We arrived at Parador Cardona after driving around Spain for hours in a tiny car. Needless to say, we were tired, grumpy, and ready to roam free from seatbelts. As my wife checked us into the beautiful castle that overlooks the town of Cardona from atop a huge hill, I decided to do a little more research on the hotel. I whipped out my iPad and began to research the historical importance of the Castle. I read that it is one of the most important medieval castles in Spain and that a major battle took place at the foot of the castle when Bourbon troops invade Catalonia. There were a lot of other interesting aspects of the castle: the Romanesque church, Church of San Vicenc, that stands on the castle grounds, the remains of an old jail – complete with a torture chamber, ghosts that haunted the castle, and…. Ghosts!
Maybe my wife and I had watched one too many episodes of Ghost Hunters, but I began to scan the internet for various accounts of ghosts that call the castle home. All of the reports seemed to center around room 712. There were stories of furniture being moved around at odd times of the night, lights flickering, knocks on the wall, people getting pushed and hair being pulled. In some of the stories, people in the castle encountered a man or woman wearing medieval clothes. The activity was so bothersome that they no longer allowed guests to sleep in the room. I was intrigued, as well as a little weirded out.
My wife walked out of the office and asked if I was ready to go our room. I told her about the haunting and she gave a laugh that suggested she was awaiting for me to enlighten her on something insane. And so I told her about the ghosts that inhabited the castle as she handed me the key card to our room. I don’t know if I was more nervous or excited when I looked down and saw our room number – “710!” We were going to be right next door to the haunted room!
We walked down the hall and I stopped by room 712. I probably lingered longer than appropriate, but I couldn’t help it. And yes, I did put my ear to the door. We stepped into our adjoining rooms, tossed our stuff on the beds, and let out a sigh of relief. As we explored our rooms and unpacked, the kids and I told some fun Scooby-Dooesque ghost stories as we unpacked. Then we all went on a tour of the castle. It is beautiful and one of the most amazing places that I have ever stayed.
Our exploring came to an end and we sat our tired and weary selves down inside the elegant restaurant inside the castle. I was incredibly hungry and a bit grumpy from the day’s adventures. Unfortunately, so were the kids. My two year old would not sit still and so I decided to take him up to the room and have room service delivered while my wife and other two kids finished their meal in the restaurant. A little while later, my daughter arrived at the room and said that she wanted to stay with me instead of eating in the restaurant. And so we waited and talked about our travels. Then, my daughter brought up the ghost that lived next door. We laughed a bit and made ghost noises and then I assured her that there were no such things as ghosts.
As we watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in Spanish, we heard a knock at the door. I jumped up in a hurry because I had been salivating ever since I had looked at the menu in the restaurant and was anxious to eat. But when I opened the door, nobody was there. I stuck my head out into the hallway to see if there was someone at our other door, but nobody was there either. Closing the door behind me, I caught the eyes of my daughter, who was staring at my empty hands.
“Where’s your food?”
“Nobody was there.”
We made a funny look at each other that said what we were both thinking. A few minutes later, a loud pounding bounced the picture frame on the wall. Jumping up again, I ran to the door and quickly opened it, but again, nobody was there.
“Who was it?”
“I didn’t see anyone.”
“It’s the ghost, isn’t it?”
“No sweetie, there’s no such thing as…”
The doorknob began to jiggle as I stood next to it. I yanked the door open, but again, nobody was there. As though I was the dumb guy who is the first one killed off in a horror story, I placed the dead bolt in front of the door so it wouldn’t lock behind me and stepped into the hallway. I walked half-way down and looked, but all was quiet. When I returned to the room, my daughter and toddler sat huddled together on a chair in the corner.
“Did you see the ghost?”
“Don’t be. There’s no reason to be scared.”
With the hair raised on the back of my neck and goose bumps running down my arms, I hugged my kids and assured them that everything was okay. That the castle was old and makes sounds. That there was nothing to worry about and even if there was a ghost, nobody had ever been harmed.
Boom, Boom, Boom! Another knock pounded on the door. More annoyed now than nervous, I quickly flung open the door. This time, a startled waiter stood outside my door with my dinner in his hands. I signed my ticket and chowed down.
We didn’t hear any more noises during our stay and the door knobs stayed still. Maybe the ghost of 712 wanted to entertain my kids and me while we waited for the food. Or, maybe castles are simply old and creaky. All I know is that I had to reassure an 8 year old girl with big wide eyes that all was fine and there was nothing to be scared of, even though I was a bit squeamish myself.
So if you are lucky enough to stay at the Parador de Cardona, bring along some ear plugs in case you stay on the 7th floor. It might get a little noisy.