Copenhagen, Hygge, and a day-trip to Sweden.

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I’m starting this entry before heading to the airport to catch my return flight to València, sitting curled up in the windowsill, gazing out the window while sipping café and having a Danish pastry. I don’t think you can get more hygge than that. Estoy empezando a escribir esta entrada antes de ir al aeropuerto para coger el vuelo de vuelta a València, sentando en el alféizar, contemplando el mundo afuera mientras tomo un café y un pastel danés. Creo que no se puede tener un momento más hygge. 

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I try to visit a new country every Easter holiday, and while Morocco was higher on my bucket list, I have been dying to go to Scandinavia. The direct flight from València to Copenhagen with RyanAir was cheaper, and so there it was. Intento visitar a un país nuevo cada Semana Santa, y mientras quería visitar Marreucos más, también tenía ganas de ir a Escandinavia. El vuelo directo desde València a Copenhagen con RyanAir era más barato, entonces, lo cogí. 

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Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a city of 606,057 people in the metropolitan area and dates back to the 10th century. I found the city to be a lot more modern than southern Europe, similar to a North American city. It does have a lot of history though. Copenhagen, la capital de Dinamarca, es una ciudad de 606.057 personas en el área metropolitano y se fundió en el Siglo X. Encontré la ciudad mucho más moderna que el sur de Europa, algo parecido a una ciudad norteamericana, aunque tiene mucha historia. 

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After having an hour delay due to computer problems in Brussels, I arrived to Copenhagen around 9 p.m. and caught the train to my MisterBNB’s place (an app similar to AirBNB for the gay community). The metro also connects the airport to the city. Después de un retraso de una hora dado a problemas técnicas en Bruselas, llegué a Copenhagen sobre las 21 y cogí el tren hasta el piso de MisterBNB (un app parecido a AirBNB para la comunidad gay. 

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On Wednesday, I did all the touristy things possible (and will write more at length on them soon). I saw The Little Mermaid, the Changing of the Guard at Amalienborg, Nyhavn, Rosenborg, the Round Tower, the Free Town commune of Christiana, and a lot of churches and plazas and such. El miércoles, hice todos las cosas más turísticas de la ciudad, (Luego, escribiré más sobre eso.) Vi La Sirenita, el Cambio de la Guardia en Amalienborg, Nyhavn, Rosenborg, el Torre Rotonda, el “Free Town” (pueblo libre) de Christiana, y muchas iglesias, plazas y tal. 

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Thursday, I went to Helsingor, population 61,519, to visit the Kronborg Castle, which was made famous due to something rotten in the state of Denmark, where a prince wondered…”To be, or not to be?” Yes, the castle where Hamlet takes place. Jueves, fui a Helsingor, población 61.519, para visitar el Castillo Kronborg, que es famoso dado a algo que huele a podrido en el reino de Dinamarca, donde un príncipe se preguntó “¿Ser o no ser? Sí, es el castillo donde tiene lugar Hamlet. 

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Friday I made my way to Lund and Malmö in Sweden. Lund is a university town of 88,788 full of beautiful old buildings. Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden with 341,457 people. Despite some interesting older buildings and plazas, it felt extremely modern. The skyscraper Turning Torso is the tallest building in Scandinavia and was designed by cantankerous Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. Viernes, fui a Lund y Malmö en Suecia. Lund es una ciudad universitaria de 88.788 personas que tiene muchos edificios antiguos y encantadores. Malmö es la tercera ciudad de Suecia con 341.457 personas. A pesar de unos edificios y plazas antiguos e interesantes, parecía muy moderna. El rascacielo Turning Torso es el edificio más alto de Escandinavia y fue designado por el arquitecto valenciano cascarrabias Santiago Calatrava. 

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Saturday was spent exploring the Norrebro district and seeing Hans Christian Anderson’s and Soren Kierkegaard’s graves. I returned to Nyhavn harbour and saw a few more things before buying my souvenirs and heading to the airport. Pasé el sábado explorando el barrio de Norrebro y viendo las tombas de Hans Christian Anderson y soren Kierkegaard. Volví al puerto de Nyhavn y después compré regalos y fui al aeropuerto. 

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And before heading to the airport, I took advantage of that hygge moment. When in Denmark, do as the Danish do. Antes de ir al aeropuerto, aproveché de tener un momento de hygge. Cuando en Dinamarca, haz como los daneses. 

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Of course, there was another delay of a half hour, this time to yet another French air-traffic controller strike. I swear, they’re in competition with the Metro of València to see who can strike more. Desde luego, había otro retraso de media hora, esta vez dado a otra huelga de los controladores de tráfico aéreo franceses. Creo que tienen una competición con el Metro de València para ver quien puede tener más huelgas. 

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It was an all too-short visit, but it was a good introduction to the Scandinavian countries. I hope to set foot in Iceland, Norway and Finland one day and return to explore Denmark and Sweden more. When I win the lottery. Era una visita demasiada corta, pero era una buena introducción a los països de Escandinavia. Espero ir a Islandia, Noruega y Finlandia un día y volver a explorar más Dinamarca y Suecia….cuando me toque el Gordo, claro. 

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I would have loved to hike Mollehoj, see Odense, and definitely explore Sweden a lot more, but I am grateful for what I did manage to see in just four days. Me hubiera encantado hacer una ruta de Mollejog, ver Odense, y explorar Suecia mucho más, pero estoy agradecido por lo que vi en solo cuatro días. 

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More detailed entries are on the way. Habrá entradas más detalladas pronto. 

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A continuación…

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Pompeii and Naples. Volcanos, Mafia and Pizza.

