Mea Culpa

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Please forgive me for the lack of postings. For the last 2 weeks I have been doing nothing but eating, riding, more eating, more riding, even more eating, even more riding, eating again and then sleeping. It’s been exhausting. So, the highlights and lessons I have learned during my trip through Spain and Portugal are:

When in southern Spain, towns that are a must visit include: Malaga, Granada, Seville and Ronda. All beautiful cities in their own rights, some larger than others, but all beautiful.

When in southern Portugal, aside from a visit to Lisbon, you must also visit the town of Sintra: a former mountainside summer town for the rich and famous with the requisite castle on top of the mountain. On the drive from Lisbon to Sintra, you might as well make a stop at Cabo da Roca, the western most point of Europe. Be prepared, however, for the line-up of tourist buses puking out their passengers. If you want to blend in with the crowd of Chinese tourists, be sure to bring along a minimum of four cameras and take multiple pictures with each. I would NOT want to be one of the friends at home anxiously waiting to see their vacation photos. The friends should plan on a L O N G stay: best to bring snacks and a change of clothes.

My high school Spanish teacher, Miss Danielli, would be so proud of the utilization of my 3 ½ years of Spanish as a second language. I successfully got a haircut, shopped for a plug adaptor for Spain to US plugs and ordered tapas, along with individual plates, forks and beverages. All in Spanish (OK, broken pigeon Spanish) with people who spoke no English. The guy who cut my hair, also a motorcyclist, and I had a conversation of my travels and places he liked to ride and that, in fact no, I did not want my moustache trimmed.

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March is the PERFECT time of year to travel in southern Spain and Portugal. The weather was stunning and crowds were down as it is still considered the “Off season”.

Fried pig ears in spicy sauce are not nearly as tasty as they sound.

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Pastel de Belem, a small custard pastry from a Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon, are, on their own, worth a visit to Lisbon.

Never get in line behind a group of German tourists at a buffet. Knock over the elderly, infirmed and pregnant women as necessary in order to get to the front of the line. Once the Germans hit, the buffet will be wiped clean in a matter of minutes, including the garnish and that questionable piece of fruit.

Both Spanish and Portuguese food is not nearly as spicy as I had assumed. Most of it was dangerously approaching bland.

Bring along a Sharpie to correct the printed English translations at tourist sites. Although, it can be fun to try to figure out exactly what the translator was attempting to say: “Due to the natural and manmade causes the desertification of the land has increased. Life on the island exits in silence.” I thought my skin felt a bit dry and sensed a quiet exodus was afoot.

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Contrary to popular belief, the rain is Spain DOES NOT fall mainly on the plain.

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From a vantage point of many many miles away, I saw not only the tip of the Rock of Gibraltar, but also a snow capped peak of a mountain in Africa. Sarah Palin has nothing on me.

An electronic sign in Madrid indicated that the temperature today was -173o C (-279.4o F). I thought it was a bit chilly in the shade.

Burger

There is no better cure for a mild case of home sickness than alfresco dining on a hamburguesa especial.

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