Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The magic of Jerte Valley

Let’s face it, Extremadura is not the most popular region in Spain. You probably haven’t even heard about it until now. Even its name sounds inhospitable (extrema: extreme, duro: hard). Wedged in between the beautiful country of Portugal and the well-known Spanish region of Castile and Leon it lies flat and covered with acorn trees for the black pigs as far as your eyes can see. There are only three big towns to have a coffee break in while crossing through.

It all changes though during spring when Jerte Valley in the North of the region becomes white from all the blooming cherry trees. It is a sight that once you see you will never forget. Thousands upon thousands of trees line both sides of the trees, all of them full of blossoming flowers. The sight would lift anybody’s spirit.

As it goes with nature you never can be sure when the flowers open exactly but it usually happens during the second half of March/first half of April. They are only in full bloom for about ten days so you have to make sure that you catch the magic of the thousands of tiny white flowers on time.

The flowering time is only the beginning of the fun in Jerte Valley as all these flowers will turn into cherries soon. And not just any kind of cherries. The ones they cultivate here are the famous Picota type. It is special as unlike the ‘normal’ cherries which are harvested 30 days after flowering, this special breed stays on the trees for almost a month longer. It means it gets more sunshine making the fruit even sweeter and juicier. They are harvested by hand which might be also an interesting time to visit the valley. Curiously, they harvest only the fruit meaning that the stem stays on the tree! Just imagine a tree with all the stems sticking out of the branches! Must be quite a funny sight.

The habitants of the valley know exactly the value of the treasure they have in their hands. To make sure that the tourists get the best they can offer they organise many events to make your stay enjoyable, for example the Cherry Blossom Fiesta, which we also attended. Apart from stopping with your car on any random spot in the valley to pose for photos amongst the white branches it included many other activities as well, such as guided walks, cycling tours, tasting sessions of the local products (yes, please!), paragliding over the valley and many more!

Stick around to read more about our adventures in this amazing place. 

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