Monday, September 12, 2011

Parador Monforte; Parador Verin; Parador Baiona Spain

Today I shall describe three very different paradors in the Galician countryside. The parador of Monforte sits atop the highest point of a small provincial town. It occupies two adjoining buildings, a monastery and a bishop's palace, both seventeenth century neoclassical structures. The prevailing atmosphere accords with the monastic origins of the place, bare stone blocks in the public rooms make for a feeling of austerity, almost crossing the line into the severe. For those seeking a lighter touch, there's an outdoor pool. The nearby cathedral city of Ourense is well worth a visit.

The parador of Verin, a newbuild in the style of a Galician country mansion, is located on a hilltop, facing an ancient castle which formerly guarded the frontier with Portugal. The rooms are comfortable, the views pleasant, there's an outdoor pool. For those afflicted with arthritis the town offers a spa whose waters promise relief. There is another, quite unexpected plus. A ways below the parador there is what at first glance appears to be a huge junkyard but is in effect an antique store with some of the best pieces of genuine old (sixteenth and seventeenth century) Spanish pottery I've seen anywhere interspersed among the dross. Another advantage of the parador is the price. In the off season you can get a double for sixty euros ($85) for the night.

The parador of Baiona, a newbuild, has a spectacular location atop a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic. The views of the long, indented shoreline are unsurpassable. There is a nice outdoor pool. Baiona is where the caravel Pinta made its landfall in 1493 to make the first report of the discovery of the new world. The parador's dining room serves a large assortment of fish and shellfish dishes purchased that day from the fishermen in the port. Baiona is a good place from which to visit Santiago if one doesn't want to incur the expense of a stay in the Reyes Catolicos.

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