By: Gabriela Martinez
This was my first tour with Trafalgar and my first time traveling alone, so I was looking forward to Spain and Portugal with Trafalgar. In this trip, we discovered 9 major cities in 2 countries within 2 weeks as well as other smaller but interesting cities along the way.
On arrival to Madrid, we had time before our Welcome dinner, which included 6 courses of tapas accompanied by sangria. The next day, we had an included tour of Madrid’s most important landmarks, such as Plaza de España, Plaza Mayor, and Puerta del Sol, followed by churros and chocolate in a local chocolateria!. The rest of the day was free so I chose to tour the popular Parque Retiro, as well as the newly remodeled Mercado de San Miguel.
As we made our way to Zamora, we made a stop at the ancient medieval city of Segovia where we had two hours to enjoy the views of the aqueduct and taste a delicious pastry called ponche, which is unique to the city. On arrival at Zamora, we explored the beautiful Church of Mary Magdalene.
After Zamora, we headed north to Santiago de Compostela, a city known for the pilgrimages done from all around the world and for being home to the sanctuary of the apostle St. James.
We finally got to Portugal where the first attraction was Porto, the city after which the country was named. We visited the Stock Exchange Palace with a local guide and a port cellar for port tasting, a centuries-old tradition. I was also really excited to try the infamous pastel de nata, the pastry found all around the country. We opted for a cruise along the Duoro River followed by a delicious dinner in a riverfront restaurant.
Before we got to Lisbon, we had two stops. The first was Aveiro, also known as the Venice of Portugal. We were there for a short time and then left for Fatima where we visited the Basilica. Once in Lisbon, we took the metro to the city center and spent the whole afternoon there. We got to eat at a small local seafood restaurant and eat more pasteles de nata! The next day, we took an optional excursion to The Golden Triangle and the royal palace of Sintra. When in Lisbon, riding the tram is a must for all visitors!
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After two nights in the beautiful city of Lisbon, we headed back to Spain. This time to Seville. We went to the Real Alcazar, popular not only for its history but for being a filming set for Game of Thrones. The following day, we toured the Gothic Cathedral and the popular Plaza de Espana. Later that day, we delighted in an authentic Andalusian Flamenco show with dinner.
In the city of Granada, we visited the magnificent Alhambra, the perfect example of Moorish architecture and its influence in Spain. Our next stop was Valencia, the home of paella.
We went to the City of Arts and Sciences, designed by Calatrava and enjoyed authentic paella with sangria. As we made our way to our final destination, we made a stop at the port city of Peniscola where we enjoyed the Mediterranean coast before moving on.
Our last stop was Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. We enjoyed free time before heading to a city tour which included the iconic unfinished Sagrada Familia as well as Plaza de Catalunya. Our last day of this tour was for us to experience Barcelona at our own pace so we wandered through La Rambla and later that day had our Farewell Dinner in a beautiful seaside restaurant.
I would highly recommend this Spain and Portugal with Trafalgar trip for anyone who wants to explore not only the major attractions of Spain and Portugal but also the hidden gems along the way.