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Spain & Portugal Travel Articles

Travel notes and articles for Spain and Portugal. Articles posted must be approved by the Admin before they are published.
On Slow Europe we divide information into regions for each country. Regions of Spain These are the current administrative regions (from west to east and north to south). Galicia Asturias Cantabria Basque Country La Rioja Navarre Aragon Catalonia Castile and Leon Madrid Extremadura Castilla-La Mancha Valencia Andalusia Murcia Balearic Islands Canary Islands https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_communities_of_Spain Regions of Portugal These are not the official administrative regions. Lisbon Porto Northern Portugal Central Portugal Southern Portugal Algarve Madeira Azores https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portugal
Port is the signature beverage of Portugal. This presentation provides individuals with an introduction its production and types. Comments, corrections and criticisms from connoisseurs regarding their experiences and preferences are welcome. This article was written in PowerPoint, so I will insert an image of each page below.
Sherry is a signature beverage of Spain. This presentation provides individuals with an introduction its production and types. Comments, corrections and criticisms from connoisseurs regarding their experiences and preferences are welcome. This article was written in PowerPoint, so I will insert an image of each page below.
El Puerto de Santa Maria is located on the coast in southern Spain, in the Andalusia region. It is in the Cadiz province, on the Guadalete River mouth, on the Cadiz Bay. A short ferry ride or commuter train journey from the city of Cadiz is El Puerto. It is one of the points of the sherry triangle. The other two points are Sanlucar de Barrameda and Jerez de la Frontera. Visitors are able to sample all varieties of sherry at any number of bodegas in El Puerto. Osbourne is the largest in the city. As with many towns along this coast, El Puerto has associations with Columbus. He stayed at the local castle while awaiting word from Ferdinand and Isabella. The well where he took on drinking water for his voyage is still seen on the malecon...
Braga Braga (population 160,000) has an historic center with many 18th century houses covered in colorful decorative tile. It was settled in Roman times and in the 12th century was the country's religious capital. Many religious festivals are still held here. An elegant cafe, Cafe Brasileira, is in the city center. Location: Portugal - Minho - Braga Website: Portugal Tourism - Visit Portugal The famous church Bom Jesus do Monte, built in the late 18th century, sits on a hillside above Braga and is a pilgrimage site and tourist attraction. It's long staircase goes down the hillside to the town. There are good views from the church. Bom Jesus do Monte, stairs down to Braga. Google Map https://goo.gl/maps/H7T7WYEPqKVK6oyY7 More...
The Martins Sarmento Museum (Museu Martins Sarmento) contains Celtic and Roman archaeological items found in local Iron Age settlements, including Citânia de Briteiros. This is a very interesting collection and is nicely displayed in a former convent in the center of Guimarães. Location: Portugal - Minho - Guimarães Hours: Open Tuesday to Saturday. Guided Tours of the Exhibits: Our group of three was assigned a Portuguese speaking guide. He spoke some English and our group spoke some Portuguese. There was only one other person in the museum when we were there. The guide was very informative and let us take our time to look at things. Above the cloister is an enclosed part of the museum with detailed collections of tools, pottery...
Citânia de Briteiros was an Iron Age settlement first inhabited more than 2000 years ago. The settlement was protected by four ramparts, enclosing neighborhoods, public areas, livestock areas, paved roads, and two bath structures. The archaeological site has a total area of 24 hectares, and seven hectares of uncovered ruins are open to the public. Location: Portugal - Minho - São Salvador de Briteiros Located in northern Portugal, the Minho region, north of Guimarães. Take #101 north to Caldas das Taipas, then #310 east. Left on #153. The Citânia entrance is on your left, parking on the right in an area beside the road. Hours: Open every day from 9:00 - 17:00 (winter) or 9:00 - 18:00 (summer). Visitor building has books for sale (good...