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It was a day like any other in 79 AD in Pompeii. People were at work, at school, meeting friends, watching gladiators fight, visiting the brothels or whatever they typical day was. Suddenly, that beautiful mountain Vesuvius that they admired so much started to behave strangely. Was that smoke? What’s lava? (The floor) Some people ran. Many people hid. The Roman town, population estimated between 11,000 and 11,500, was buried by the volcanic eruption. The denizens didn’t even know what a volcano was, let alone they were living 8 kilometres (5 miles) away from one. Era un día como cualquier en 79 d.C en Pompeya. La gente estaban trabajando, en el colegio, con amigos, viendo una lucha de gladiadores, vistiando los burdeles o cualquier cosa que hacen en su día típico. De repente, este montaña tan bonita Vesubio que admiraban tanto empezó  a comportarse raro. ¿Es humo? ¿Qué es lava? (El suelo). Algunas personas corrían. Muchas más escondían. La ciudad romana, con una población estimada de ser entre 11.000 y 11.500, estaba enterrado por la erupción volcánica. Los residentes ni sabían lo que eran un volcán, y menos que estaban viviendo a 8 kilómetros de uno. 

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Pompeii was a coastal city, but the volcano added three kilometres of land, according to the guide I had. There had been warnings, like an earthquake in 62 AD. However, they didn’t know what the warnings meant. The town was completely buried by ash and lava and forgotten about during centuries. The people who escaped didn’t want to say where they came from for fear the superstitious Romans wouldn’t allow them sanctuary if they knew they came from that cursed city. People forgot about it. Pompeya era una ciudad de la costa, pero el volcán agregó tres kilómetros más de tierra, según el guía que tenía. Había avisos antes, como el terremoto de 62 d.C. Sin embargo, no sabían que estaba diciendo los avisos como sabemos ahora. El pueblo estaba cubierto por completo por ceniza y lava y después olvidado durante siglos. Las personas que podían escapar no querían decir de donde vinieron porque pensaba que había una maldición y los romanos supersticiosos no iban a permitirles refugio si sabían que vinieron de este pueblo maldito. La gente se lo olvidaban por completo. 

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One day in 1599, while excavating to divert the Sarno River, Pompeii was discovered, preserved as it was in 79 AD, thanks to the petrification caused by the volcanic ash. Un día en 1599, mientras estaban excavando para desviar el Río Sarno, descubrieron Pompeya, preservado como era en el año 79 d.C., gracias a la petrificación causado por la ceniza volcánica. 

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Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that receives around 2.6 million visitors every year. Only 1/3 of the Roman town is open to visitors. Hoy en día es un Patrimonio de la Humanidad UNESCO que recibe unos 2,6 millones de visitantes cada año. Solo se puede visitar un tercero del pueblo romano. 

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As part of a day trip from Rome, I was able to visit the site one chilly  November morning. Our guide was very informative, and I was amazed as I walked through the town and learned a lot about the Roman history. Durante un viaje del día de Roma un día de noviembre fresquito, pude ver el sitio de Pompeya. Nuestro guía nos dijo bastante información, y me asombré mucho durante el paseo del pueblo romano y aprendí mucho sobre la historia de los romanos. 

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The most surprising thing I learned that they had a red-light district. Prostitution was big in Pompeii, thanks to its proximity to the sea (in those days). The arrows they followed were not yellow but extremely phallic in nature. Me dio un shock para aprender que había un barrio rojo en Pompeya. Había mucha prostitución en Pompeya dado a su proximidad al mar (en aquellos tiempos). Las flechas que siguieron no eran amarillos pero tenían forma fálico.

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Pompeii was also home of one of the oldest Colosseums. It was built pre-lions and tigers, so there aren’t any cages. The Romans were pretty savage. Pompeya también tiene uno de los Colosseos más antiguos. Fue construido antes de los leones y tigres luchaban y no había jualas. Los romanos eran salvajes.

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My favourite part, of course, was the Pompeii dog. Mi parte preferida, desde luego, era el perro de Pompeya. 

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The modern village Pompei has a population of 25,000 and is mainly touristic due to the archaeological site. El pueblo moderno de Pompeya tiene una población de 25.000 y es mayormente turístico dado al sitio arqueológico. 

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We were supposed to go to Positano after the morning in Pompeii. However, as it was November, the November rain had caused some flooding and mudslides, and the winding road to Positano was cut off. They took us to Naples instead. El plan era ir a Positano después de la mañana en Pompeya. Pero como era noviembre, la lluvia de noviembre provocó unas inundaciones y aludes de barro, y la carretera sinuosa a Positano era cortada. Entonces, nos llevó a Nápoles. 

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Naples (Napoli in Italian, whose original Greek name meant “New City) is the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan. Around 975,260 people live in the city limits. Due to its proximity to Vesuvius, and as Vesuvius has been sleeping since 1944, the next eruption, which is predicted to be as strong as the 79 AD eruption, could be disastrous. Italy does have an evacuation plan, though. Nápoles (Napoli en italiano, cuyo nombre en el griego original significa “ciudad nueva”) es la tercera ciudad italiana después de Roma y Milán. Sobre 975,260 personas viven dentro de los límites de la ciudad. Dado a su proximidad a Vesubio, y como Vesubio ha estado durmiendo desde 1944, la próxima erupción, que predicen que será tan fuerte como la erupción de 79 d.C, podrá ser un desastre. Italia tiene un plan de evacuación, pero…

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Naples is famous for being the home of pizza. The margherita pizza is named for a Queen and the toppings make the colour of the Italian flag. The Napolitan guide kept reminding us of that during the tour of the town. Nápoles es famoso por su pizza también. La pizza margarita es nombrada por una reina, y la pizza tiene los colores de la bandera italiana. La guía napolitana nos explicó eso durante todo la visita guiada de la ciudad. 

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Naples used to be Spanish until the War of Spanish Succession. Later, it was returned to Spanish rule (with a lot of strife. I’m giving you the Cliffs notes version) until the Unification of Italy in 1861. Nápoles era española hasta las guerras Carlistas. Después, volvió a ser española (con muchos cambios. Este es el resumen breve) hasta la Unificación de Italia en 1861. 

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Naples is also famous for mafia, and though the mafia action takes place away from the touristic centre, I was a bit nervous during the little free time we had. The monumental centre was nice, as were the views of the island Capri and the bay. Nevertheless, Naples wasn’t my favourite Italian city. (That would be Verona!) Nápoles también es famoso por la mafia, y aunque la mafia suele hacer sus negocios fuera del centro turístico, estaba nervioso durante el poco tiempo libre que tuvimos. Los monumentos por el centro estaban chulos, y también las vistas de Capri y la bahía. Sin embargo, Nápoles no era mi ciudad italiana preferida. (Es Verona.)

