Spent our last week in Europe in Portugal. We took a nearly 12-hour bus ride overnight from Seville in southern Spain to Porto in northern Portugal, and things were perfect from the start. LIke the name implies, Porto is the world capital of port wine, and we wasted no time getting to a cellar to begin our tastings. The port was fantastic, and we spent much of the week indulging in different bottles.
We rented a car in Porto and spent the next 4 days touring around. We drove along the Douro River, spent a night renegade camping atop a mountain (an accidental detour), checked out the Douro Valley, and then enjoyed the coastal towns of Nazare, Figueria da Foz, Peniche, and Ericeira. After many beach picnics, campouts, grilled fish dinners, and many kilometers, we concluded our second road trip in Lisbon, and spent the next 2 days chilling out in the lovely and fabulous Hostel Oasis, taking it easy and getting ready for our rapidly-approaching journey to the Dark Continent.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Well, it´s our last day in Spain and it has been quite a journey so far. We´ve covered more ground in the last 3 weeks than I did in the first 3 months of studying here. Crazy. But it´s all been pretty fabulous... except for the damn $ to € conversion rate, which is painful to say the very least.
After a great week in Madrid celebrating the new year, picnicing in the park, checking out the Prado and sleeping in, we headed on down south to sunny, warm, lovely Andalucía. Our first stop was Granada, where we enjoyed flamenco, late night reggae dancing, a sunny hike among hills above the city, an abundance of dreadlock mullets, avoiding Gypsies trying to pawn off rosemary sprigs, our first full moon on the road, and sunrise from the Alhambra (yes, that means we actually were up before the sunrise). After just a couple of days staying in the noisiest hostel ever and overpaying for every café con leche, we were ready to move on.
Next on the list was Córdoba, the city where I spent spring semester of 2004 having the time of my life. Needless to say, I was excited to go back. After a night in a freezing cold, cave-like, sorry excuse for a hostal, we found a room up on the roof of a hostal in the Judería, complete with our own terrace and lovely view of the city. I was really excited to see my Spanish family, but tried to call unsuccessfully 4 different times. After drinking some Guinness at the Irish bar around the corner, I finally
decided to just go by the apartment and ring the bell; within moments we were welcomed into the house by the whole entire family and spent the night eating dinner, drinking wine, and speaking rapid-fire Spanish. We also had the good fortune to go out and botellón with my Spanish brother, and I was happy to find that the botellón is alive & well in Córdoba. It was lovely to be back, but altogether strange to be a tourist in a town that I used to call home. Not to mention, of course, that it´s not quite the same place without all my awesome California buddies there to share it with. (I miss you dudes, but I botelloned, ate helado in Tendillas, hit up the Irish pub, and took a siesta in the sun on the terraza just for you!)
At the moment, we´re in Seville, taking it easy before hopping a midnight bus to Portugal. But we´re making sure to do our last day right, with plenty of wandering around the old city, a picnic in Plaza España, all our clothes washed & dried (oh, the joy of clean clothes), and a 5€ feast along with a whole lotta drinking la sangría del pobre on the menu for tonight (that´s sangria of the poor man, made from ,72€ wine with orange Fanta, for those of you who don´t know, and it is damn good).
I will, undoubtedly, miss Spain once again. But we´re ready to move on. In any case, here are some bests/worsts of the last 3 weeks:
- jarras de sangría; café con leche cada día; 3 bedroom apt in Barcelona; ,80€ wine; sleeping in; waking up; free freezing camping on xmas eve; balconies; baby Jesus displays; eternal xmas/halloween in Madrid?; mercado lunches; barato borracho; Joe´s made up Spanish; panaderías; hostels with a view; café in bed
-screaming bratty fat kids; hostals closed for the winter; vegetariano = con jámon; waking up early; evil santas (they´re still up!); trying to park anywhere; calamari bocadillos; exchange rate!; streets smelling like fumes/dog shit/ trash; scary baby Jesus displays; fireworks and metal storefront doors going off outside the window all night