Itinerary for Portugal and Spain 2016

Lisbon and Spain • March 2016 / 1

Mar. 11, 2016 • Friday
Leave Los Angeles at 3:10 p.m. on Lufthansa

March 12, 2016 • Saturday
Arrive Frankfurt, Germany at 11:05 a.m. the next morning
Change Planes. Connect time in Frankfurt, DE (FRA) is 2 hours 15 minutes.
Lv. Frankfurt at 1:20 p.m. on TAP Portugal
Arrive in Lisbon, Portugal at 3:25 p.m
Total Travel Time: 16 hr 15 mins.

LisSpainAirTravel_13March 13-16 • Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed (a.m) • Lisbon, Portugal
Hotel Olissippo Saldanha
Av. Praia da Vitória 30, Lisboa, Portugal

March 16, Wednesday • Travel to Seville
Leave Lisbon at 8:10 a.m. on TAP Portugal
Arrive Seville, Spain at 10:20 a.m.
Flight time: 1 hr. 10 mn.

SevillaMarch 16- 18 Wed p.m., Thurs, Fri am • Seville
Hotel Amadeus
Calle Farnesio 6 y calle San Jose, 10
Barrio de Santa Cruz, 41004 Seville, Spain

March 18 Fri p.m. Travel to Cordoba
Leave Sevilla (Santa Justica Train Station) at 12:50 p.m.
Arrive Cordoba train station 1:35 p.m.

CordobaMarch 18 Fri • Cordoba
Las Casas de la Juderia
C/Tomás Conde, 10, Cordoba, 14004 Spain

March 19 Sat a.m. Travel to Granada
Leave Cordoba at 11:27 a.m.
Arrive at Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station at 11:55 a.m. (in the middle of nowhere)
Leave Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station at 12:15
Arrive Granada 1:30 p.m.
Overall travel is 2 h. 3 min. (1 hour of it is bus)

GranadaGranada Saturday March 19 afternoon-Sunday afternoon March 20
Hotel: Room Mate Leo
C/ Mesones, 15 18001 – Granada, Spain

March 20, Sunday—Visit to Alhambra Nasrid Reservation @ 9:30 a.m.

MadridMarch 20, Sunday Travel to Madrid
Leave Granada “train” station at 2:45 p.m
Arrive Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station at 4:00 p.m.
Change from bus to train in Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station
Leave Antq S.Ana 4:23
Arrive in Madrid 6:40 at Madrid Puerta de Atocha [Madrid P.A.]
Metro to El Sol station near our hotel

March 20-22 Sunday-Monday • Madrid
Hotel Victoria 4
Calle de la Victoria 4
Puerta del Sol, 28012 Madrid, Spain

BarcelonaMarch 22, Tuesday • Travel to Barcelona
Leave Madrid (Madrid P.A.) at 5:30 p.m.
Arrive in Barcelona (Sants) 8:40 p.m.
Take Metro to hotel

March 22-25, Tuesday to Saturday am • Barcelona,
Hotel Praktik Bakery
Provenca, 279, 08037 Barcelona, Spain

March 26, 2015, Saturday
Leave Barcelona, Spain at 6:00 a.m. on Lufthansa
Arrive Frankfurt, Germany at 8:20 a.m.
Change Planes. Connect time in Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) is 1 hr. 50 min
Lv. Frankfurt at 10:10 am on Lufthansa
Arrive Los Angeles, CA at 1:50 p.m. and try to remember where car is
Total Travel Time is 15 hr. 50 mins.

Dubrovnik, Croatia Beguiles

(This is the first post of our trip to Croatia, Slovenia and Budapest in June-July 2014.)
Thursday, June 17

Dubrovnik from plane_1

After a long flight from Los Angeles to Munich, and then from Munich to Dubrovnik, we were happy to see from our airplane windows the coast of Croatia.

Dubrovnik from plane_2

Having viewed maps and photos and watched video after video, I recognized the walled city immediately and pointed it out to Dave, equally jetlagged and groggy.  We were happy to arrive after months of planning (car rental made in September of 2013, fully eight months earlier–this long-range planning would give us some troubles at certain points), and finally see that city that everyone is crazy about.

Dubrovnik Airport

Our plane landed and they wheeled the exit stairs up to our plane.  We walked across a street to enter the terminal.  Given that we had to give the name of our firstborn child and submit to search, Xray and seizure in major city airports, the casual approach they took toward airline security (probably there, but just invisible to us) was interesting.  In the small terminal we found the ATM, bought our tickets and waited on the hot bus for a seemingly long time (probably only 15 minutes) before we drove into Dubrovnik, about 20 minutes away from the airport.  I thought the terrain looked like home–Southern California–with its rocky and sparsely vegetated hills; stands of flowers (hollyhocks and others) waved in the airport bus breeze as we rushed by.