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I’m not a fan of organised tours like this one, but 2 of the 3 guides were very informative (the Naples guide would have been good for children, as she treated us like children, or like a sheepdog herding sheep). I got the tour for my mom, but in the end, she wasn’t able to go due to her inability to walk well. I’m glad I went to Pompeii, and I’m glad I got to see Naples. No me gustan muchos las visitas guiadas organizadas como esta, pero 2 de los 3 guías sabían mucho (la guía de Nápoles estaría bien para dar guías a niños, como nos trató, o como un perro pastor arreando sus ovejas). La visita guiada era para mi madre, pero al final no pudo ir dado a no pudo caminar bien. Me alegro haber ido a Pompeya, y me alegro haber visto Nápoles. 

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However, as an introvert, I would have loved to have had time to explore a bit on my own. Or at least have done the tour that included a hike to the top of Vesuvius! Sin embargo, como un introvertido, me habría encantado un rato para explorar por mi solo ¡o al menos haber hecho el guía que incluye una ruta hasta la cima de Vesubio!

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36 Hours in Lugo.

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Located in Galicia in the northwest of Spain, Lugo is a fascinating province capital with a lot to offer visitors…especially tapas. Ubicado en Galicia en el noroeste de España, Lugo es una capital de provincia fascinante con mucho ofrecer a los visitantes…especialmente tapas. 

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Lugo is a city of 98,560 people and is most famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Roman Walls. It’s the only city in the world to have completely intact Roman Walls. The walls are 10-15 metres high (33-49 feet) and the walk around the town on top of the walls is 2.1 km. There are 71 towers with 10 gates. Lugo es una ciudad de 98.560 personas y es conocido por sus murallas romanas que son UNESCO Patrimonio de la Humanidad. Es la única ciudad del mundo para tener murallas que son completas e intactas. Las murallas tienen 10-15 metros de altura y la ruta por arriba de las murallas es 2,1 km. Hay 71 torres con 10 puertas. 

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There is also a Roman bridge over the Minho River worth checking out. It’s along the Camino Primitivo. I was so jealous of the pilgrims I saw as I was ending my Camino. También hay un puente romano que cruce el Río Minho que vale la pena ver. Es parte del Camino Primitivo. Me daban envidia los peregrinos que vi como ya había acabado mi Camino por ahora. 

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I arrived to the beautiful city around 8 pm on a Tuesday in July. My AirBNB was fantastic, although a bit far from the centre of town. It was definitely walkable though. Llegué a la ciudad bonita sobre las 8 en un martes de julio. Mi AirBNB era genial, aunque estaba un poco lejos del centro de la ciudad. No daba ningún problema en caminar. 

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I had dinner cheaply in the Casco Antiguo. They give you huge tapas for free with your drink order (in the morning, most places do it even with your coffee). Tapas are not well-known in the north of Spain, so it was an unexpected treat. Cené en un sitio bueno, bonito y barato por el Casco Antiguo. Te dan tapas grandes gratis con una bebida (por la mañana, la mayoría de los sitios te la dan con tu café.) El norte de España no es conocido por sus tapas, y era un trato que no esperaba. 

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Wednesday morning I awoke to the bad news that I had lost my job for unknown reasons. This put a damper on the visit, but I tried to raise my head up high and enjoy the town and not worry about what I was going to do. El miércoles por la mañana, me desperté a las malas noticias que he perdido mi trabajo para razones desconocidos. Me estropeó la visita, pero intenté ser positivo y olvidarmelo para disfrutar la ciudad y no preocuparme del futuro. 

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I had breakfast and found my way to the bridge, getting lost (somewhat on purpose) in a nearby park. When I arrived to the bridge, I was amazed by its beauty. I’ve read about the Minho River, and I was finally seeing it for myself. I later stopped at the café next door before heading back up to town. Desayuné y encontré el puente, aunque me perdí (quizás no era sin querer) en un parque cercano. Cuando llegué al puente, me fascinó su belleza. He leído mucho del Minho y por fin estaba viendolo en directo. Después, paré en el café a lado antes de volver a la ciudad.

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I went to the Cathedral of Lugo, which was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. It was partially destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. It was quite the impressive visit. Fui a la Catedral de Lugo, que fue construido en los siglos XII y XIII. Una parte era destruido en el seísmo de Lisboa en 1755. Era una visita impresionante. 

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It was time to explore the walls. I walked around the city on top of the walls, loving every moment. Ya era hora de explorar las murallas. Caminé por la ciudad arriba de las murallas, y me encantó cada momento. 

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I had lunch in the Casco Viejo and went to rest a bit. After the siesta, I returned to town and visited the Lugo Provincial Museum, which was free. It was more an art museum than a history museum, but I can’t complain about the price. Comí en el Casco Viejo y fui a descansar un rato. Después de la siesta, volví al Casco Viejo y fui al Museo Provincial de Lugo, que era gratis. Era más un museo de arte que un museo de historia, pero no me puedo quejar del precio. 

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I watched the sunset from the walls. Vi la puesta de sol desde las murallas. 

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The next day I wandered around town some more, and the rain came back. I caught a BlaBlCar to Gijón, and on Friday another one to Bilbao, and on Sunday went back to Valencia into the Great Unknown. El día siguiente deambulé por la ciudad más, y la lluvia volvió. Cogí un BlaBlaCar a Gijón y viernes cogí otro hasta Bilbao, y el domingo volví a Valencia al Gran Desconocido. 

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Port en (O)porto.

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Before anyone asks, I did sample port while in Porto. I liked it, although it wasn’t the best wine I’ve ever had. Antes de preguntarme, sí, probé vino de Oporto. Me gustó, aunque no era el mejor vino que he probado. 