Over the last six years, my husband and I have had several extended stays in Barcelona. During the winters of 2017 and 2018, we rented an apartment for six weeks or more during the period of January through early March. There are many well-known sites in Barcelona and I will not focus on them, instead, I will try to share a few of my favorite restaurants, shops, resources for finding lesser-known fun and interesting things to do, and other tips on “living” in Barcelona. We have always stayed in the Eixample area of Barcelona and loved it! Although I have stayed in several apartments, the one we rented the last two winters was the best. It was a great apartment in a great neighborhood. We were in the Eixample only a couple of blocks from...
Imagine staying in the oldest hotel in the world, an ancient castle, a Moorish fortress, a sixteenth century palace, or even an old jail. Then, imagine staying inside one of these historical sites for a very affordable price, so affordable that it is easy to indulge in a fine dinner of local specialties and an after-dinner snifter or three of good Spanish brandy. Paradores de Turismo de Espana In Spain, imagination can become reality. The Paradores de Turismo de Espana are a network of government maintained hotels located in historic buildings, or in modern buildings in picturesque or historically significant areas. The paradores are comfortable, unique hotels that often offer the guest a bit more – a chance to "feel" history during a...
If you are going to be visiting Spain, and if you love to eat and drink, you are going to be very happy. Spain is one of the top food and wine destinations in the world, and for good reason. You can start eating early in the day and continue to eat into the wee hours of the morning. You can eat and drink in all price ranges, from practically free in some tapas bars to a small fortune in Michelin starred restaurants. When to Eat The Spanish start their day with desayuno (breakfast) of coffee and bread or pastries, usually served in bars and cafes from around 7:00am to 10:00am. Almuerzo (lunch) is usually served from 2:00pm to 4:00pm and is a long and drawn out affair, involving several courses and plenty of wine. Cena (dinner) is...
El Capricho de Gaudi, Comillas, Cantabria - An early example of Gaudi's architechural vision. Antoni Gaudi is best known for his architectural wonders in Catalonia. However, he did accept and complete commissions in other parts of Spain. Some are the Bishop's Palace in Astorga, the Casa de los Botines in Leon and El Capricho in Comillas. The house and grounds are an early work. It was built between 1883 and 1885 as a summer home for Maximo Diaz de Quijano, a merchant and music lover. Gaudi provided the inspiration and plans but did not visit Comillas to directly supervise the building of the structure. Senor Diaz did not live to enjoy this work of art. He died in 1885. The overall impression is whimsical and in line with Gaudi's love...
Albarracin, Teruel Province, Aragon - one of Spain's most beautiful villages. Location: about 40 kms. West of the City of Teruel Albarracin is always included in travel columns' “top 10” lists. Its designation stems from its location, harmonious architecture and historical significance. We visited in Spring and the cherry blossoms in the plazas around town enhanced the beauty of the place. Also it was early enough in the season that there were no crowds during the weekdays. Also early enough to see a snowflake or two drift down one morning. Founded as part of the Moorish conquest of the Iberian peninsula, it became an independent fiefdom until conquered by the King of Aragon in the 14th century. No stranger to conflict as its...
Belchite Viejo, Aragon - the ruins a a town ravaged by the Spanish Civil War. Location: about 50 Kms south from Zaragoza in Aragon; 41o18'04.74''N 0o44'55.24''W While traveling from Cardona to Albarracin we stopped at Belchite, near Zaragoza. Belchite is a sleepy rural town. However, we came to visit Belchite Viejo, a town left in ruins by the Spanish Civil War. In an effort to halt Nationalist force's advance Republican forces attacked and occupied Belchite in 1937. Members of the International Lincoln Brigade took part in the assault. Nationalist forces retook it in 1938. Franco ordered the town remain in ruins as symbol “to the irresistibility of Nationalist forces”. After the war, the new town was built by Republican prisoners...
