After breakfasting in León, we hopped in the rented VW Polo and motored down to Astorga, which is known for being the first town to produce chocolate after the Spanish conquistadors brought cocoa beans back to Spain from the New World. Andrew and I were thrilled to be outdoors, to see the sun and to stretch our legs to see the major sites. The weather had been dreary and rainy in Laredo for the past couple of weeks, so a healthy dose of Vitamin D was in order.
Astorga is home to an impressive cathedral and to an Episcopal Palace, which was designed by Antoní Gaudí. While in Astorga, we also taste tested the artisan chocolate for our readers, which we can report is well worth your euro.
Our next stop for the day was in Zamora, a gem city filled with Romanesque style churches. Literally every corner we turned in the old town, we were impressed by another beautifully restored building. Zamora is located on the Río Duero and is perfect for spending an hour or two strolling, enjoying the views of the sparkling river and the majestic architecture. Zamora also celebrates one of the most somber Semana Santas in Spain. This week’s festivities are so important in this particular town that they have an entire museum dedicated to the customs and traditions surrounding Holy Week.
These two statues are the Merlú and represent the way that Spanish revelers dress when they form parades during Semana Santa.
Overall, we really enjoyed both cities. As you head South on the Iberian peninsula, the air is drier, crisper and the temperature drops. Once finished in Zamora, we made our way to Ávila to visit a friend. It was definitely a refreshing and rejuvenating weekend.