Portugal and Spain Without Spreading Yourself Thin

Coming soon!

Combining Porto and the north of Portugal with the lush Galicia, Spain.

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Sidetrip from Madrid: Toledo

Coming soon!

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Sidetrip from Barcelona: Dalí Museum

Part of the Outside

Quick, name a Spanish artist! If you said Dalí, good job (although Gaudi is also an acceptable answer… but not the one I’m looking for)! This surrealist painter is synonymous with Spain so why not take a sidetrip to see his works at the Dalí Museum in his hometown of Figueres. Actually, if you have enough time, you HAVE TO go.

About 1h45 minutes away by Catalunya express train or 2 hours away with the regional train, the Dalí Museum houses the largest collection of his work and is, in itself, a work of art. Entry is 11 Euro. 8 for students and seniors. 

Thought-provoking, challenging, and mind-blowing are just some of the words I can think of to describe the works housed here. Built amid the ruins of an old theatre, his art is everywhere- inside, outside, part of the walls, on the floor and a glimpse at the celing reveals more and more creations as well. I’ve never seen anything like it! I promise you’ll feel the same way. He plays with perception, he plays with mediums/materials, he plays with depth and challenges what we know museums to be. True to Dalí, this place is unlike any other!!!

I can’t stress enough how AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING this site is. Don’t think of it as a museum, think of it as a wonderland. You’ll know what I mean once you see some pics. The highlight of my time there was the “Face of Mae West Which Can Be Used as an Apartment” work of art.

Give yourself a day for this. If you’re flexible with time, you can turn it into a 2 day excursion if you pair it and stay in beautiful Girona for a couple of nights. Dalí Museum in the small town of Figueres- DO IT! Visit http://www.salvador-dali.org/en_index.html for more information.

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EuroTrip ’10 Eats

Inspired by the last post about what I ate in the north of Spain- it occured to me that I have many more food pictures from the rest of my trip. I’ll include new and the ones posted in the previous entry. I was travelling with my sister… Keep in mind I didn’t take a pic of absolutely everything I ate… only when I remembered.

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Naxos, Greece: a Getaway From Your Getaway

Naxos- Portara of the Temple of Apollo

While some zip by to Ios or Santorini after having visited Mykonos, Naxos deserves a look. As the largest island in the Cyclades, it has a great coastline and a spread of villages to see. Let your first stop be Hora, the main town.

Besides customary cafes, bars and restaurants by the water like those found on many other islands, Naxos boasts a beautiful Venetian heritage that is still seen throughout Hora in the Kastro, the oldest area that sits above the town within the walls of what was once a castle/fortress with Venetian homes from the 13th century. Visit the Archeological Museum, Venetian Museum, or the Catholic Cathedral. Down below is the area of Burgos where the Greeks lived during this time. Be prepared to shop! I really liked the ironworks and jewelry!

If you’re staying in Hora, the most accessible beach is Agios Georgios. This sandy beach is the perfect option for families traveling with children- it’s not far from the hotels and restaurants and the water isn’t very deep. For something a little less crowded, travel  by bus 5km to Agios Prokopiosto where you can rent chairs and umbrellas or 7 to Agia Anna.

The Portara of Apollo, built in 522BC as the doorway of an unfinished temple of Apollo, is also a must-see in Naxos and best marvelled at during sunset. One of the things I love best about Naxos is the doorways!

Naxos Doorway

As one of Greek’s most fertile island, you’ll see here plenty of olive groves and vineyards. Trekking and hiking is excellent on the island; you’ll soon find yourself winding past old churches and orchards- just be sure to plan ahead as the island is large and bus access through certain towns may not match your own schedule. The towns of Apiranthos, whose citizens enjoy streets paved in marble, and Filoti, with its whitewashed houses cradled along the hillside, are worth a look.

Unlike some other places, Naxos isn’t party central- it’s a place to truly enjoy Greek island life. Families, couples,  and the 40+ set are likely to enjoy this island most of all.

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Can’t get enough- Nafplio and Mycenae, Greece

A Venetian fortress on a hill,  testament to Nafplio’s long history and prime waterfront position, greets visitors of this charming port town as a fortressed islet, the Bourtzi,  keeps watch in the distance. 

As hoards of people visit Greece every summer, Nafplio, Greece’s first  capital, is  barely a blip on the radar for some, especially us North American travelers. All the more incentive to go! One of the reasons is because, as part of the Peloponnese, its mainland status is sidestepped for the famed islands but it doesn’t have any less charm… just less beaches.

Narrow, winding streets work their way through the town past Venetian homes and neoclassical buildings- those who know the beauty of Crete will appreciate the parallels in atmosphere and pace- especially with the flowers and waterfront bars and cafes!

Only 3 hours away from Athens, Nafplio is an ideal side-trip for a couple of days. Its frequent bus connections to Athens makes it easy to travel to, although I’d suggest visiting during the week if you want to avoid a crush of Athenians enjoying their time off on the weekend.

A few musts:

Look up every once in a while, there’s flowers from  balconies that stretch from one side of a passage to clear across the way!

Walk aimlessly through the streets and lanes of this pretty town. Inevitably, you’ll find your way back to the town’s main square, Syntagma, whose surroundings include an Archeological Museum and a parliament building. There’s the cutest jewelry and souvenir shops and nice restaurants along the way- it’s especially nice to dine off a small side street on a beautiful night. Try anything with eggplant in it! Have a few drinks by the waterfront, too.

 If you’re visiting Nafplio for a longer haul, check out the ruins of Mycenae, home of Agamemnon, a short bus ride away.

The most important attraction is the ‘Lion Gate’ (1250BC)- described as one of the oldest monumental sculptures in Europe, it is above the gateway to what was once a citadel. You can read more about it here: http://tiny.cc/jwe1n and click through the site for more on the following:

The Treasury of Atraeus- a beehive-like tomb, and the tomb of Clytemnestra, as well as a cistern you can walk down down into (but there’s absolutely nothing in there and you need light…) are some other points of interest.  The rest of the time you’re in Mycenae, be warned that you’ll find yourself looking at foundations of this bronze age citadel and filling in the blanks.

If you’re not into that thing, it might be a very long day for you… but I really liked it! There’s a museum too!

I’d especially recommend Nafplio to the 40+

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Athens Excursion: Day trip to Hydra

A look at Hydra (pic from hotelmistral.gr)


If you’re in Athens for a few days and find yourself archeologically exhausted but don’t have time to go down to one of the famous islands and relax, make your way to the port of Piraeus and hop on the first hydrofoil to Hyra (pronounced E-dra). This small island is located just a 45 minute ride away.

Houses clustered up a hill facing the sea welcome visitors as they take to strolling the lanes. Noticeably absent are… cars! That’s right. Besides emergency and some construction vehicles, cars are prohibited on the island! I don’t know where they’d fit them anyway. NO CARS! I’m so happy I went.

It’s perfect for just an afternoon.  Where else in such a popular European country will you see sacs of bricks being saddled onto a donkey for a construction project? Where does a donkey in these countries carry crates of Coca Cola to bars, stores, and restaurants?

Nowhere but Hydra! 

I saw a man load a fridge onto one. I’m not even joking. A fridge! Hydra, well worth an afternoon if you’ve already seen what Athens is all about and want to unwind for the day.

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