Castile and Leon, if you love nature and
enjoy the natural beauty, you must visit the Monasterio de Piedra at least
once in your life
Click on the links of the map below to see some
Photos and information of the area in my photo album.