Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain: Pros and Cons

After living in Badajoz for two years, teaching over 250 students, and residing in two distinct zones, I wanted to share the good and the bad regarding life here in the biggest city in Extremadura, Badajoz Capital.

1. The GOOD: It’s a decently well-connected city

Badajoz being a city has various options for travelling outside of the city. It has an airport close by, but it is quite small and I’ve never traveled out of it so I can’t speak to that. Nonetheless, there’s Lisbon and Seville at two hours for easy international and long-distant national flights. Also, I can’t stress enough the awesomeness, the affordability, and the convenience of BlaBlaCar.

The BAD: Visiting other Pueblos in the region

If you want to go to a small city in the North of Caceres, or for example, to visit the lovely national park Monfrague, you generally must know someone who has a vehicle, rent a car, or, if you’re lucky, locate a BlaBlaCar that happens to be going there. (BlaBlaCar is generally more reliable between larger cities).

2. The GOOD: The food

Living in the breadbasket of Spain, next door to Portugal, you’ve got a lot of amazing authentic dishes at your fingertips. Here, you have easy access to delicious fish, delicious cherries from the beautiful La Valle del Jerte, and a surplus of local wines (like Habla de la Tierra for an aromatic fruity red wine, or Orgullo for a sweet white wine), and olives. Above all, you have access to the best Iberian Ham in the entire peninsula, AND for decent prices. You can buy a quality Pata Negra for about 80 euro. When you first arrive to Spain, the food takes some getting used to. It may seem bland, but overtime you’ll come to appreciate the subtle natural flavors enhanced by simple dressings like salt, vinegar, and olive oil.

The BAD: Little Variety

Being in a relatively untouched part of Spain, you get authentic culture and food, but you’re not going to find a five start sushi place like you will in Madrid or Barcelona. In Badajoz, there’s a Dominoes, a Burger King, two Mcdonalds, some various American Food places (overpriced and terrible quality), more than a few Chinese restaurants, and a few good Italian places (there’s one located by Puerta Palmas I highly recommend…excellent Pizza), oh and there’s a Sushi place that I rarely see people enter. There is some variety, but it’s not like what you’ll find in a big city, or in an american city. Personally, I don’t consider this bad, but some of you might.

3. The GOOD: It’s a small city

Badajoz is a city. You can go shopping in the center along Calle Menacho or in the shopping center El Faro, and there you can fill all of your clothing and electronic needs. It’s big enough to feel like you’re not quite in a pueblo but small enough so that you can walk nearly anywhere. Also, being a relatively small city in Extremdura, prices are cheap from housing to food. You can find a decent room in a nice flat for 125 euro a month, easy. And you can go out for tapas with a group of three people and spend 6 euro.

The BAD: It’s a small city

Badajoz is small. There are a lot of nooks and crannies to explore in the beginning, but it can become routine and old by the end of the year. You’ve gotta check out different areas to keep it interesting. Also, because it’s small, there’s a huge void of culture and music. There are some gems, like the COC (sometimes), or Mercantil sometimes has some good live music on. Overall though, it’s a city for suitcase students studying business and science and families. Speaking of families, everyone is everyone’s cousin. Not literally, but almost… Everyone knows everyone somehow, so in this sense, it’s just a big pueblo.

4. The GOOD: Spanish everywhere!

Unlike a more metropolitan city, like Seville, Madrid, or Barcelona it’s rare you’ll encounter someone who speaks enough English to be able to engage you purely in English, which is frustrating if you’re trying to learn Spanish. Here, there is no other dialect, they speak Castellano puro y duro.

The BAD: Their accent

At first, the accent in Badajoz makes you wonder if you have ever studied Spanish in your life. Between the “Achos” and “Tias” you’ll eventually learn that people are not inventing new words like CENAO…what they mean is CENADO. It takes time to adjust your ears in any part of Spain, and Badajoz is slightly better than the southern dialect, but like everyone here, it’s a close cousin.

Have you lived in Badajoz? What would you add or subtract from this list?

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