It was the end of summer, and it was time to head back to Seville from our three-month break in Oviedo, Spain. As we’re wont to do during drives, we decided to stop for a few days somewhere between the two cities.
So, looking at maps, and – more importantly – trying to find dog-friendly establishments in Spain, we landed in the Valle del Jerte region of Extremadura.
For your geographic consumption…
Louis did his best to navigate, but he’s unfortunately not very vocal or involved when I need some help with directions. He just sort of…stares…
Or he finds the one patch of sun and ignores us completely.
Which is probably why the GPS ends up erroneously taking us via the scenic route. Which sometimes includes dirt roads, but almost always includes ever-narrowing “highways” that lead us to interesting places. Never mind the roads that would have taken us directly where we wanted to go in the first place.
The GPS’s adventurous side usually turns out okay, though, and we get to see some interesting things we otherwise would have missed. Speaking of missed, I do not have any pictures of the crazy landscape that we saw after this road continued to narrow and turn into what many would barely consider a paved route. Ah well!
We did finally make it, all in one piece. The shocks on our car were probably thankful that we escaped intact.
So yeah, to stay in the area, we found a hospedería in the village of Jerte. These are like paradors, but on a regional scale. And if you don’t know what a parador is, it’s a hotel owned and operated by the Spanish government.
They’re usually built in old castles or other historic buildings in various cities big and small. We even have friends who did a whole tour of Spain, staying only in paradors.
But, a lot of the paradors in Spain don’t allow pets. Alas, the hospedería in Valle del Jerte did allow pets. And it was quite nice. So, we booked it for a few days of R&R in the middle of our drive back down south.
Oh right: So, a hospedería is more of a regional parador. They’re operated by the provinces instead of the national government. They’re therefore smaller and cozier.
This generally means they’re not as fancy as paradors either, but the Hospedería Valle del Jerte was recently redone, with a nice blend of modern design and historic architecture.
Jerte is located in the aforementioned Valle del Jerte, a strip of valley that cuts northeast to southwest through the mountains in the Cácares province of Extremadura.
Naturally, a river runs through it, which provides a little small-town getaway in a scenic location for people like us, but mostly for Spanish tourists and some foreigners who fancy walking and sweating through the woods and hills like crazy people.
The main draw here – besides the quiet – is hiking and horseback riding in the Garganta de los Infiernos natural preserve. We’re not really into either of those activities, although Ang certainly likes being into the idea of the latter.
We do like the mountains and seeing them, but we’re more of the modus operandi of driving through the mountains than hiking through them as if cars weren’t invented. So, it really wasn’t a tourist destination for us in the traditional sense.
Anyway, we booked into this nice establishment with its amiable staff and comfortable, one-bedroom suite reserved for us. Reserved for us, by us, that is. It’s not like the King and Queen of Jets Like Taxis were descending upon the valley and the local nobility had to reserve some sort of palatial accommodation for us. It was more like, we went online and booked it ourselves.
In the afternoon after check-in, we perused the little village and went down to the river, where there were plenty of people taking advantage of the hot weather and cool mountain water.
I love how many villages have things like this, but you’d never, ever know it if you didn’t take the even smaller road into town from the small highway that passes by the town itself.
We found a chiringuito – a little bar next to the swimming hole at the river – and sat for a while, drinking cervecitas and enjoying the heat after the most definitely too-cool-weather summer of Asturias.
After relaxing for an hour or so, we lazily strolled a different way through town and headed back to the hotel to rest some more and get a bit of work done.
Our first evening there, we reserved a table at the dining room in the hotel and dined there. The presentation and decor itself was of the four-star variety, but I personally didn’t find the cuisine to be up to snuff.
The staff was very friendly – minus one sourpuss that kept doing her best to ignore us – and we had a nice time eating and observing, and wondering why on earth they didn’t have an outdoor terrace for a little alfresco eating experience. I hate when that happens. Alas, the world doesn’t always listen to my ideas!
The breakfast spread, on the other hand…
As we weren’t about to put on the hiking boots we don’t own, or head into the mountains we weren’t going to hike through, we hopped in the car and drove the winding roads up to a lookout point that gave great views of the mountains and the villages that have sat between them for centuries.
We also said hi to some cows. Hi, cows!
And we saw an interesting array of wildlife, all in one place! Neatly numbered, to boot!
Ha! Just kidding.
This entire area is protected, and therefore doesn’t have any mountain roads that the public can drive on. That’s a great thing for the preservation of the area, of course. Just not good for weakling non-hikers like us.
Some outfits around the area do offer off-road tours, but that’s about it if you want to see more of the area off the main roads. I guess that’s what we get for not embracing the earth and punishing our bodies and souls by walking up mountains. What a bunch of weak lazies! Our fault, no doubt about that.
After a day of roaming around, working a bit, and hanging out, we headed to a local restaurant to dig into some of that delicious Spanish cuisine.
I’m ridiculous for not remembering the name of this place. But, if you find yourself on the main road through Jerte, there’s a local place on the north side of the street with a big, covered patio and red plastic chairs. That’s the one. (Update: It’s called La Cabaña.)
Go there and order some secreto de cerdo ibérico. Then, feel free send us a thank you note for the recommendation after you’ve digested your food and found that you can finally get up from your chair a few hours later.
While we didn’t go hiking, we did head out to one of the local entry points where one can hike for a few kilometers and see some gorgeous waterfalls. Which are not pictured here because…one can hike for a few kilometers to see them. Gosh, we are sad haha!
We did have a little constitutional around the area, though, and stopped for a drink and some empanadas at the entrance to the park. We thought we’d get three, maybe four, but they gave us a plate of, like, forty-six of them.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. A bit much, but they were super good. We also enjoyed chatting with the folks there and watching their kids semi-torment Louis with their curiosity and affection.
After spending most of our last day in Jerte being lazy – as was the plan for this stop in the first place – we then decided to have another walk and eventually land at another patio of another restaurant for dinner.
And lo and behold, there was a little feria going on. It was cute to see a fair in such a small town, as we’re used to this massive affairs that take place in Seville with hundreds of thousands of people all dressing up and going crazy for a week straight.
I’m not sure what this fair was for, but there were just a few tents, and live music from a guy that definitely wasn’t at his best. Or, he was at his best, but his best wasn’t really all that, um, best. Either way, he did better than we could!
So, we sat out under the stars for a few hours, watching the feria and eating some food. Good, relaxing times.
And that was that! The next morning, we got up, packed the car, and slowly made our way back down to Seville. If you’re looking for some gorgeous scenery and a quiet, peaceful time in the middle of Spain, we’d recommend a stop in Jerte.
And if you’re into hiking and all that, even better!
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Have you ever been to Valle del Jerte? If so, what’d you think? If not, what say ye? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!