At the end of March, a group of us of mixed nationalities, set off from Nerja to Leon, Zamora and Toro.
We travelled by coach to Málaga then by AVE train to Madrid, which is fast and comfortable. In Madrid, we made the rest of the journey by coach. We checked into the NH Hotel in the Plaza Mayor, Leon, which is a great location. After settling in we boarded the bus again, for the short journey to the Parador (Hostal de San Marcos), which is an amazing building, steeped in history with a wonderful restaurant that offers beautifully prepared traditional cuisine. We had a welcome glass of cava in the Sala Capitular before enjoying our dinner in the stunning dining room, after which, we were taken back to our hotel.
After breakfast, our guide collected us for a walking tour of the City, starting with the Cathedral. There are so many features which are notable, but, the stained glass is wonderful! (In fact, a few people said it gave them goose bumps). We then sauntered through the pretty streets to the Museum of San Isidoro with its beautifully jewelled Chalice, (now thought by historians to be the chalice from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper) and stunning painted ceiling. En route, some of us sampled delicious hot chocolate and churros, others who were more restrained had coffee! From there, we saw the Gaudi House, the Roman city walls and other places of interest, pointed out to us by our guide. We then had lunch at Restaurant Zuaga, which is in a beautiful building. Later, we went by coach for our guided visit of the Parador. It is difficult to know where to start – the exterior of the building is quite stunning and makes an impressive statement for all. In the large Plaza in front, is a bronze statue of a Pilgrim. We were shown many rooms inside the Parador with explanations, including the capitular, where we had enjoyed our cava the previous evening and also the small interior chapel. It is a most wonderful building and there is a lot to take in! Our coach took us back to the hotel and then it was all action stations again. Due to the excellent location of our hotel, there were many places nearby to sample local wine and tapas.
The next day we went by coach to the city of Zamora, on the River Duero. We were met by our guide for a walking tour of the sights, including the castle, tapestries, city walls and a couple of the 23 churches! and the XVI C Palace which is now a Parador. In the Plaza in front of the Parador, is a network of trees, which have been grown to provide a canopy of shade. We also saw many storks which nest all around the city, sometimes in the most precarious of places. We had lunch in the wonderful Capricho de Meneses, which opened just for us. This restaurant was recommended to me and did not disappoint – we all agreed that it was a real gastronomic delight!
The following morning, we boarded the coach once more. Goodbye Leon and hello Toro!
Toro is also on the River Duero and has really made a name for itself for red wine – it now boasts 61 Bodegas, most of which are out of town. Our first visit was to the magnificent Collegiata with its amazing, colourful, carved doorway. This visit too, was arranged especially, as it was closed to the public for refurbishment. However, continued phone calls to Father Roberto succeeded and we were granted access and well worth it too! We then sauntered along the pretty main street, and stopped for coffee. Next we visited a Bodega for wine tasting and then on to our restaurant for lunch. We had some lovely local dishes and wine and then boarded our coach to return to Madrid and our train to Malaga. The local Nerja coach was waiting for us and we returned safely, but tired!