I had been to Portugal’s second biggest city once before, in 2009, a two-day stop between Lisbon and Santiago de Compostela. I remember the city being beautiful, I remember it raining, and I remember going to the Osborne bodega to learn more about the making of Port wine. I’ve always wanted to go back to this magical city, and I was grateful for this opportunity. Había estado en la segunda ciudad de Portugal una vez antes, en 2009, una parada de dos días entre Lisboa y Santiago de Compostela. Recuerdo que la ciudad era bonita, recuerdo la lluvia, y recuerdo vistiando la bodega de Osborne para aprender más sobre la cosecha de vino. Siempre he querido volver esa ciudad encantadora, y me alegro haber tenido otra oportunidad. 

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Porto (It’s still known as Oporto in Spanish) has a population of 287,591 residents and a metropolitan population of 2,162,524. The Douro River runs through the heart of the city. The historic centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. Oporto tiene una población de 287.591 habitantes y una población metropolitana de 2.162.524. El Río Duero (conocido como Douro en Portugal) pasa por la ciudad. El casco antiguo ha sido un Patrimonio de la Humanidad desde 1996. 

I arrived about 11 and dropped my stuff off at the pensión, which was a good 2 kilometres from what I consider the city centre (the Ribeira). I found my way to the Ponte Don Luis I, admiring the Cathedral (Sé) along the way. I didn’t remember the Cathedral at all, so it was a good thing I went the way I did. Llegué sobre las 11 de la mañana y dejé el equipaje en la pensión, que era a 2 kilómetros de la Ribeira en el centro de la ciudad. Encontré el Ponte Don Luis I, y admiré la Sé (Catedral) por el camino. No recordaba bien la catedral, entonces, hice bien en tomar la ruta que tomé. 

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I crossed the bridge this time on the pavement near the tram tracks. I experienced a horrible sense of vertigo. I was dizzy the entire time I was up there, but I made myself do it as I remember lamenting the fact I didn’t cross the top part of the bridge the time before. Crucé el puente por arriba a lado de la vía de tranvía. Me daba bastante vértigo y estaba mareado todo el rato que pasaba por el puente. Seguí adelante porque siempre he lamentado el hecho que no cruce el puente por arriba durante mi primera visita a Oporto. 

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It was approaching lunch time, and I found a great place, O Bom Talher, that had a menú del día for only 8,50. Soup, main course, dessert (sobremesa), café, bread and wine included. It was the best meal of the trip. Ya era la hora de comer, y encontré un buen sitio para comer, O Bom Talher, que tenía un menú del día por solo 8,50 que incluyó sopa, segundo plato, postre (sobremesa), café, pan y vino. Era la mejor comida del viaje. 

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I continued exploring the city, and I went to the Livraria Lello, which inspired J,K. Rowling when she was working in Porto as an English teacher. (Thanks for inspiring me all the time, Ms. Rowling!). I didn’t pay the 4€ entrance fee or wait in the queue to pay for it, but I did admire it from the outside. Seguí explorando la ciudad, y fui a la Livraria Lello, que inspiró a J.K. Rowling cuando estaba trabajando en Oporto como una profesora de inglés. (Gracias por toda la inspiración que usted me da todos los días, Sra. Rowling!) No pagué los 4€ para entrar ni pensé en esperar en la cola para pagarlo, pero lo vi por afuera que era suficiente para mí. 

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I admired all the old churches. I did go back to the pensión to rest a bit, but I headed back to the centre to walk along the Douro and admire the bridges. I had a galao (large white coffee) while writing in my personal travel diary. También admiré todas las iglesias antiguas. Volví a la pensión para descansar, pero no descanse mucho. Pronto volví al centro para pasar por el Douro y ver los puentes. Tomé un galao (café con leche grande) mientras escribí en mi diario de viaje personal. 

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At dinner, I tried port and enjoyed it. En la cena, probé el vino de Oporto y me gustó.

I was left wanting more time to savour Porto, but I suppose I can always return. Me dejó con ganas de mas tiempo en Oporto, pero creo que siempre puedo volver algún día.

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Porto has been named the Best European Destination in 2014 and 2017. It is definitely one of my faves. The airport has a Ryan Air hub, making it easy to get to from many European cities. Oporto era el Mejor Destino Europeo en 2014 y 2017. Es una de mis destinos preferidos, sí. El aeropuerto es un núcleo de Ryan Air, que facilita la visita de muchas ciudades europeas. 

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Coímbra.

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Coímbra, located on the River Mondego about halfway between Lisbon and Porto, is the fourth largest city in Portugal with a population of 143,396 inhabitants. It was once the Portuguese capital and it is home to the oldest academic institution in Portugal, the Universidade de Coímbra, which began in 1290. It’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013. Coímbra, situado en el Río Mondego entre Lisboa y Oporto, es la cuarta ciudad más grande de Portugal con una población de 143.396 habitantes. Erase una vez la capital de Portugal y es el hogar de la institución académica más antigua de Portugal, la Universidade de Coímbra, que empezó en 1290. Ha sido UNESCO Patrimonio de la Humanidad desde 2013. 

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I arrived on Easter Sunday about 18.00, and my pensión was about ten minutes walking from the bus station. I dropped my bags off and went off to meander the city streets. I loved the Praça 8 de maio. I climbed up the hill slowly but surely to explore the old town and the university, which was every bit as magnificent as I had been told. It was a bit quiet, being Easter Weekend. I watched the sunset over the Mondrego and had a decent dinner. Llegué el domingo de Pascua sobre las 18.00, y mi pensión estaba ubicado a 10 minutos caminando de la estación de autobuses. Dejé el equipaje y fui a deambular las calles. Me encantó la Praça 8 de maio. Subí la colina poco a poco para explorar el casco viejo y la universidad, que era tan magnificente como me habían dicho. Era un poco callado, como era el fin de semana de Pascua. Vi la puesta del sol sobre el Mondrego y cené bien por la Praça 8 de maio. 

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After my trip to the Serra de Lousã Monday morning, Monday afternoon was spent exploring the city even more. I have to admit I went to the wrong bus stop for the bus to Lousã. Portuguese cities love to make their buses complicated, I discovered on this trip! Después de mi viaje a la Serra de Lousã lunes por la mañana, exploré las calles de Coímbra aún más lunes por la tarde. Tengo que admitir que fui a la parada de autobús incorrecta para coger el autobús a Lousã. A las ciudades portugueses les encanta hacer los autobuses complicados. ¡Descubrí eso este viaje!

