Page 3 of Dospalmas Travel Blog Posts

Today we travelled again by train to Madrid. From our home in San Lorenzo de El Escorial it is an easy, comfortable, and inexpensive 1 hour trip to the city centre. Upon arrival we boarded a hop on-hop off bus for a tour of the city. We first toured most of the historic city centre, then got off and had a coffee at a nice street cafe. Then we took a walk through a park to the Royal Palace and its gardens, before re-boarding the bus. We finished the historic city tour, and then switched lines to tour the modern city. It was a great way to get an overview of the city's and, given that it is very hot, it was much less exhausting. After our tours, we returned to the train for our comfortable ... read more
 Madrid downtown
Coffee and carrot cake!
Statue near the palace

Today we were up early to get Allison and Patrick to the train station in El Escorial. It was a very sad good bye as we had a wonderful time traveling with them. From the train station we stopped in San Lorenzo for a coffee and pastry and also to pick up a few groceries before heading home. We enjoyed a quiet morning with our feet up before heading out for a walk below the monastery. After the monastery we continued into San Lorenzo to make Jim a haircut appointment for Friday morning. It was a pretty quiet house without Allison and Patrick, but hopefully we will get caught up on our travel blog!... read more
View of El Escorial Monastery from San Lorenzo plaza
Walk below Monastery
Jim ready to take another photo

Today we are off on a 45 minute train ride to the beautiful city of Madrid. Madrid is the capital and largest city in Spain with a population in the city of roughly 3.3 million and with a metro area population of almost 6.5 million. Madrid is best known for its great cultural and artistic heritage but also boasts some of the liveliest nightlife in the world. On arrival at the main train station in Madrid Allison and Patrick purchased train tickets to Malaga for the next day. Unfortunately tomorrow they will be leaving us as the following day they fly back to Canada. We have had a wonderful time traveling with the two of them and they will be missed. After the train station we found a coffee spot in a pretty area where we ... read more
Our view at coffee
Cute washroom sign
Great architecture

Today is Jim's birthday and we are off to visit the historic city of Segovia. Our first stop is the 1,000 year old royal palace the Alcazar of Segovia which was the former home of kings and queens. The Alcazar looks like a typical fairy tale palace, but it has actually seen many battles and wars. We enjoyed touring and learning about the history of this well preserved castle. From the castle we wandered through the narrow cobblestone street to a square which had an amazing view of the Segovia Cathedral. Before touring the cathedral we stopped and enjoyed a pizza for lunch. Segovia Cathedral, dating back to 1525, is the last true Gothic cathedral in Spain. The sheer size of the cathedral is startling, as well as its many naves and chapels. The final site ... read more
The Alcazar of Segovia
Jim listening to his audio guide

This morning we caught a 4 am taxi to the airport in Porto. We are flying with RyanAir for our flight to Madrid. On this flight Jim had to book a separate seat just for his guitar! RyanAir is a no frills airline, but they were on time and the plane was clean. We were met at the airport by Pablo, the exchange home owner of where we will be living for the next week. He drove us to his lovely home in Madrid and there he and his wife Gema offered us a coffee. Once coffee was done we jumped into one of their vehicles which we will be using for the next week and followed them to their second home in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. It is a big beautiful home on a ... read more
El Escorial Monastery/Palace
One of the many courtyards
Another courtyard shot

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto June 3rd 2017

We went for breakfast and coffee, and headed out for another tour of the city. We walked up Se Cathedral, and then headed out onto the upperdeck of the Ponte Dom Luis I. From here we enjoyed a fabulous view of the river and the old city, crossing to the south bank and back. We then boarded the No. 22 tram for a ride across the city. Then it was off to the Palacio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange) for a tour that we had booked earlier. This old palace is a beautiful building, with a very nice old courtroom, and a stunning Moorish-styled ballroom. We then had a rest while A&P did some shopping. In the evening we went out for a nice meal of Portuguese dishes. Without knowing it, Jim ordered a "Francesinha", which is ... read more
View from Se Church
A view of Porto from Se Church
Crossing Ponte Dom Luis I

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto June 2nd 2017

Today we doing our own walking tour of Porto. First stop is the famous Lello Bookstore which is considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. We had to book advanced tickets for it, because it is so popular. It was really amazing to see but too overcrowded to really enjoy it. Then we walked up past Carmo Church with its striking facade of azulejos (blue and white painted tiles) adorning its outside walls. As we wandered through the streets we came upon the beautiful square at Avenida dos Aliados. There we admired magnificent architecture of the buildings surrounding it. We walked on past the very old Church of Saint Ildefonso and then Chapel of Souls both with lovely azulejo tiles. Bolhao Market, which dates back to 1850, was next on our list to ... read more
Inside Lello Bookstore
Pat at the bookstore

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto June 1st 2017

Today we are off by train to Portugal's second largest city, Porto, which lies north of Lisbon. After our three hour train ride we arrived mid afternoon at the central train station in Porto. We had a short walk downhill to our rooftop apartment with great views of the city. Once we dropped off our luggage we headed out for an early dinner. Allison chose a vegetarian restaurant which was nice. We then wandered through some of the narrow streets to a viewpoint overlooking the Douro River. Allison and Patrick stopped there for a drink and we continued back to our apartment. We enjoyed watching the amazing night lights turn on throughout the city and across the river.... read more
Jim's Chili veggie burger
Side street in Porto
Clock tower

Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Lisbon May 31st 2017

Up early as today we are off to the town of Sintra. Sintra is a picturesque Portuguese town that is set amidst the pine-covered hills of the Serra de Sintra. This hilly and slightly cooler climate enticed the nobility and elite of Portugal, who constructed exquisite palaces, extravagant residences and decorative gardens. We boarded a train for the 45 minute journey. Once in Sintra town we caught a bus to our first destination, Quinta da Regaleira palace, which is a decorative stately home but for us the main attraction was the elaborate grounds. The gardens are filled with mystic symbolism and hidden features which include secret tunnels, Gothic towers and stone fortified walls. Our first objective was to get to the Initiation Well before it got to busy with other tourists. The well is 27 metres ... read more
From the top of the Initiation Well

Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Lisbon May 30th 2017

Up and ready to enjoy our first full day in Lisbon. We boarded tram 28 just outside our apartment and headed for Commercial Square to catch another tram to the Belem area of Lisbon. We had a quick breakfast at an outdoor cafe before heading to the long line ups outside the Monastery of Jerónimo. The Monastery is one of the most decorative churches of Portugal. The southern entrance is bounded by a 32 meter high stone portal that incorporates carvings of the saints, complex shaped pinnacles and other decorative features. Inside the spindly columns support massive vaulted ceilings and lead to an ornamental altar. The fine stone detail extends into the monastery, which is to the rear of the church and is centered around a unique two level cloister. After the initial construction of the ... read more
Monastery Jeronimos

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