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Road Trip in Spain & Portugal
The 3 Guiris
Today marks the end of my travels in Spain with my dad and my uncle. About a week ago, they both joined me as we did a road trip through the Iberian Pensinsula, visiting a handful of Portugese cities and traveling through Castilla y León and Madrid.
My dad and I left Badajoz last Monday (exactly a week ago), and we headed straight for Lisbon where my uncle joined us the next morning. After enjoying an entire day in the beautiful and oldest district of Lisbon (Alfama), we headed to Coimbra. Coimbra was an important stop for me because it is home to the oldest university in Portugal that is still in operation. I ended up meeting a very kind Erasmus student at a cafe in Coimbra who happened to be studying at the university as well; Erasmus is a program within the European Union that offers study abroad opportunities for college students.
After our stop in Coimbra, we headed to Porto. This city was a gastronomical hotspot, and I was so excited to explore our trajectory of different cuisines. Porto is home to Livraria Lello, which is referred to as the most beautiful bookstore in the world where even JK Rowling supposedly got inspiration for Harry Potter. We also happened to be in Porto on são João (San Juan festival day), a nationwide festival. Celebrating this event on the banks of the Duoro River, we joined the festivities and many citizens in watching the fireworks at midnight.
From Porto, we headed back to Spain, and our next stop was Salamanca. I was really excited to visit Salamanca because the University of Salamanca is the oldest one in the Iberian Peninsula and it is one of the oldest universities in the world! Even Miguel de Cervantes (author of the Spanish classic Don Quijote) was a student of this now 800-year-old university. We enjoyed the beautiful plaza of Salamanca and made our way to Segovia, a small province in the autonomous community of Castilla y León that is located very close to Madrid. Segovia was an ancient Roman settlement, and a large intact Roman aqueduct runs through the middle of the city. Our last night in Segovia, we enjoyed a nice orchestra performance eating Lebanese food under the aqueduct — it made for quite the experience. Segovia is also home to the castle that inspired Walt Disney for the Snow White castle. They are quite literally the same castle!
We also visited the city of Valladolid in another province of Castilla y León. I was able to ride the ultra fast AVE train back from Valladolid to Segovia, although I missed my initial first connection (thanks to a plan hatched by my uncle!). My first experience in a European train was certainly memorable.
My last day (which happens to be today) was spent in the beautiful city of Madrid near the Santiago Bernabéu, the home stadium of Real Madrid CF. Being a fan myself after my semester in Spain, I was most excited to get some official merchandise from the store on Gran Vía. The end of today concludes my road trip in Spain as well as my entire semester in the Iberian Peninsula. I’ll be on my flight back home tomorrow, and although I’m sad to leave Spain, I’m excited to come back. It feels good to come back home.
The two large photos show the Universities of Coimbra and Salamanca (left and right respectively). The other pictures show a variety of beautiful buildings from Coimbra, Porto, Lisbon; the view of the Atlantic Ocean was in Porto.
The fireworks are from the night of festivities in Porto. The beautiful staircase is from the “most beautiful bookshop in the world”: Livraria Lello. The bamboo gardens are from Coimbra while the castle on the bottom right is the Snow White castle in Segovia known as the Alcázar.
This trip has been a gastronomic foodfest. We have tried so many regional and international cuisines in these major cities. I’ve picked up lots of inspiration for my culinary experiments at home :)