Explore an important trading centre of ancient Rome. Location: The entrance to the ruins is approximately 100 Kms south from Cadiz; 200 Kms west of Malaga and 75 Kms west of Gibraltar. The nearest town Is Bolonia. 36o5'23.32''N 5o46'16.25''W. The Site Baelo Claudia was an important trading centre in the Roman Empire. Its chief exports were garum, a fermented fish sauce, and salted tuna. The city flourished between the 1st and 3rd centuries C.E. In the 3rd century earthquakes and pirate incursions brought about the decline of the city. It was totally abandoned by 600 C.E. Sands covered much of the area. Excavation and study of the area began in the early 20th Century and has carried on since then. A new museum/interpretive centre...
Conimbriga, Portugal's best preserved Roman Ruins. Location: Conimbriga is located approximately 15 Kms south of Coimbra at 40o05'54.32''N 8o29'25.90''W. It is in the municipality of Condeixa-a-Nova. If one is interested in Roman ruins then a stop at Conimbriga is a must. On a road trip between Porto and Lisbon it is only a short detour off the A1. The modest museum exhibits artifacts unearthed at the site and tells the story of life in a Roman colonial city. The site itself was inhabited before the Romans. However, it reached it's zenith under Roman rule in the 2nd and 3rd centuries C.E. It was destroyed around 425 C.E. by the Sueve. We were told that the wall constructed to defend against the invaders was made by tearing down the...
Tomar, a small town in Central Portugal that hosts 2 remarkable festivals and a Templar building. Location: Tomar is located about 150 kms north of Lisbon; 30 kms south east of Fatima at 39o36'13.21''N 8o25'03.08''W. In an otherwise unremarkable country town, there is a remarkable massive fortified convent/monastery the Convento do Cristo. Each Spring (usually in April) the town hosts the Templar Tuna Festival. University musical societies compete serenading their “loved” ones. Free concerts occur throughout the day in the old town square. Tickets for the evening concert sell out quickly. Also, every four years, (next event 2019) local women parade with elaborate towering headwear in the Trays Festival (Festa dos Tabulieros). The...
This is a "first course" for beginners, a brief description of some of the most common tapas that visitors can expect to find in typical tapas bar in Andalucia, southern Spain. What are Tapas? Tapas are a variety of small savoury Spanish dishes, often served as a snack with drinks, or with other tapas as a meal. "Tapear", going from bar to bar for drinks and tapas, is an essential part of the social culture of Spain, especially in the south. Because tapas are informal, and the bars are often busy, they are commonly eaten standing up at the bar or at small tables or even upturned barrels, and the atmosphere is convivial and noisy. In most tapas bars you see traditional cured hams hanging from the rafters, and many bars are decorated...
Seville (Sevilla in Spanish, pronounced se-VEE-ya) is the fourth largest city in Spain. It is the capital city and cultural and financial center of the Andalusia region in southern Spain. Founded by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago, Seville boasts one of the largest preserved old city centers in Europe, where you can see the traces of its long history in its many architectural styles, from the Arabic period through late medieval, renaissance, and baroque. The population of Seville is about 800,000 including the suburbs, and it is quite spread out, but the old center is mostly contained within the old city walls on the interior ring road (the Ronda). Unlike in larger Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona, you won't find a lot of...
The Genal Valley of the Serranía de Ronda in Málaga, Andalusia, Southern Spain The quiet and restful Genal Valley has a history that goes back hundreds of years. It is located in La Serranía de Ronda (the Ronda Mountains) just to the south of the bustling white village of Ronda, near the Mediterranean coast in southern Spain. The Genal Valley is sandwiched happily between two national parks, La Sierra de las Nieves and Grazalema, and it is commonly acknowledged as the greenest part of Andalusia. The valley is divided into upper and lower sections, with the Alto Genal (upper valley) having seven pueblos blancos (white villages) while the Bajo Genal (lower valley) has eight. Alto Genal, Juzcar - Moclon. Getting to the Genal Valley...

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