Trip Update #1…Spain and Portugal

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve sent an update about what’s going on with my travels. Like I mentioned yesterday, I’m now back home in New Jersey. I’d rather not get into why I’m here, but suffice to say I need to spend the next few weeks with my family and loved ones.

As of now, I plan on flying back into Madrid sometime in early June. With that said, I wanted to show a few pictures and discuss some of the things I’ve experienced in the last month.

I’m NOT a Travel Writer…Or the Best Photographer

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a travel writer. So, you won’t find any particularly insightful comments about the places I’ve visited.

Furthermore, I’m not a great photographer. My father once told me that one of the things he’s learned is to take more pictures of people, than pictures of places. Unfortunately when you travel alone, it’s hard to get many pictures of the people I’m encountering.

Bottom line is I’ve taken a lot of photos of what I’ve seen, but not many people pictures.

Making Friends and Meeting People

One of the biggest challenges to traveling alone is making friends. To give myself that extra push, I decided to develop the habit of meeting three people each day. While this was challenging at first, I quickly adapted to the mindset of consistently starting conversations with people I don’t know.

One of the things that helped is to stay in hostels. While I’m a little older than your average “backpacker”, I’ve found these places to be an invaluable resource for meeting many people who share the same traveling mindset.

Okay, with the preliminaries out of the way, let’s go over some of the places I’ve visited…

Toledo, Spain

When I first landed in Madrid, I spent a few days adjusting to the time change and finishing up some work. So, technically the first place I visited was Toledo, Spain.

Toledo is one of the places where Miguel de Cervantes lived. I really only spent an afternoon here, walking around taking pictures and checking out some incredible architecture. As you can see from the pictures, this is a pretty amazing looking city.

The highlight of this trip was I got to stay in a hostel that was a converted 14th century castle. It was cool to know I was sleeping in a castle that’s been around for almost 700 years.

Here are the pictures:

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Sevilla, Spain

I spent almost an entire week in Sevilla, Spain. During the day I toured many sites of the city, including The Alcazar and The Cathedral, which supposedly includes the tomb of Christopher Columbus. In addition, I had my first fix of my present addiction to Tapas.

Here are some pictures of what I saw:

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In addition to having a lot interesting tourist sites, Sevilla has a very rich and vibrant nightlife. While I did the traditional bar crawl with my new friends, I did the “tourist thing” and enjoyed a good amount of Sangria while watching a couple of Flamenco shows.

Naturally, I encountered a pretty wide cast of characters during my nighttime activities. Check out what I saw:

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One point of interest is there is a huge variety in the types of flamenco shows. For instance the “tourist flamenco” shows cater to people visiting Sevilla. These are what you would expect to see when you come to this cite. Here are a few videos that I took:

On the other hand, a few friends and I discovered a more “local flamenco” show. This was in the middle of a part of Sevilla that people don’t visit. It was in a small bar, populated with locals. The performance had an atmosphere where everyone knew each other and the people ‘on stage’ where more friends than performers.

For instance, one of the locals was with his friends and decided to have an impromptu dance with the main singer. See what I mean here:

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Sevilla and wish I could have stayed there longer.

Granada, Spain

Granada, Spain definitely has a small college town vibe to it. After a pretty long week of fun in Sevilla, I was ready to relax for a few days and check out a few sites.

The highlight of this city is The Alhambra. This is a 14th century castle that is simply too amazing to describe. We saw it at night where you can see the entire Granada skyline.

Take a look at these pictures:

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Lagos, Portugal

I was completely amazed by what I saw in Lagos, Portugal. The view of the rocks and water along the coastline are almost indescribable. I spent a number of days walking along the coastline with friends and simply relaxing on the beach.

Here’s what I mean:

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Besides being picturesque, Lagos also has a pretty wild nightlife. The place has a large number of bars, filled with Canadians, Brits, Aussies and a scattering of Americans. In fact, one of the places has a pretty good hook to get customers to “enjoy” themselves more. On the wall is a running count of which countries have done the most ‘beer funnels.’ (You have to wear a goofy helmet to participate.)

To keep this site somewhat professional, I won’t show pictures of me representing the U.S., but here are a few shots of the Lagos nightlife:

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Sangres, Portugal

A side trip I took while in Lagos, was to the town of Sagres. This is the most southwestern part of Europe. It’s also famous for being a focal point for many of the discoveries made by Henry the Navigator.

I found Sagres to be another picturesque location. Some of the scenery was like looking at a computer screensaver. Here’s what I mean:

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Madrid, Spain

After Lagos, I took a long bus and train ride into Madrid, Spain. There I met a friend from home and we spent six days touring around and checking out the sites of the city.

Some of the highlights:

  • Walked through the Prado Museum and looked for the most bizarre paintings we could find (she and I aren’t really that mature)
  • Followed a few local Spaniards, trying to find a fun nightclub. The entire conversation consisted of the word “Schweepps” that identified the location of the club.
  • Saw a few parts of the San Isidro festival.
  • And generally enjoyed a relaxing few days walking around the city.

My friend prefers that I don’t post pictures with her in it, but here are some shots I took throughout the last few days:

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Avila, Spain and Segovia, Spain

My friend and I took a nice daytrip to Avila and Segovia. Both of these cities where pretty cool to check out. Since we only spent a few hours in each, I wish I could have stayed longer and seen more of what each has to offer.

Here are the pics from Avila:

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And these are the photos from Segovia:

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What Now???

Like I said, I’ll be spending a few weeks back home in New Jersey. But in early June, I’ll be heading back to Madrid. From there, it looks like I’ll be flying into Italy. I’m not sure where this will be, but I’m hoping to see many sites that I missed when I visited this country last summer.

Well, I hope you enjoyed some of the highlights and pictures in this post.

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4 thoughts on “Trip Update #1…Spain and Portugal”

  1. great pics Steve…

    Makes me realize how much i miss Sevilla…. I studied there for a summer semester in college and haven’t been back since… but i think i’ll need to hit it up next time.

    • Yes, I really loved Sevilla. It was pretty hard to leave there… was thinking about going back there next year and spending a few months to become fluent Spanish.

    • Hola Samuel, Como estas?

      Spain and Portugal were particularly beautiful places. I really enjoyed my time there. If you get the chance someday you really should take the time to go and visit Spain. It is absolutely wonderful.

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