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I crossed the Mondrego to write in my personal journal and people watch before exploring the upper town even more. My professor was right when he said the Portuguese could burn off those tasty pastries while walking through Coímbra! Crucé el Mondrego para escribir en mi diario de viaje personal y ver el mundo pasear antes de explorar el casco antiguo aún más. ¡Mi profesor tenía razón cuando me dijo que los portugueses siempre se queman las calorías de los pasteles ricos mientras paseaban por Coímbra!

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I was really glad to discover this city. It’s slowly being discovered by tourism, but what place isn’t these days? Me alegro haber descubierto esa ciudad. Poco a poco el turismo está descubriéndolo también, pero el turismo está encontrando a todos los sitios hoy en día. 

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There are trains to both Lisbon and Porto, but they will take you to Coímbra B, where you will need to catch a train to Coímbra city centre. The bus takes about 2 hours 20 minutes from Lisbon (and sometimes stops in Fátima) and takes about an hour and a half to Porto. Hay trenes de Lisboa y Oporto, pero van a la estaciónd e Coímbra B, donde tienes que coger otro tren hasta el centro de Coímbra. El autobús tarda sobre 2 horas y 20 minutos desde Lisboa (y a veces para en Fátima) y tarda sobre una hora y media a Oporto. 

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Sunset in Coímbra/Atardecer en Coímbra

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Segovia in 2017

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I’ve been to Segovia a few times over the years, and every time I’ve been, the provincial capital city of 56,000 residents impresses me as much as the first time. He visitado a Segovia varias veces a lo largo de los años, y cada vez que he estado, la capital de provincia (tiene 56.000 habitantes) me impresiona tanto como la primera vez.

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One of my favourite professors from university was leading a study abroad program in Segovia this semester, and I went to visit him while I was passing through the area on my way to Lisboa. Uno de mis profesores preferidos de la universidad estaba en cargo de un programa de estudiar en extranjero en Segovia esta semestre, y fui a visitarle mientras estaba de paso en la zona por el camino a Lisboa. 

The original name of the city was “Segobriga” in the Celtiberian language. “Sego” means “victory” and “briga” means “city”, so now I wonder what the original people won at to get the city named “City of Victory”. El nombre original de la ciudad era “Segobriga” en el idioma celtibérico. “Sego” significa “victoria” y “briga” significa “ciudad”, entonces, ahora quiero saber que ganaba los colonizadores habían ganado para recibir el nombre “Ciudad de la Victoria”. 

 

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The city is attractive to tourists due to its proximity to Madrid (it’s an hour bus ride) and due to its amazingly well-preserved Roman aqueduct and fortress Alcázar de Segovia, which supposedly inspired Walt Disney. The Alcázar was where Queen Isabella was crowned in 1474. Even the 1967 film Camelot used it as a stand-in for the French home of  Sir Lancelot du Lac, Joyous Gard. La ciudad se atrae turistas dado a su proximidad a Madrid (tarda una hora por autobús) y dado a su bien conversado acueducto romano y su alcázar bonito que se dice inspiró a Walt Disney. La Reina Católica Isabel fue coronada allí en 1474. Incluso la película de 1967 Camelot usó el alcázar como la casa francesa de Don Lancelot du Lac, Joyous Gard.

The city also has a spectacular cathedral and old city walls, giving the town a bit of everything. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage since 1985. La ciudad también tiene una catedral espectacular y murallas antiguas. La ciudad tiene un poco de todo. Ha sido Patrimonio de la Humanidad (UNESCO) DESDE 1985. 

This time around, I arrived around 10:30 and met up with my professor. He showed me where the students had classes and where they had called home for the past three months, and I reminisced on my own study abroad experience in Toledo in 2003. En este viaje, llegué sobre las 10.30 y quedé con mi profesor. Me enseñó donde los alumnos tenían clases y el sitio que sirvió como su casa durante los últimos tres meses. Me acordé de mi propia experiencia de estudiar en extranjero en Toledo en 2003. 

The first stop on the stroll through town was the aqueduct, which dates back to the first century AD. We walked through town, seeing the cathedral, alcázar and views of the surrounding countryside. It’s always better to see a place through the eyes of someone who has spent a lot of time there, and it gave me a better experience this time around. La primera parada en el paseo por la ciudad era el acueducto, que fue construido en Siglo I d.C. Paseamos por la ciudad, parando en la catedral, el alcázar y para ver vistas del paisaje próximo de la capital. Siempre es mejor ver un sitio por los ojos de alguien que ha vivido allí, y me daba una mejor experiencia esta vez. 

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I don’t know when my next visit to Segovia will be, as I hadn’t been since 2013. It is a place worth visiting more than once as each visit has shown me something new. No sé cuando será la próxima visita a Segovia, como no he estado desde 2013. Es un sitio que merece la pena visitar más que una vez como cada visita me ha mostrado algo nuevo. 

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Tenerife, the Set Meravelles.

I had been wanting to travel to Tenerife nearly the entire eight years I’ve lived in Spain, and my trip in Sept. 2016 left me wanting to explore this beautiful island more. It is the largest of the Canary Islands and has the highest population of any Spanish island with 898,680 residents. It’s home to one of the biggest Carnival celebrations outside of Rio de Janeiro and attracts 5 million tourists a year. It is co-capital of the Canary Islands, along with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. He querido viajar a Tenerife casí desde mi llegada a España hace ocho años ya. Mi viaje en septiembre de 2016 me dejó con ganas de explorar la isla aún más. Es la isla más grande de las Canarias y también tiene la población más alta de cualquier isla española con 898.680 habitantes. También se encuentra con uno de los Carnivales más grandes fuera de Rio de Janeiro. 5 millones de turistas visitan la isla cada año. Santa Cruz de Tenerife es la capital de las Canarias con Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. 

I will travel to Fuenteventura and Lanzarote before returning to Tenerife and exploring nearby islands La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro. Until that wonderful day arrives…I leave you with the SetMeravelles de Tenerife! Creo que viajaré a Fuenteventura y Lanzarote antes de volver a Tenerife y explorar las islas vecinas La Gomera, La Palma y El Hierro. Hasta este día magnífico llega, os dejo con las SetMeravelles de Tenerife. 

