February 21 2013 by Claudia Kunkel
They say everyone should have a passion and I agree. My passion is and always has been travel - a need to keep moving, exploring and experiencing everything this planet has to offer. This past year my husband and I set our sights set on visiting the Iberian Peninsula of Portugal and the beautiful White Hill Towns of Andalusia in Spain.
We were anxious to see the cobblestone streets of Lisbon, sample their exquisite Port and ride the ancient trams up the daunting hillsides. A short train ride outside Lisbon took us to the charming village of Sintra where we wandered through the fairy-tale castle of Pena Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Traveling from Portugal to Spain is not as easy as it looks on the map. It requires a local train to Faro, a town on the very southern tip of Portugal where we spent several hours drinking wine, staring at the Atlantic Ocean and chatting with Portuguese locals who were anxious to practice their English. From Faro it was a 4 hour bus ride over to Seville, Spain.
We immediately fell in love with Seville. The city is vibrantly alive both day and night. For several days we simply wandered the narrow, medieval streets enjoying the sights, sounds, tapas and wine. I loved walking around and seeing the meshing of Roman, baroque, Gothic, Islamic and Renaissance architecture reflected in all the buildings. We also found great accommodations at the BEST WESTERN Hotel Cervantes located near the beautiful Gothic Cathedral.
From Seville it was on to the picturesque town of Ronda in the White Hill Towns of Andaulsia. This overnight stop turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. The next day we had tickets to the Alhambra in Granada. The Alhambra is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best example of Moorish influence in southern Spain and one of the reasons we had traveled to Spain. From Granada, it was a push on to Cordoba which turned out to be an unexpected pleasure and some of the best food we dined on while in Spain. From Cordoba we caught the train up to Madrid to spend a night before flying back to Phoenix.
I can now cross Portugal and Spain off my "to see" list and move on to the next country. The problem is I just can't decide which country it should be! If you have any ideas, let me know, I'd love to read them.