Sunday, April 13, 2008

Week of fiestas and siestas in the Iberian peninsula

Matt's deserted me for the past few weeks to do celebrities' biddings and let them touch his shoulders, so finally here's the recap of my trip last month to Portugal and Spain! As I already mentioned, we did very well for ourselves, covering 3 towns in Portugal, and 2 in Spain over 7 day, and averaging 4-5 meals per day. I also found some amazing hostels. And when I say "hostel," I mean hostels where you have a private room, private bathroom, towels, hairdryer, balcony, and daily maid service for 28 euro each.

Because our pilot chose the word "severe" to describe the turbulence expected for our overnight flight, I did not sleep a wink and spent the whole trip over squeezing Matt's hand and hoping I might be doing it hard enough that he would wake up and console me and feel bad for me. But that did not happen.

We started in Lisboa. When we got into the city at 7 am, we dropped our bags off at the Lisbon Lounge Hostel (2 major thumbs up!) and got on a train to Cascais (pronounced kahsh-kah-eesh). Portuguese has lots of 'sh's and 'gshh's.

Cascais is a ritzy suburb of Lisboa on the ocean where they have cute little shops and FREE BIKES. Just give them your passport number and hostel info. So we hopped on the bikes and bopped around the town, ate a picnic lunch by the ocean, and rode up the coast for an hour.

We spent the next day (Easter) in Lisboa, which was pretty empty because of the holiday. We roamed around, climbed to the castle where you pay to enter and explore and get 360 degrees of the area.

In the evenings, we decided to opt out of the clubbing because I don't think I could have kept my eyes open until 2 am when supposedly everything comes alive. Instead, we found the Irish pub (which the guy in the hostel told us was not really very cool to be), and watched the soccer games. Then we got a bottle of wine (average price, you know, like 3-4 euro) and played Rummy 500 and spit at the Lisbon Lounge.

Next we flew to Sevilla (1 hour), and met up with MARTHA!

We ate more menus del dia and explored and walked around. The Plaza de Espana was expansive and gorgeous. The semi-circular plaza contains monuments celebrating the main cities of spain.

Sevilla has lots of gorgeous hand painted ceramics, so I bought several dishes for my home.

We went to a sort of pathetic flamenco show. Not because the performers were bad, but it was a huge bar that contained probably 80% american students studying there (many with their parents, presumably giving them a cultural experience ...) and everyone was blathering and chatting and being so loud while they were performing, it was ridic. We had lots of sangria though, so that was great.

The next day, we went to the Arab baths. This is basically a spa where you spend 1 1/2 hours, splitting your time between 4 pools of differing temperatures (boiling hot to freezing cold), as well as jet pools, a sauna, and getting a massage and drinking tea. This experience cost us 30 euro (16 without the massage). It was serene and calm and relaxing and lovely. We had to wear protective footware to keep the floors clean.

We took a day trip to Tarifa (on the strait of Gibraltar, 35 min boat ride from Tangier). Tarifa is WINDY. It's a major kite surfing location, and it has a surf-town USA vibe. We had lots of fun seeing Africa and talking about how we could see Africa and trying unsuccessfully to fix our hairstyles. We also played with and hugged random dogs in the streets.

Roamed around at night, explored the streets, tasted the local ice cream, looked at Africa.

We had our nightly feast around 10 pm, and ordered tapas galore and local spanish cheeses as well as an extremely large pan of paella. By the time it came we were all stuffed. But it was so fresh and delicious that we all but licked the pan clean.

We had another day back in good ole Sevilla and then went back to Lisboa for a our last day. We decided to go to the SUPER ridiculously charming town of Sintra, in the mountains for the day. We did a hike through a park up to the fortress and had an amazing lunch and soaked in all of the quaint beauty and food and cobblestones and weaving.

Best last day ever. We came home, sadly, and I'm still adjusting.


Maize said...

Awww, that sounds like a fabulous trip! I love the protective footwear. And I love the fact that you kept squeezing Matt's hand and he wouldn't wake up. It's funny because you're alive and well.

Can we go to LITM?

Steph said...

I want you to know that your photo albums on facebook made me seriously consider Spain as a destination after the bar exam. The food itself was enough to hook me!

anna said...

Steph, you should totally go. I can tell you where to stay!

Paul said...

Just read this post, Belgium seems like its going to be boring now. I'll console myself by getting drunk and pretending like I'm riding a free bike.