Last night I had to sit at Barnes & Noble for two hours to supervise my Girl Scout troopers, who were wrapping holiday gifts for donations. It’s a little fundraiser we do every year. I’ll admit, there are a lot worse places to have to sit around for two hours. I just grabbed myself a pile of travel books on Spain and Portugal, sat in a warm corner with my reading glasses on, and the hours were gone before I knew it!
I gleaned a lot of cool information about Spain in that time period. Since I’ve only been to the colorful country once, my knowledge is somewhat bush-league on all things Iberian. For example, I can’t believe I didn’t know about paradors! Highly recommended as the best lodging bargains in Spain, these government sponsored inns are usually in scenic and historic areas, and the buildings themselves are often castles, fortresses, convents, manor houses, or palaces! As a lover of novelty hotels and charming inns, I am thrilled with this discovery. There are a total of ninety-three paradors in Spain. There is one that is actually inside the Alhambra palace in Granada (it does happen to be the most expensive one, though).
I’m in love. I want to go. And—as if the beauty and reasonable prices were not enough—everything I read praised the parador restaurants and their gourmet food. Each Spanish parador offers traditional and local specialties supplemented by regional wines. Almost all of them serve a generous breakfast buffet (not, however, included in the overnight price).
If you’re into ecotourism, you can feel good knowing that the paradors were established by the Spanish government to use tourism to act as a guardian of the national and cultural heritage of Spain, and to assist regions with fewer resources. Restoration projects are undertaken with a commitment to environmental protection.
I never even opened any of the books I gathered at Barnes & Noble about Portugal, but we’ve got several more gift wrapping shifts to go before Christmas!