Spain & Portugal 2011 Adventure

Cathedrals and castles! Hill cities going back to the time of the Romans! Gypsies, and dancers, and opera singers! New friends and great food! There was always more food and red wine than we could consume. The fish was excellent. I especially enjoyed the cheese and the Portuguese bread.

The 2011 Spain & Portugal adventure began April 16th. We took the Trafalgar 'Highlights of Spain & Portugal' tour. We booked it through the Minneapolis AAA travel office. We signed up for all 12 optional excursions.

There were 46 of us. Many had been on other Trafalgar tours. The other members of our group were from the US, Australia, Canada, South Africa, England, Costa Rica, India, Peru, and Ecuador. We had a great group.

Our tour guide was Maria Teresa. She nurtured us and cared for us. Augusto, our Portuguese driver was highly skilled at tight, urban driving.

We had rain a few days of the first week. This was our first trip without an umbrella, but we had rain jackets.

Both Spain and Portugal use the Euro. Merchants in Morocco and Gibraltar accepted Euros. The exchange rate varied, but was about a Euro to 1.5 USD.

Spain has 46.7 million people. Land area is 505,370 sq. km., 27% arable.

Portugal has 10.7 million people. Land area is 92,090 sq. km., 17% arable.

Morocco has 32 million people. Land area is 446,550 sq. km., 19% arable.

Gibraltar has 28,956 people. Land area is 6.5 sq. km., 0% arable.

In all 4 countries, the driving is on the 'right' side of the road. ;-) The 3000 kilometers of freeways we traveled in Spain and Portugal were new and in good condition.

We whine about $4 gasoline(2011). In 2011, it was around $6 per gallon here. I saw many wind generators and solar panels in both Spain and Portugal.

Itinerary

4/16 Depart MSP for JFK, then on to Madrid.
4/17 Arrived in Madrid, Spain about 10 AM after hours on the planes, and 6 time zones, without luggage.
4/18 Madrid-Toledo-Cordoba.
4/19 Cordoba-Grenada. Our luggage caught up with us.
4/20 Granada-Costa Del Sol, 2 nights. Alhambra Palace today.
4/21 Costa Del Sol. Morocco day trip. (Costa Del Rain)
4/22 Costa Del Sol-Gibraltar-Seville, 2 nights. Barbary Apes.
4/23 Seville.
4/24 Seville-Lisbon, Portugal. 2 nights
4/25 Lisbon.
4/26 Lisbon-Fatima-Oporto.
4/27 Oporto-Salamanca-Madrid. 2 nights
4/28 Madrid. Segovia excursion.
4/29 Departed Madrid for JFK, and then home. We managed to stay awake until 10:30 PM the first night home, and we slept well. It was nice to make toast without standing in line.

Spain. Our group at the Seville Cathedral! Our group at the Seville Cathedral!
Spain. Trafalgar bus and some of our group. Trafalgar bus and some of our group.
Even in late April, Spain has snow in the mountains. The morning we left Cordoba, there were 4 people at the hotel with skis, dressed in ski gear. Snow in the mountains.
Spain. Our well-traveled luggage caught up with us on Day 4 in Grenada. Alas, the red one did not survive the trip. Our well-traveled luggage caught up with us on Day 4 in Grenada.
Spain. Pebble sidewalk. Imagine the time it took to set this pattern in cement. The tops of the pebbles were ground flat for better traction when it rains. Pebble sidewalk.
A yellow mailbox in Spain. A yellow mailbox in Spain.
Spain. Natural column. Looks like terrazzo, but it's natural. Natural column.
Morocco. A juvenile camel with its mother. Juvenile camel with its mother in Morocco.
Gibraltar from the east on a gray day. Gibraltar from the east on a gray day.
Barbary macaque in Gibraltar. Barbary macaque in Gibraltar.
Notice anything special about these tiles?
Both colors are the same size and shape.
 .
Lisboa, Portugal. Some of us walked all the way down to the River Tagus. Lisboa, Portugal. Some of us walked all the way down to the River Tagus.
Bird nests. Bird nests.
Elevator call pedestal. Enter your floor number. The best elevator number to take is displayed. There were no controls inside the elevators. The system was fast and efficient. Elevator call pedestal.
Spanish Pavilion. Spanish Pavilion.
'Compass rose' memorial to Henry the Navigator. Compass rose memorial to Henry the Navigator.
Sun dial in Segovia, Spain.
12:45 standard time.
Sun dial in Segovia.
Disney castle in Segovia, Spain. Disney castle in Segovia.
Forgot to tip in Segovia. Forgot to tip in Segovia.
Knight's Templar 12 sided temple in Segovia. Knight's Templar 12 sided temple in Segovia.
Egyptian temple of Debod in Madrid, with reflecting pool.
This was originally 15 km south of Aswan, but was donated to Spain in 1960 by the Egyptian government, in appreciation for help received from Spain.
Egyptian temple in Madrid. Reflecting pool.

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