A good time in Badajoz
This trip in Autumn 2013 was my first time in Extremadura and I was very excited to be visiting this culinarily famous region. I spent my first three nights in Badajoz and in that short time I got a very positive impression of the place and its friendly people, and I ate pretty well too.
Located on the border with Portugal, the city has been fought over on several occasions by the two countries. Nowadays it’s a very peaceful town, and although Spanish in name, many of the inhabitants have Portuguese relatives or speak the language.
I stayed at the bright, modern and comfortable Hotel Badajoz Center which was well located for the bus station and not too far from the old town.
The centre of the old town is Plaza de España which has a few nice old buildings located around the Gothic cathedral.
The front entrance is quite nice too. Apparently the windows are quite unusual but it was closed when I went so I can’ t comment on the interior. The organ looks amazing though in these pictures.
Remember you can click on any of these photos for a better view.
It was the first time I’d heard the sound the storks make with their beaks when they communicate with each other, kind of like the hollow sound of two coconut shells imitating horses hooves by rapidly clopping together. There are lots of better photos of them here.
My favourite place in the old town is the pretty Plaza Alta with its long porticos and brightly patterned walls. Again, please click on the photo to see it better.
Despite being recently renovated it still retains an atmosphere of medieval times when it hosted markets and bullfights. There are a couple of bars at one end where you can sit and watch the tourists go by.
There’s a couple of museums in here, and you can walk along the walls and get some good views of the town. More info about its history here.
Extremaduran cuisine has a very good rep, so I was really looking forward to eating out here. I didn’t find get any info about the restaurant scene from my usual sources, except for the 2011 edition of La Seleccion del Gourmet which lists the first two places mentioned below.
El Sigar (Advanced B+), 12 Avenida Luis Movilla, www.elsigar.es
This bright, modern, fairly posh place is about a 15 minute walk from the hotel, in the opposite direction from the old town. You can stand in the rowdy tapas bar or dine in the quieter restaurant as I did. The decor is bright and modern in both.
I had the set menu for €33 which was fine (B+) and very good value, about £3.70 for each of the seven plates which were:
Interestingly he considers Luis Felipe, my favourite and the most expensive Spanish brandy, to be a sweet wine rather than a true cognac, which when I retasted it, does seem to be true.
It was here that I also got chatting with Macarena (an English teacher) and Javi who, although they didn’ t know me from Adam, invited me to come out with them on their first date! Now that’s friendliness for you.
They took me to a Cuban ‘local’ in the old town (Bar Malecon at 5 Calle San Blas) which is reputed for its Mojitos. As it was a lock-in I soon made more acquaintances, including friendly, English-speaking Ana who introduced me to her pals. I had a great time and I was one of the last ones to leave! Thanks for being so welcoming guys; I have such a good impression of the local people now.
The next day, Sunday, wasn’ t so good though as I awoke with the biggest hangover in living memory! I had intended to eat a big Sunday lunch at Restaurante Marchivirito but spent the whole day in the hotel recovering instead. I even ate in the hotel restaurant in the evening which is very unlike me, and not an experience I’d recommend foodwise, at least not on a Sunday.
The next day, with my spirits restored, I faced the eternal Spanish problem of finding somewhere open on a Monday evening and had to resort to asking the receptionist for help (usually a bad idea). He sent me to this place which he said has a good rep locally:
Restaurante Galaxia (High Intermediate B), 6 Avenida Villanueva, Tel. 924 258 211
You can’t come to Extremadura and not have the famous Jamon Iberico. It was of course very good (B+).
So a good time was had! Even if I didn’t get to do (eat) as much as I’d have liked to, I still really enjoyed myself. Here are links to my Google map with the places mentioned above and also the local tourism website.