Europe, North America · 18 Days · 17 Moments · August 2016

Jo Sue's adventure in Spain

16 September 2016

Post Script: I had only slept for 3 hours and got the wake up call an hour early. Got to the airport and had a wait of more than 2 hours. The plane from Lisbon to New Jersey took off 45 minutes late, got nearly 2 hours out from Lisbon, and we had to go back to the airport cuz they detected something wrong in the kitchen area. Luckily they were able to fix it but it took nearly 2 hours. We made it to NJ but I had, of course, misconnected. The only plane that had a seat didn't leave until 10:25p. So instead of getting to LA at 6:45p, it was 12:30a! The rest went like this: Landed at 12:30; at the gate at 1a; got an Uber at 1:30; got home at 2a; had a shower and got to sleep at 3:30a; woke up at 6:30a and did the laundry and took my walk. Somewhat jet lagged but not bad considering. Am home, happy, tan, and 3 pounds lighter! Strange being by myself and not with 40 others!!!

14 September 2016

Day 17: What a finale! Today we first traveled to a explored a beautiful resort coastal town that hosts both surfers and millionaire vacationers and home owners. It was breathtaking and charming. We then went on to Sintra, a mountain village with a Royal Palace dating back to the Middle Ages, which was pretty amazing/spectacular. A phenomenal outing! Then back to Lisbon, some final shopping (found my match with Deanna, who can case a shop as quickly as I and loves to walk and look/shop. We ended our trip with a wonderfully fun and somewhat rowdy Farewell Dinner. As it turns out, the group came together nicely (and surprisingly). Of the 41 of the group, 16 are going on to Madeira; the rest of us are heading home tomorrow. The trip fulfilled my expectations plus some. Loved every minute of it and ending up enjoying and liking most of the people (I didn't dislike anyone; I just didn't get to know all 41 enough to sa y). This is my last entry. I hope that you who followed me enjoyed it.

13 September 2016

Day 16: This morning we took a 4-hour bus tour of Lisbon, which included stops at major sites and monuments and, of course, the history that contextualizes them. It's different from Spain, also beautiful and interesting. A few of us decided to visit the special Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Disastrous! Two traffic accidents, heavy traffic, and 45 minutes later we arrived to discover it's close on Tuesdays. Took a cab back to Commercial Square at the river (scenic, beautiful) and walk and shopped til 4p when we met up with our guide and the group for a ride on a tram to the top of a hill with a fabulous overview followed by a walk back down the hill, seeing more sites and monuments. We ended the evening having dinner in a spectacular historic casino, now a sort of banquet hall. Another busy and great day.

12 September 2016

Day 15: Homemade ice cream topped with the most delicious hot chocolate sauce: our dessert/reward for a foreign a half hour drive from Seville on our way to Lisbon. There we were not only treated to a homemade lunch, but to a session on how the horse farm works and performances by some of the stunning horses. We then drove to Lisbon arriving at about 5:30 PM. After taking an orientation walk in the neighborhood, I went to dinner with a couple of friends. We ended the evening by taking pictures from the ninth floor Bar of the castle on the hill and the beautiful surroundings. Lisbon is a city with many hills and very different from the cities we have visited in Spain. Looking forward to a bus tour around the entire city tomorrow and then a hike and a walk before out to dinner with the whole group. A long but rewarding day.

11 September 2016

Day 14: Today we toured Saville, first. On the bus and then on foot through the old town, the old Jewish quarter, and a tour of the largest cathedral in the world (by area). After a short break to shower and dress for the evening we went to an incredible Flamenco dance performance, after an explanation of the art and paraphernalia of the dance. We had dinner before the performance, which, again, was phenomenal! Tomorrow we leave for Lisbon, where we spend our last 3 days. I love and will miss Spain!
Day 13: A Day late in reporting. We traveled to Seville and on the way stopped first at a bull breeding farm. It is run by a former building entrepreneur who at age 34 decided to become a bullfighter! Fascinating. We then traveled to the small town of Ronda. We were so lucky to be there the one day in the year that they have a huge bullfight and festival and everyone comes to the bullfight from all over the world decked out in flamenco and other Spanish outfits! People will pay up to $2000 per ticket to see the fights. The town was mobbed and festive and so much fun! We spent a few hours there. We then came into Savillle where we had dinner at our hotel after a long day on the road, but a terrific day.

9 September 2016

Day 12: What a delightful surprise today. I didn't think much of, nor what to expect from our visit to Malaga. It seemed that every few blocks there was a new old town or new site to see. It was a delightful visit. We first drove through major portions of the town and then did a walking tour through a major part of the old town, which is where Pablo Picasso was born! I have a picture of me sitting next to a bronze statue of him. There also is a brand new museum for works of Picasso in the town. After leaving the town we drove to a mountain village of 300 people called Salinas. There we were divided into five groups each of which went to a different home and had a lunch prepared by the hostess in the home. This is a feature of Grand Circle and Oat tours: the home hosted meal. It's always interesting and I translated for my group! Back to Torremelinos. Some explored the "upper level" of the town (me) and others went to the beach. Tonight I had dinner with two of my favorite people.

8 September 2016

Day 11: Up at 5am to get ready to leave at 6:30 AM for Tangier. We rode for two hours in our coach, with most of us dozing off and on, and then one hour on a pretty cool ferry boat across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangier. The Rock of Gibraltar is quite impressive! We were driven around some of the upscale neighborhoods, which are or have been populated by many of the rich and famous and are beautiful. We then spent time walking around and through the marketplace. The sights, sounds, and smells were striking. Fortunately we were there on a Thursday, as the market only happens on Thursdays and Saturdays. We ended our experience in Tangier at a lovely restaurant where we were served a Moroccan lunch including my favorite Moroccan dish the pastilla. It was delicious and enough to serve for both lunch and dinner for me. After the rather long but beautiful drive back, I took a short walk and then came back and did laundry. Tomorrow includes a tour of Malaga.

