Staying in a castle is pretty cool.
That may sound obvious, but to be honest, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to stay in a castle.
The other night, while cycling Andalucia with ExperiencePlus! tours, we stayed in a Castle.
We were told the night before that we’d be staying at a Parador in Jaen, and I wasn’t aware of what was a Parador. They then told us that it was a restored castle run by the government of Spain.
That got me excited.
The name of the castle we were staying at was Castillo de Santa Catalina, and it was originally an 8th century Moorish fortress, which was then converted in the 13th century into a castle after the conquest of the city by King Ferdinand III.
In 1968 the Spanish government took control of the castle, and started to restore it in order to turn it into a hotel. These state run hotels are called ‘Paradores’ in Spain.
The entire experience was kind of surreal.
There were suits of armour, gigantic family crests, ancient brickwork, and stunning views.
While walking around the castle I could imagine the life of a nobleman hundreds of years ago. His servants lighting the fire, serving him dinner, and making sure his life of nobility was as easy as possible.
To be honest, I have kind of felt like nobility during the entirety of my cycling trip through Spain; I guess the stay in the castle was the crown jewel. (Can I embed a jewel in my cycling helmet?)
Everything from an olive oil and sherry tasting put on by our fantastic guides Juan and Joan on the balcony, to the multi-course (I lost count) dinner in the grand ballroom was fit for royalty.
When you travel to Spain, you should really look for a Parador to stay in. Staying in a castle is not something you will soon forget. And, in the 21st century you don’t even need to behead anyone in order to do so!