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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Disappointment At Parador de Tortosa

It turns out that there are Paradors and Paradors. Not all Paradors provide the same standard of experience. At the Parador de Alarcón, our bedroom was actually within the ancient castle building itself. It had real castle windows.

The rooms at the Parador de Tortosa are actually in a new building constructed next to the old castle. You would agree that it is a quite different experience. Seriously, there is no way to imagine oneself a Rapunzel preparing to let down her hair if you stay on a 2nd floor in a new building with the layout of a motel. Of course, the thing is made to look like a period castle (carvings, huge wooden doors) but it is still very much a 2 storey motel like thing.

Towels, shampoo and toilet paper were all emblazoned with the Parador insignia but they looked out of place amongst the worn furnishings. Both Parador de Alarcón and Parador de Tortosa were rated 4 stars but Parador de Tortosa should be downgraded to 3 stars (or even 2).

Further, Parador de Tortosa was smack in the middle of a rather large town. The experience was really not quite the same as looking out of the windows to see hills, valleys and fields. Look out the window at Parador de Tortosa and you see a carpark.

No fun.

The worst thing was the smell! The lift lobby smelled of sewage pipe overlaid with air freshener. I could distinctly separate the 2 smells in the same space. The corridors leading to the rooms smelled of paint.

This said, it still gave us a frisson to be staying in a place that once belonged to the Knights Templar, the famous warrior knights whose mission was to escort pilgrims safely to the Holy Land. They ended up running Europe's first bank. Pilgrims leaving for the Holy Land would entrust all their valuables to the Knights Templar. As they travelled from town to town, they only needed to go to the local Knights Templar facility to draw out money to spend as they travelled along. The Templars would record the withdrawals and when the pilgrims got home, they could retrieve the balance of their wealth.

The Husband was especially tickled by the fact that the castle once belonged to not just any Knights Templar, they belonged to the Knights Templar of the King of Aragon. This was very confusing because The Husband was thinking of Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings and the Knights Templar from The Da Vinci Code.

Really, this shows the power of the human imagination to generate wealth. These famous movies live in our imaginations and those fortunate enough to own a physical embodiment of these figments of collective imagination sit on goldmines. Until The Hobbit came along and built their movie set on the farmland belonging to the Alexander family, the Alexander brothers were sheep farmers. Now, they are millionaires. Think of all the money people make from selling blue Elsa costumes to little girls!

This was our bedroom window in the Castle of Alarcón. See the 3 feet thick castle walls framing the window. It shows that the rooms are part of the ancient castle.

The rooms at the Parador de Tortosa were in a separately constructed new building. Looks like a motel, right?

The ancient castle structure held meeting rooms and dining halls.

A romantic dining corner in the Dining Room at Parador de Tortosa.

The Dining Room at Parador de Tortosa.

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