No matter which weather forecast we looked at, rain was in our future.  We were just hoping to get in some good touristing before we were kept indoors, so were happy to see the sun.  “Sun!” we said, turning to smile at each other.  “Sun!” we repeated, like the babbling, sleep-starved and hungry tourists we were.  “Sun!” became the morning watch-cry, alternating occasionally with “Rain” (this one said with drooping shoulders, and search for the umbrellas).


The bus dropped us just outside the Pile Gate, an entrance to the west.  Clutching our printed directions, we were to walk the main street, the Stradun, turn right at some other street, walk past the named pizza place, find the green door (or was it blue?) and ring the bell.

Pile Gate_Dubrovnik

Start by following the tourists. . .

Dubrovnik-tourists arrive

. . .all while rolling our suitcases, toting our extra bag and never wiping the smiles off our faces.


The limestone pavement was shiny with use.  Nearly everything inside the walled city is pedestrian-zoned, where the tourists (sometimes up to nine cruiseship-loads, plus the rest of us) reign.  I did read that in the early morning, cars come in from the old Eastern gate making deliveries, but only once did we see a car inside the city, and that was branded with a TV-radio station logo.  A nice lady helped us make the correct right turn and on our second green door, we hit the spot.  (I never did take a photo of that door.)  The landlord met us, and as he huffed our two rolling suitcases up four flights of stairs, I found out that his wife’s family owns the building, his mother-in-law had the apartment across from ours on the top floor, that the lower part of the building was over two-hundred years old, and that I was going to hate going up and down the stairs every day.  We got settled, hung up some our clothes in the closets, and then went down four flights of stairs to find dinner.

Slot View of Cathedral

Dubrovnik Carrot Door

I have a predilection for wandering, especially in places where Dave is nearby so that we can point out (or take a photo of) the new and interesting, the unusual and the something-you-won’t-see-at-home.  Sometimes the identification of that last category is often followed by a “well, why isn’t it found at home?”  We take pictures not only to identify, but to capture the idea…and the moment.  These are age-old habits of tourists, and the new social media enhances this impulse with quick uploads to a photo-viewing site and a brief comment to provide some context: #dubrovnik #croatia were my most common tags on Instagram those first few days.  Often we were juggling both our iPhone and our regular snapshot camera, using each for their particular qualities.

Dubrovnik Doorway

This doorway reminded us of Munich’s Ocktoberfest, only Munich would have live garland interwoven with blue checked ribbon.  I think this had been here all summer.  And that is another thing we do — relate what we see with our new, fresh tourist eyes to previous travel memories.

Dubrovnik Outdoor Cafe

Dubrovnik World Cup1

World Cup viewing.  Nearly every cafe in every square, and many restaurants, had a big-screen plasma television going just about 24/7.

Pred Dvorum Durbrovnik

Pred Dvorum street, which parallels ours.  Behind us is the Cathedral and on the right side is a museum and City Hall (under the arcade’s arches).

St Blaise Dubrovnik_1

At the end of that street we enter Luza Square, anchored by St. Blaise Church.

ESE on Hunt for dinner Dubrovnik


On a popular traveling website I’d written down some restaurant recommendations, and of course it was on the other side of this bowl-shaped town.

View back towards Luza Square Dubrovnik

Looking down the steps back towards Luza Square.

Dubrovnik Restaurant

We found the restaurant–under new ownership–so kept looking.  I know what you are thinking.  How could we pass up this place, tucked underneath this cute little church?  We did.

Prijecko Street Dubrovnik

Behind us was the “restaurant” street, Prijecko Street, and it beckoned because Dave likes to explore several options before settling in to one place.  We call it the “restaurant street,” because we tended to give nicknames to locations, as we found the Croatian unpronounceable even though we tried to wrap our tongues around the words.


Dubrovnik_8 seating on steps

 If we’d tried to sit and eat dinner here, we would have both fallen asleep. . . or eaten the cushions first.  I think this was more of a bar.

Dubrovnik Strolling Musicians

These musicians started at one of the street and kept moving along, looking for the big tippers.  We were still trying to figure out if we had the right kind of money, kuna, with 5.5 of them equal to one dollar.

