Portugal

I spent a couple weeks driving around these two countries one time (with my girlfriend at the time). It has to be one of the best vacations one could take. I had been to Spain before, but I really didn’t appreciate it until doing it like this. Obviously it’s a beautiful country, but it’s easy to miss how geographically diverse it is as well. Madrid is one of the best European cities there is, but like London and Paris (and others of course), it’s a giant sprawling landscape of old buildings mixed with new developments.

Like every major European city there are many squares and many roundabouts, each with its special statue in the center. For me, Madrid was about cafes and food. Lisbon, kind of the same thing except there you get many different types of cities in one. Coastal areas and hillside areas remind me of San Francisco. The real amazement came when we started to hit the southern areas. Driving through southern Portugal with its old beach towns. The algarve area is really quaint and cool. The Southern coast of Spain gets even better in my opinion.

Tarifa is a tip jutting out just like Gibraltar. They call it the balcony of Europe and you can see Africa from there on a clear day. You can take a quick ferry to Morocco (Tangier) from there (we did) and see a whole new country and continent, if only for a day. The town of Nerja on the coast is another gem. Dotted with giant boulders it creates these perfect private beaches for anyone to use. There is a path along the coast and when you find a sandy pocket that you like you just walk down and chill. Easily one of the coolest beach settings you are going to get…and you can let everything go should you choose, which I thought was pretty cool. The white hill town area (we went to Ronda) is another amazing area with all these towns built on top of mountains and in the sides of cliffs. The mountain drive there was definitely a flirtation with death, but worth it. There are plenty of other great places…Grenada, Barcelona, etc…but the true finds were the places I hadn’t heard of. Lastly, wine and ham, wine and ham, wine and ham. Obviously there is more to it, but I love Spanish food and drink.

Notes to self:

-Renting a car is easy…and the highways for the most part are brand new and empty
-Trains…even the super nice ones…even in first class…in 2015…did not have wifi……….clown shoes.


Hotels

Metropole Lisbon (Apr. 2006)

Hotel Riomar Lagos (Apr. 2006)