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Anaga

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The Anaga mountains are the oldest part of the island and are amazing. The villages are a step into the past, and they offer a ton of outdoor activities like hiking. It has been a Biosphere Reserve since 2015. Los montes de Anaga forman la parte más antigua de la isla y son increíbles. Los pueblos parecen ser del pasado, y ofrecen muchas actividades de naturaleza, como senderismo. Ha sido una reserva biosfera desde 2015. 

Garachico

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52 kilometres (32 miles) west of Santa Cruz lies the beautiful Garachico, a village of 5416 inhabitants. The city still maintains a Spanish character and is considered to be the least-spoilt coastal area of Tenerife. The views of the Atlantic are incredible, and the cobblestone streets are magical. Situado a 52 kilómetros oeste de Santa Cruz, Garachico es un pueblo precioso con 5416 habitantes. El pueblo mantiene un carácter muy español y se considera el pueblo costero menos desarrollado de Tenerife. Las vistas del Atlántico son increíbles, y las calles adoquinadas son algo de magia. 

Teide

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Teide is a volcano that is also the highest mountain in Spain (3718 metres or 12,198 feet). It’s a decade volcano, which means it has quite the potential to destroy should it ever erupt again, and it is still considered active. This doesn’t stop it from attracting three million visitors every year! Teide es un volcán que también es el monte más alto de España (3718 metros). Es un volcán “decade”, que quiere decir que podría destruir todo si hiciera erupción otra vez y todavía se considera activo. ¡Eso no quiere decir que no atrae unos 3 millones de visitantes cada año!

Candelaria

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Candelaria is a quaint village located on black-sand beaches about 17 kilometres (10 miles) south of Santa Cruz. The town has about 25,000 habitants and is home of an important basilica. As usual, the natural parts of the town are more impressive than the manmade ones. Candelaria es un pueblo pintoresco situado en playas de arena negra a 17 kilómetros sur de Santa Cruz. El pueblo tiene sobre 25,000 habitantes y cuenta con una basílica importante. Como siempre, la naturaleza del pueblo es más impresionante que los edificios. 

La Laguna

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San Cristóbal de La Laguna is the second largest city on Tenerife with 150, 661 residents and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999. It has one of the best reputations in Spain and was a former capital of the island. The old town has many churches and beautiful buildings, and La Havana, Lima and San Juan used the city as an model when they were first settled. San Cristóbal de La Laguna es la segunda ciudad de la isla de Tenerife con 150.661 habitantes y ha sido Patrimonio de la Humanidad de UNESCO desde 1999. Tiene una de las mejores famas de España y erase una vez la capital de la isla. El Casco Antiguo tiene muchas iglesias y edificios bonitos. La Havana, Lima y San Juan miraron a La Laguna como modelo cuando empezaron a instalarse allí. 

Plaza España (Santa Cruz de Tenerife)

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The largest square in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Canary Islands, Plaza de España is located in the centre of the city with a dramatic background of the Anaga Mountains. The lake is artificial, but the beauty is real. It was built in 1929. La plaza más grande de Santa Cruz de Tenerife y todas las Islas Canarias es la Plaza de España. Está ubicado en el centro de la ciudad con un fondo dramático de los montes de Anaga. El lago es artificial, pero su belleza es real. La construyó en 1929. 

Masca (Yet to discover)

Located at the western part of the island, Masca is a popular and difficult hiking route that includes beautiful scenery, a beach and views of spectacular cliffs known as Los Gigantes. Without a car, it is pretty difficult to get to from Santa Cruz, so I saved it for my next trip. For more information, their tourism site is hereSituado en la parte oeste de la isla, Masca es una ruta popular y difícil de senderismo que incluye paisaje bonita, una playa y vistas de unos acantilados espectaculares conocidos como Los Gigantes. Sin coche, es bastante difícil llegar allí desde Santa Cruz, y por eso lo guardo para la próxima visita. Para más información, su página de turismo está aquí. 

Camino preparation: The Third Way Out of Bilbao

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been searching for those yellow arrows. I’m hoping to spend two weeks on the Camino this summer, and I’ve been pretty lazy this winter. I took advantage of a beautiful May Bilbao morning (that has turned into a grey, depressing afternoon) to explore the third way out of Bilbao on the Camino del Norte. Hace un rato desde mi última busqueda por esas flechas amarillas. Estoy esperando pasar unas dos semanas en el Camino este verano, y este verano he estado bastante vago. Aproveché de una mañana bonita de mayo (que después cambió a una tarde lluviosa) para explorar la tercera salida de Bilbao del Camino del Norte de Santiago. 

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The third route goes along the left-bank of the Nervión Estuary along the working-class Bilbao barrio of Zorroza, through Barakaldo, Sestao and on to Portugalete. I had intended to take it from Termibus, where two of the three exits of Bilbao converge, but I ended up biking it to Zorroza. BilbonBizi now charges for their bike rental service, and as they had charged me, I better make use of it. It meant I arrived there in less time and only had about 10 kilometres to hike. La tercera ruta de Bilbao a Portugalete va por la margen izquierda de la Ría Nervión y pasa por el barrio obrero de Zorroza, por Barakaldo, Sestao hasta Portugalete. Iba a empezar en Termibus, donde hay una bifurcación de dos de las tres salidas, pero decidí coger bici hasta Zorroza. Ahora BilbonBizi cobra por su servicio de bicis, y como ya me han cobrado, tengo que aprovecharlo. Eso significaba que llegué en menos tiempo a Zorroza y solo tenía que caminar unos 10 kilometros.

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I had a café con leche at the aptly named “Bar Compostela” in Zorroza before finding those yellow arrows. I followed them through the main street of the barrio and left Bilbao. The arrows went straight through the working-class suburb (which is a city in its own right actually) Barakaldo. It took me by the Nervión for most of the hike, and I admired a chocolate lab playing in the water for a bit. A lot of people were taking advantage of the good weather and were out with their dogs and bikes. Me tomé un café con leche en el Bar Compostela (vaya nombre) en Zorroza antes de buscar esas flechas amarillas. Las seguí por la calle principal del barrio y salí de Bilbao. Las flechas pasan por la ciudad obrera Barakaldo. Estaba a lado de la Nervión por mucho del Camino. Paré para mirar un labrador jugando en la ría un rato. Muchas personas aprovecharon del buen tiempo para sacar el perro o su bici. 