Dubrovnik_6 water bottle

One thing we dislike about Europe in general is their refusal to bring out tap water for our glasses. (This is how you learn that not every city in the world is like your city.)  The water has to be purchased and they charge tourists excessively for the privilege of having something to drink with their meal, if you don’t want a glass of wine (we didn’t).  One waiter tried to tell me that the water wasn’t good, especially after a rainstorm (right–and that’s why they let the tourists drink out of the fountains). But I took delight in the current logo being offered up by one water company, Jana, with their Croatian World Cup Soccer spirit.  The Croatian game, our landlord warned us, was to be played the next night–at midnight–and the pizza guy downstairs had already “invited the youths of the city” to come and join him for a wild and crazy party in the square below our windows.

“It will be loud,” the landlord warned.

We smiled and said, “How fun!”


Dave’s meal–a pasta with some kind of meat sauce.


My meal: prawns with lettuce garnish.  We demolished the bread basket, ate all of the garnish.  We also ate all of the shrimp but were less than delighted with the Mediterrean way of serving them with their shells on.  You have to work for your supper this way.  It’s always a challenge when ordering your meal in a foreign country, as often what you order bears no resemblance to what you think you’ll be receiving.  We sort of have a little contest determining which person had the better meal every night.  Tonight, Dave won.


Our sobe, or room, is marked on the map above with a blue circled X, just off Gundulic Square Stari Grad means Old Town.  We ate sort of directly above the black number 7 (above the “R” in Grad), on the restaurant street.  We didn’t feel like heading home, trying to stay up as long as possible to get on the new (+9 hours) schedule, so we walked the length of the restaurant street, where we discovered that pretty much every special at every restaurant was about the same as ours, and just as overpriced.  The street was narrow, filled with tables, first on the right side of the street and then on the left.  It’s one flight of stairs up from the Stradun, so down every side street we had views of the main street.  We were also walking, waiting until all the launches had carried the cruise-ship passengers back to their ships and the city emptied out.

Dubrovnik Steps up to top

Dubrovnik_11 Pile Gate1

We headed toward Pile Gate (pronounced Pee-lay).

Dubrovnik--just inside Pile Gate

There is an outer gate in the walls, and an inner doorway to the left side of this open area, a wide-open space which is perfect for impromptu art shows and musicians.

Dubrovnik_musicians near Pile Gate

Dubrovnik_11a Pile Gate2

The double-columned balustrade reminded us of Italy.

Dubrovnik_outside Pile Gate

Outside, there are small gardens flanking the walkway through the gate, with views of the Adriatic Sea and Boker Gate on the old City Wall (left).  The red umbrellas to the right of the photo are a restaurant, Dubravka, where we ate the next two nights.

Bokar Tower_Dubrovnik

Adriatic Seascape

Pile Gate Guards

The tourist board has hired two young teen boys to act as sentries for several hours every night.  Young women liked to pose with them, and when no one was looking, they’d slump slightly on the top rail of the fencing.  A small statue of St. Blaise watches over them.  St. Blaise, according to legend, saved the town with his warnings that the Venetian Navy was set to attack the town.

Pile Gate through balustrade Dubrovnik

The inner doorway…with St. Blaise.

Dubrovnik_10 foot on stoneApparently if a young man can balance on this stone water spout while taking off his shirt, they’ll have good luck.  And a broken keister.  Dave thought stepping on it was good enough, and I agreed.

Dubrovnik_9 Franciscan Mon

It was just outside this beautifully restive doorway of the Franciscan Monastery.  Everything looked calm in the waning evening night.



Francisan Monastery Doorway

Onofrios Big Fountain_Dubrovnik

Right across from the Monastery is St. Onofrio’s Big Fountain.  All those faces have water pipes coming from them.  Twelve faces, twelve pipes.  Because the weather was always threatening rain (and occasionally delivered on its promise), the air was slightly muggy, yet we didn’t have scorching heat waves to deal with (where the water from the fountain would have come in handy).

Fancy Purse in Window

Window shopping along the Stradun.  Braccialini had some interesting handbags.

fancy purse in window real

Fancy Purse

I looked it up when I arrived home.  That’s right.  It’s $1751.00. That’s SEVENTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS, and change.

stradun late evening

The light was starting to turn, the streets were emptying out and the fatigue of the journey was beginning to hit hard.  Just a few more minutes, we thought.  We ducked in and out of gelato/ice cream shops without buying any, saw red-checked item after red-checked item (the red checkerboard is a centerpiece of the Croatian flag), people watched.  And then that amazing European cerulean sky crept in over the city, making it all seem bejeweled and sparkling.

Stradun_2 night scene bell tower

Stradun 3_night scene darker

Stradun7_filling up

The people start to gather: to eat dinner (more tables have been put out on the Stradun, umbrellas and awnings raised), for drinks, and to watch World Cup games.  And to wander, just like us.