7 September 2016

Day 10: Another really hot day! 104 degrees. Visited the town of Cordoba, which is home to a most amazing mosque, in which the Christians built a beautiful cathedral when the Moors were home. It is a World Heritage Site. Also visited the Jewish district, which includes a synagogue, the design of which is greatly influenced by the Moors. Interesting day. We were all happy, though, to get back on the air conditioned coach. We arrived in Torremelinos around 5:30, a delightful beach town on the Costa del Sol. Our hotel is great and just across from the beach. And the weather is wonderful: low 80s. Tonight 3 of us had a yummy dinner at a restaurant on the beach. (I didn't eat dinner last night or lunch today as the extreme heat left me with no appetite and slightly nauseous so dinner was a treat.). We them walked down to the water and put our feet in the water. Lovely!! Tomorrow we leave at 6:30 am for a day in Tangier (Morocco). I'm excited about it.

6 September 2016

Day 9: I need not have been concerned that Grand Circle (parent company of OAT, which is the one I've previously traveled with) would be less active than OAT trips. I've walked 6-7 miles a day and much of it up hill! A few of us keep going during the mid day breaks, seeking out more to fit in to our already very busy days. We toured The Alhambra today, which, as have the other sites we've visited, was terrific--beautiful and so interesting historically. I love learning about the history of Spain! We then had a group lunch at a local tapas place. I may never eat again, I was so full. No dinner tonight -- diet 7 Up to settle my stomach-upset from eating the tapas, some of which were fried. BtW, my head cold is getting better. 👏 after lunch 3 of us walked to and explored the Arabic market. After 3 hours we rejoined the group of a walking tour of the old town. Then back to the hotel around 8p, drained. It was about 104 here today. Another day of extreme heat tomorrow.

5 September 2016

Day 8: Up early and drove to Toledo, a charming, historic town that is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. A fabulous guide took us for a walk/hike around the hilly town for about 2 1/2 hours. So interesting! Jews, Christians, & Muslims were integrated in town life before the Inquisition and you see symbols from the other two in the cathedrals and synagogues. Had free time in the town after the tour, then did the 4 1/2 hour drive to Granada, where tomorrow we tour/ visit to the Alhambra. I'm learning so much about the history of Spain, which I find fascinating. Very hot here -- 102 today and tomorrow then it is supposed to cool down some. I am so disappointed that I am unable to upload pix to the app as I could last year. I'll find a different app for my next journey. Actually am appreciating being away from politics. I am amazed that a group of 41 is functioning with ease -- on time, load on vehicles quickly, no complainers, and get along. Leader is great & funny!
Day 7: Madrid: Did optional trip to El Escorial (once the largest biotin the world, monastery and palace, fascinating. Great guide. Then to Valley of the Fallen where Franco is buried. Austere. Interesting. In late afternoon did s walk through and around the old town and then a bunch of us went for dinner at the oldest restaurant in the world (1725 and in operation ever since). Charming and a great experience tho food good but not the greatest. Off to the south of Spain tomorrow. LOVE Spain!!

3 September 2016

Day 5 -- Flew to Madrid and checked in to a terrific hotel, a 4 star that Marriott Courtyard bought close to a year ago. Went on an " orientation to the neighborhood" walk, a big lunch, and then several of us hightailed it to the Reina Sofia Museum, which is Madrid's MOMA. Wonderful art, the most outstanding being Picasso's Guernica. ! No dinner but dark chocolate gelato that was much like the fabulous hot chocolate in Barcelona. Yummy!

1 September 2016

Day 4. Walked thru Gothic part of town. Saw the main Cathedral and the Palau de la Musica -- amazing building. Also oldest synagogue in Barcelona. Visited Picasso Museum, which was terrific. Also did an architectural walk in the late afternoon. Oh. ☚ī¸ I accidentally set my alarm for pm so slept til the tour leader called, woke me up, and gave me 5 minutes to join the group, which was waiting. Embarrassed to say the least. I made it in 5 minutes and everyone was very kind and forgiving. Leave tomorrow and am sad to go. On to Madrid!
Day 3 - yesterday. Up early to visit Monsarrat. Beautiful mountain ( sculptured), monastery, and a strenuous but great 1:45 hike!! Hot chocolate you have to eat w/ a spoon for a decadent lunch. Gaudi's Parc Gruell in the afternoon. Love this city more and more each day!

30 August 2016

Day 2 - Wednesday, Aug. 30. Still haven't heard how to upload pix so for now just notes. Today did bus tour of the city, toured Gaudi's Sagrada Familia (in my opinion the most awesome, remarkable church I've seem anywhere in the world I've been), and walked The Ramblas. What a day! Stayed on The Ramblas for dinner and walked back to the hotel during twilight and beyond. Gorgeous. What a city!!!
Redo of day one August 29. Arrived somewhat rested after sleeping soundly and deeply on my flatbed seat on United. Walked around the neighborhood of my hotel which is beautiful. Highlight of the d ay was Gaudi's Casa Batilo. So amazing! And, happily, there's tons of Gaudi's work in this fabulous city! Can't remember or figure out how to add pictures. Hope to get help from the app people.