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Sestao was another working class village, and I stopped for a café con leche so I could take advantage of their toilets, as I was drinking a lot of water. Portugalete was right down the road, and I arrived in less than two hours from Zorroza. A nice woman directed me down the stairs in a park to walk along the river. Sestao era otro pueblo obrero, y me tomé otro café con leche allí para aprovechar de sus aseos, como estaba bebiendo mucho agua. Portugalete estaba cada vez más cerca, y llegué en menos de dos horas de Zorroza. Una mujer maja me informó que había un caminato por la ría, y me bajé por las escalares.

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My original plan was to cross the Puente Vizcaya (Hanging Bridge), but it costs 9€ to cross now, and I wasn’t paying that. I guess that will be one thing I will miss out on. El plan era cruzar el Puente de Vizcaya, pero ahora cuesta 9€ para cruzarlo por arriba y no quería pagar eso. 

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I think the right-bank Camino is my fave Camino out of Bilbao. The original Camino passes a nice ermita, but the trek through the shopping centre is torture. Granted, the Ikea does attracts many Bilbao pilgrims looking for pretty furniture, but most Camino Pilgrims would prefer to avoid it, I think. This one was really easy, but it passed too many former industrial zones for my tastes. It depends on which Camino is calling you, as I cannot speak for anyone’s tastes but my own. Creo que el Camino por la margen derecha es mi preferido Camino saliendo de Bilbao. El Camino original pasa por una ermita chula, pero el paseo por el centro comercial es una tortura. Vale, Ikea atrae muchos peregrinos bilbaínos, sí, pero creo que la mayoría de los peregrinos del Camino preferirían evitarlo. Este camino era bastante fácil, pero pasa por muchas zonas industriales. Depende en el peregrino y cual camino está llamando al peregrino individual. Solo puedo hablar de mis propios gustos. 

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The other two Caminos outside Bilbao can be found/Los otros dos Caminos se puede encontrar here and here.

Hike #9/40 of 2016
Date/Fecha: 21-05-2015
Kilometres hiked: 10ish
Mountain: N/A
Difficulty: Easy

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Córdoba. Flower power!

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I am counting back, and it’s already been six years since my last visit to Córdoba. I regret that news, as it was always one of my favourite cities and one I’ve been wanting to get back to. But life gets in the way, and I’m closer to Paris than I am Córdoba these days.

When I first lived in Spain, Córdoba was my very first visit. It was only an hour and a half away from Linares, and I felt that I should be travelling and taking advantage of living in Spain. I didn’t think about saving money for longer and better trips. I was in a brand new country and wanted to see EVERYTHING. So I hoped a bus, which stopped just ten minutes outside of Linares for twenty minutes. I was lost, confused and not sure of what a “parada de 20 minutos” entailed. We got on the road again, and we were soon in Córdoba provincia and later the capital city. I got off the bus and wandered around lost, trying to get to the Casco Viejo to see what there was to see. I had done no research. I just knew Córdoba was a city we had often talked about in my Early and Medieval Spanish literature university course.

I meandered the old city, crossing the Roman bridge a few times and admiring the horse and buggies that went through the cobblestone streets. I went in to this Mezquita Catedral thing that seemed to be the highlight of the city. I saw you had to pay, and I wasn’t in the best financial situation, so I didn’t go in. I had a quick lunch at Burger King, as I was too shy to go to an actual restaurant (How times have changed!) and later caught the bus back to Linares, vowing to return another day soon.

That day came sooner than I thought, as I was asked to help chaperone a school trip to Córdoba. I instantly said yes. On this fateful November day, I got to tour the Mezquita Catedral. Truly amazing. I regret that my Andalusian Spanish was so rusty during this time as I would’ve learned so much more. We then walked around the city and saw some more sites, including a deep well and the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. We were left alone to watch the students as one of them had an emergency and the main teacher had to go to the hospital with her. They had their bocadillos, which we hadn’t known to take, and the students gave us a ton of food and kicked around some oranges that had fallen from the trees. They were quite happy. When the teacher came back, we were off again…to MEDIA MARKT! We spent an hour there. Looking back, I suppose it was because the ruins we were off to see were closed for siesta, but at the time, we were just questioning why so much time was spent at the European Best Buy. We then went to some ruins close to the city, la Medina Azahara, before heading back to Linares. Another sick student on the bus and a half hour at a petrol/gas station/cafetería. I still look back on this day as one of my favourite teaching days ever.

Later, in May of that year, I went back to Córdoba for a job fair where I got told I needed a UK passport a ton. I spent the rest of the day meandering the town.  I lamented that their famous flower festival had been the weekend prior. It would’ve made the city even more beautiful. However, there was a fair going on, which I did check out.

Like so many places those first few years in Spain, I haven’t had an opportunity to go back. If only I could just spend my entire life going from town to town in this amazing country.

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Mezquita Catedral

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Córdoba, once claimed to be the largest city in the world in the 10th century, has many roots to its centuries of Muslim rule. Today the population is around 330,000. It is one of the hottest cities in Spain with an average of 37ºC/99ºF in July and August. And the most famous landmark is the Mezquita Catedral located in the heart of the Jewish quarter and historic centre (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Visigoths built the original Cathedral, which was destroyed to rebuild a Mosque during the Muslim rules. After the Reconquista, it was converted into a Catholic Cathedral. It is amazingly beautiful inside and one of the Set Meravelles, for me, of Andalucía.

Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

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Also located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter of the historic centre is the fortress of the Christian Kings. This is a fortress that was a home of the Catholic Kings Fernindad and Isabel. It was the headquarters of the Reconquista during the final years of it, and the famous monarchs met with Christoper Columbus before that fateful voyage of 1492. Today you can still visit and admire the beautiful gardens. It has been a National Monument since the 1950s.