Stradun5_St Blaise

The Church of St. Blaise at night.

Stradun5_bell tower 850

The bell tower clock dial reflects only the hour, reiterated below in the left window by the Roman Numeral.  The right window gives the minutes, but only in five-minute increments.

Stradun8_St Blaise

We leave the crowds under St. Blaise and climb the four flights of stairs up to our sobe.

Gundulic Square_night

One last look out the window, into Gundulic Square below.  We leave the windows open to catch the cool air, and call it a day.

Burano, of Many Colors

 Italy 2012, continued

Murano and Burano Map

We leave from the Fondamente Nova vaparetto stop, which is on the backside of the main islands, and head straight out past Venice’s cemetery, on an island all its own.  First stop is Murano (glass making) with our final destination for the day Burano (lace making).

Cemetario wall

We join the throngs of other tourists, load up (we race to the back to get an outdoor seat) and head out past the cemetery, on its own island.

ESE DAE trip

We’d first been to Burano in 2009, when on a tour with our friends to Murano, then Burano.  But the tour guide was in cahoots with the glass-making people and we spent an inordinate amount of time captive in the glass maker’s shop, and only 20 minutes on Burano.  We wanted to reverse that today.

Ferrying supplies to Venice

Deliveries–everything’s by boat.

Murano fornace1

We approach Murano and its “furnaces,” or fornaio.  Each building is a different glass maker.  Murano also is a series of islands like Venice , albeit a smaller cluster.

Murano vaparetto

We are going on to Burano, a fishing village, or so the story goes.  They also make lace here, a dying art, as it’s time-intensive and the best kind is done by hand.  We land in Burano, and everyone gets off the boat.  Most head straight ahead, but at our first opportunity, we take a left, away from the crowds.  When we were here before, we were captivated by the colorful houses–technicolor, brilliantly painted houses.  The tour guide that time told us that it was a way for the fishermen to find their way back home in the fog, since there has been fishing there since the 6th century.  But now Wikipedia notes that “the colours of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development; if someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot.”

Whatever the original reason, the houses are like being in another world.  This post is mostly just pictures of these houses, as there’s really nothing I know about them. I could tell you someone famous lives here or there (and they probably do), but if I’d known that would it have changed how we interacted with this amazing colorful island?  I think not.  So, scroll, quickly or slowly, and enjoy the houses of Burano.

Burano 1

Burano 2

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Burano 52

Now, doesn’t it make you want to head to Home Depot and repaint your house?  We were saved from that urge by the fact that we’d done it last year.  Around every corner was a new sight, a new color.  We saw the young man on his scooter, and Dave helped two lost Asian tourists who were trying to find their way to the vaparetto.  We wanted to get lost, so were relieved not to see crowds.

Burano Acqua Alta barriers

The acqua alta barriers (flooding of high water) on their doorways were really high, and we found the one below pretty interesting, marking the years the aqua alta was highest.

Burano acqua alta markings

The fact that we’d arrived during “siesta” probably accounted for the deserted streets, as we could hear the sounds of dishes and people talking inside their houses, but no one was around.

Burano canal 1

We turned right and here seemed to be a main canal.  The reflections of the houses on the water captivated us; please enjoy endure the following similar photos as I couldn’t choose just one.

Burano canal 2

Burano canal 3

Burano canal 4

Burano canal 5


Burano arch

Burano DAE ESE

A young couple walked by and we snagged them for our Christmas card photo.  Believe me, I was dying to digitally erase those white dots, but I restrained myself.  If I had really thought I would put this on our Christmas card, I might have put on some lipstick or something. Dave always looks good.

Burano lacemaker 1

We cross over the bridge and down the other side is a woman who is working on making lace by hand.  I’m sure this piece will sell for thousands in the shops.  We avoided the shops because, after reading Brunetti, we’ve learned that most of the lace goods come from Asia.  I would have loved to have taken a completed piece of real Burano lace home with me, but I’ll have to be content with this photo.

Burano lacemaker 2

Burano lacemaker 3

Burano washing lines

What I loved about this photo was the way the washing lines were propped up mid-square with two sticks.

Dave in Burano

The fabulous Dave.

