In April, Semana Santa Holy week or Spring Break had begun and I was itching to get out of Badajoz whether far or close. This happens to me about every two weeks. Fortunately, a pro of Badajoz is that its surroundings are riddled with perfect day trips to escape the drab daily routine and the lackluster city landscape.
About 47km, 35 miles, to the north of Badajoz is the town of Albuquerque. With a population of around 5,000, its American predecessor is about 300 times the size and much more modern. Visiting the city was like stepping back into 15th century Spain (Another thing I’m going to miss). Nestled up on top of a peak strategically, it overlooks all of the areas that surround it. On the very top of the peak is El Castillo de Luna which reigns from the 10th century and was a military stronghold during the centuries of battles between the Spanish and the Portuguese. Today it serves as a wonderful tourist attraction.
Maria and I arrived in the city just in time for lunch. We had a beer in the central plaza of the city, Plaza España, which was about the size of 15 parking spaces and contained four bars, a bank, and a dentists office. We wanted to have a “Menu” which is a starter, a main course, bread, a drink, a dessert, and coffee all included in one price. We learned that they don’t do Menus in the center, so the waitress directed us to the “outskirts” of the city. She explained we’d have to take the main street all the way out of town, take a left then we’d find a little park, and it’d be on our right. Our minds immediately went to images of a little building in the midst of a field, goats roaming around the grass, at least 4km away or more. We then asked if we needed the car, how long of a walk? She lifts her hands to her head in dramatic Spanish fashion, exhales and says, “I don’t know. At the very least 10-15 minutes.” We almost started laughing but we held it in.
We began walking and then decided to be authentic to the way of life in the pueblo and hopped in the car and ended up driving about thirty seconds to our destination. We’re not ashamed. We entered into a restaurant with four separate brick igloo arches each with two tables set within each arch. It was old world cozy. The service was extremely slow, but in my experience that’s something you begin to expect in Spain, even more so in a pueblo.
We ordered two Menus, and after the massive first plate, we quickly realized we made a mistake. We could have
ordered one and still had a surplus of food. We’ve learned this lesson multiple times yet we had continued making the same mistake until recently.
After lunch, full and tired, we decided to wonder up to the castle through the old winding streets of the antique walled city. We jumped a fence that led to the castle and by pure luck we were the last to enter for a 5 o’clock free guided tour– the last of the day! The tour was cool. We learned what the rooms were used for and what not. I don’t remember much besides the one room at the top of tower with curved walls designed so that if you whisper in one end of the room it can still be heard at the other end. It was pretty neat.
If you live in Extremadura, I recommend taking a day trip to Albuquerque for an authentic and charming piece of Spanish history. Keep in mind tour times because you don’t want to miss seeing inside one of Spain’s oldest castles.