Puente Romano y la Torre de la Calahorra

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The Roman Bridge and the Calahorra gate Tower form (for me) the most impressive bridge of the seven current bridges crossing the Guadalquivir River. The tower protected the bridge. The bridge was built in the first century BC and is 247 metres long (741 feet).  It has been restored many times, the last time being in 2006, and the restoration efforts were awarded with the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage in 2014.

Fiesta de los Patios, Cruzes y Feria

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While I did see the Feria de Mayo in Córdoba, I missed the fiestas of the patios and crosses.  At the beginning of May, there are crosses made of flowers placed throughout the city, and they have a contest to decide the most beautiful cross. Then they open up private patios throughout the city to choose the most beautiful patio. The patios are decorated with flowers. I saw some of the flowers, but I would’ve liked to have seen the whole thing.

Medina Azahara

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The Medina Azahara is 13 kilometres (8 miles) from Córdoba, located in the foothills of the Sierra Morena, and “the shining city” are ruins of a former Muslim palace city. The views of Córdoba are fantastic, and although only 10% of the original palace-city are visible today, they are well worth seeing. The once important place of al-Andalus was set on fire in the 11th Century.

Cabra y las Sierras Subbeticas (Yet to be discovered)

The rural town of Cabra is the gateway of the National Park of the Sierras Subbeticas and is a major source of red polished limestone. “Cabra” is Spanish for goat, and the goat city is located 72 km (45 miles) from the province capital. It has a medieval tower, some churches and the Castillo de los Condes. It’s central located in Andalucía.

Priego de Córdoba (Yet to be discovered)

 The town of 22,000 habitants, Priego de Córdoba, is located in the southeast of the province on the mountains of the Sierra de Priego. The views from the cliff Adarve are the subject of many paintings and photos. It is a city of “cien fuentes”, 100 fountains, and it also has a castle. I’m sure the best part of this small city are the views. I’m a sucker for beautiful scenery.

Teruel…isolated yet enchanting

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Teruel has a reputation for being one of the coldest places in Spain. It’s remote and hard to get to, being the only province capital in the peninsula that lacks a train connection to Madrid. It’s remote and unspoiled by the tourist masses, which means it was right up my alley for a day trip in February 2011. It’s another place I regret I haven’t had the chance to get back to…yet.

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Teruel is the smallest province capitals with just 35,000 habitants. Many buildings were constructed with the Mudéjar architecture, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the architecture itself.) It is located 915 metres above sea level. It is just as beautiful, at least for me, as Toledo, Ávila and Segovia, but it still remains isolated, despite the efforts of the Teruel existe (Teruel exists) tourism campaign.

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I took the bus from Valencia on Feb. 12, 2011 (I looked up the date on my private journal). I think it left around 8:00, and I was there by 9:30 or so. I walked around the town, visiting the cathedral, the towers, the plaza with its famous statue, and I had a tostada con tomate y JAMÓN. It was delicious. It wasn’t as cold as previously told (although remember, I am originally from Ohio so my idea of cold may not be yours. You’ve been warned). I found the train station and admired the city from down below. I decided to combine trips and take an earlier bus to see Segorbe in Castellón on the way back (which turned out to be a mistake as I missed the bus back to Valencia from Segorbe and had to stay the night!).

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From my personal journal…I didn’t write much. Darn. I got up early to catch the first bus to Teruel, which is this awesome little pueblo that’s a province capital. It’s really beautiful, but you can see everything there is to see in about an hour. And I even stopped for some tostada with JAMÓN, which was the best jamón ever.

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Torres y iglesias de Teruel

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Teruel has four churches included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mudéjar Architectures. All of them are incredibly beautiful. You have the Torre (Tower) de El Salvador, Catedral de Teruel, Iglesia (Church) of San Pedro (which is home of the Tomb of the Amantes (Lovers) of Teruel) and the Iglesia de La Merced to choose from if you want to see Mudéjar architecture. There are a few other churches here too in other styles.

Plaza del Torico (Carlos Castell)

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The main plaza of Teruel has an interesting statue in the centre. The fountain has a small bull at the top watching the city. The fountain dates back to 1375 but has been replaced two times since. The current one was erected in 1858. Legend has it two soldiers ignored the orders of King Alfonso II followed a bull due to some dreams they had. The bull lead them here to start a new population. It is the one of the most famous landmarks of the province.

Jamón

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I’ve said many times I’m not really a foodie (I could live on Spanish tostada alone and be happy), but Spanish jamón serrano is the best ham in the world. Teruel is known for it. To go to Teruel and not try jamón (sorry vegetarians! You are exempt, of course!) is like to go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower. Teruel is famous for “buen jamón serrano” (“buen” is good.)

Albarracín (visited 2017)

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Albarracín has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful villages in all of Spain (and probably attracts more tourists than the province capital.) Although it only has 1000 habitants, the village is quite beautiful and surrounded by mountains and offers a ton of hiking opportunities. It also offers a lot of history and a chance to experience authentic rural life.

Mirambel

Even smaller than Albarracín with only 137 habitants (2004 census), the village of Mirambel is located close to the Castellón border in the Maestrazgo mountains. It’s mentioned by Basque writer Pío Baroja in La Venta de Mirambel and offers beautiful mountains and conserves some of its old walls.

Castillo de Mora de Rubielos

There are a lot of castles in Spain, and I would love to have the chance to just go touring all the castles (and then write about them, of course!) The castle located in Mora de Rubielos, population 1700 in 2009, is definitely on my list. The village is located in the mountains (like most places in Teruel).

Alcañiz

Alcañiz is the second largest city in the province with 16,000 folks calling it home. The Jewish population of the city were protected until the Inquisition and had to pay a fine if they wished to move out of the city. Today you can still visit the Calatravos Castle, a gothic market, underground passages and a few churches. Nearby, you can see rock paintings of the Val del Charco del Agua Amargo.

Teruel province is also home of Miravete de la Sierra, population 12, which calls itself El Pueblo Donde Nunca Pasa Nada (the village where nothing ever happens). This marketing campaign has actually brought a number of curious visitors. I am sure if I ever have a car, I’ll be one of the curious ones.