Shrine 11

shrine 12

I think this shrine on Burano was one of my favorites: the blue wall, the tiled Saint Fatima, the white flowers in the green box.  Perfect.

shrine 13

I also liked this one–these colors were magnificent.  We were really glad it was a bright sunny day, for although we got shots of people’s laundry (including those black undies near the fuse box in the photos above), the sun lit up the houses like they were illuminated from within.

shrine 14

It was now late afternoon, and the Tourist Crankies were setting in because we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and regretfully forgotten our Emergency Granola Bars back in the hotel.  We were approaching the main town area and looked at several restaurants but then reconsidered because we wanted to beat the crush back to Venice so we could enjoy our last evening there.  We’d had such a lovely time by ourselves photographing the colorful houses, that we decided just to head for Venice.  There was a crush at the vaparetto stop, but we were early, so did get a seat on the way home.  I found one granola bar in the bottom of my backpack and we shared that, then we both dozed on the way home, awoken when a rogue wave splashed in through the vaparetto windows, drenching the couple next to me.  I didn’t get wet at all.

cemetario church 2

I was able to get a better photograph of the church part of the cemetery this time, the whole building glowing in the setting sun.

Cemetario church

Venice Cemetary brick wall

Cemetary walls 3

Rowers in Gondola

Gondola practice?

Sculpture Men in Boat

Then there was this curious sculpture placed out in the lagoon as we neared Venice. The only thing I could find about it (in English) was that it was a representation of a poor fisherman saving Venice through the appearance of celestial visitors.  Or something.

Church Cannaregio

Back on Venice, we stopped for a small snack in a local shop, then walked home, passing this (closed) church.  Near our hotel is this water spigot/fountain that we mostly see filled with pigeons.

Venice Pigeon's bath

Water balloons

But today there were two boys, filling water balloons.



We refresh, but since we are still hungry, we head out, turning right onto the main drag up through Cannaregio, kind of like we are following their line of red dots (which is direction to Ca’ D’oro vaparetto stop, but in the same direction as we are headed).  Strada Nova is crowded, with shops still vending and people still shopping, a real party and lively atmosphere.  We stop to buy some chocolates to take back with us and some torrone (but it’s not as good as the one by San Zaccharia).

Venice Evening Day2

This was a view down one side canal toward the Grand Canal.  We keep going, cross a few more bridges, then wander off to the right, up over two small bridges and see a small restaurant on the canal.


Out front there’s a guy out front in a spiffy suit, hawking to tourists — hawking to people just like us, who are tired and hungry and ready to eat even though it’s not even six o’clock in the evening and a real Venetian wouldn’t be caught dead sitting down to dinner.  Of course there was the chalkboard with the requisite three courses, the menu with the six languages.  We shrug and say, why not.  It was a good choice.


First up, they bring us an aperitivo.  No thank you, we said, we don’t drink.  Shock.  Amazement. Incredulity.


Instead, a plate of some delicious polenta topped with bolognese sauce was brought to our table for a “starter.”


Dave had pasta with cheese, which looked like to me it was leftover spaghetti pressed into a mold, then cut and lightly baked, then broiled (?).  I think this is a good idea, especially if grilled vegetables are added to the plate, then a drizzle of vinegar.

TrattoriaMisercordiaVenicespicy spaghetti

My pasta course was spicy spaghetti with vegetables.  I had never thought to ramp up the spiciness on spaghetti before, but it was delicious.


We both chose the salmon, again, with grilled vegetables.  And the Italian way — the salad at the end of the meal (below).


He tried to offer us an after-dinner drink again, but again, we declined.  No dessert? He asked?  No, I said.  I prefer to have some chocolate.


So they brought us each this delicious treat, on the house.

TrattoriaMisercordiaVeniceowner and ESE

We really enjoyed talking to the owner, as we were the only ones in the restaurant for most of the meal.  He grew up in Venice, but after marrying, moved to Maestre, but still runs the family business.  We talked about the aqua alta (he was in early that morning, sweeping out, vacuuming, washing down our tables and chairs), as this was his livelihood.  I’d go there again in a heartbeat, as the food was delicious (and the owner spoke English).  He said he moved out to Maestre because it was really hard to raise a family in Venice–not even a place to play soccer.  We say goodbye, but are not ready to say goodbye to Venice yet, so we hop onto a vaparetto and ride down the Grand Canal.

Red Building Grand Canal

This is when you know you are really on the Outside, Looking In.  It’s when you see a building on the Grand Canal all lit up in exotic red, with boats of the glitterati stepping up onto the private loading dock and entering this building.  It looked fabulous to all of us peons on the vaparetto.  Even the drivers were pointing at it.

Nighttime Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

Nighttime Venice Fish Maket

The Fish Market, after dark.  The action happens here in the early morning.

Nighttime Santa Maria della Salute

Santa Maria della Salute

We get off at San Zaccharia, buy our last wedge of torrone to take home, then walk slowly back to our hotel through the streets, and the happy tourists, and the business-like Venetians, back through the chilled air, Dave and I together in Venice for one last night.

Coming up: one more post before we say good-bye to Italy.