Our 2017 Europe Itinerary: Munich, Portugal, Spain and Copenhagen

Several friends have asked for the itinerary for our 6 week trip to Europe last spring. You asked for it, you got it. Contact me if you want more details. I’ll do a future blog entry about the wisdom (or lack of it) in doing this type of trip.

We went on this trip in April and May of 2017. Spring seemed to be the perfect time to be there, and it wasn’t high season yet (except Easter weekend – avoid Easter weekend!) We were able to leverage our airline miles, hotel points, friends’ hospitality, and our savvy bargain-hunting to keep costs down. What most people spend on a two-week vacation we stretched across 6 weeks. Portugal is a bargain, but Denmark is not! Lesson learned.

Note: I didn’t list restaurants for every meal because, frankly, some aren’t worth mentioning. Not every meal on your European vacation is going to be a good one – some are just sustenance! Also note that the prices I list for some things are sometimes in dollars and sometimes in euros. It just depends on which form of payment the website or hotel would accept.

Summary:

  • Day 1:                  Flight to Munich
  • Day 2-3:              Munich
  • Day 4:                  Flight to Lisbon
  • Day 4-9:              Lisbon
  • Day 10:               Drive to Aldeia Da Serra
  • Day 11:               Cork trekking
  • Day 12:               Drive to Salema with stops in Portel & Beja
  • Day 13-16:         Salema/Algarve
  • Day 17:               Drive to Faro
  • Day 18:               Faro
  • Day 19:               Bus to Seville
  • Day 20-21:          Seville
  • Day 22:               Drive to Arcos
  • Day 23:               Drive to Gibraltar
  • Day 24:               Drive to Ronda
  • Day 25:               Ronda
  • Day 26:               Drive to Grenada
  • Day 27:               Grenada
  • Day 28:               Drive to Madrid
  • Day 29-30:         Madrid
  • Day 31:              Train to Barcelona
  • Day 32-34:         Barcelona
  • Day 35:               Fly to Majorca
  • Day 36-42:         Majorca
  • Day 43:               Fly to Zurich.
  • Day 44:               Fly to Copenhagen
  • Day 45:               Copenhagen
  • Day 46:               Flight home

Details: 

Day 1: Travel

Flight to Munich.

 

Day 2: Arrive in Munich

Arrive in Munich.

Lodging: Hotel Cocoon Stachus,  Adolf-Kolping-Str. 11, Munich, Bavaria 80336, $205 for 2 nights, breakfast charge €9.90.

Shops in Viktualienmarkt in Munich. In the foreground is a shop with a blue and white striped awning with the words Kleiner Ochs N Brater. Two people stand in front of the shop. To the left of the shop is a shop with a red awning. Behind the shops are two trees with not leaves because the photo was taken in early April. Beyond the tress is the copper domed tower of the St. Peter's Church. It is a tower of off-white brick. To the right of the shop with the blue awning are 3 easel signs that likely tell what is for sale. Behind those signs is a yellow building that is four stories high. It has rows of windows on each floor with the top floor's windows peaking out dormers in the brick-red roof. Above it all is a bright blue Bavarian sky with a few puffy clouds.
Viktualienmarkt in Munich

Activities: Rick Steves walking tour on podcast. Download his podcast tours for all the cities you will visit before you leave home (and free wifi!) We visited all the old favorites: Marienplatz (if you’re lucky, you too will get to navigate your way through a rowdy crowd of fussball fans!), Neues Rathaus, Peterskirche (look for the skeleton relic and, if you have time, climb the tower), Viktualienmarkt (a favorite – grab some fruit, cheese, sausages for later!), Ohel Jakob Synagogue, Asamkirche, Frauen Kirche, and the Michael Jackson memorial at Promenadeplatz.

Meals: Lunch at Zum Augustiner. Dinner at Ratskeller. Both traditional German favorites.

 

Day 3: Munich

Busts of historic men line the walls of the Antiquarium in the Residenze in Munich.
The Antiquarium in the Residenz in Munich

Activities: Tour the Residenz. The Treasury is amazing – it’s really fun to see bejeweled crowns that are hundreds of years old. The Residenz Museum is a tour through a palace that is worth an hour or so. Don’t forget to stop at the Cuvilies Theater, which is interesting and only takes a few minutes.

http://www.residenz-muenchen.de/englisch/tourist/opening.htm

 

 

Day 4: Travel

Flight to Lisbon. (We volunteered to be bumped and were compensated €800! European airlines are required to compensate in cash when they bump someone – not just airline vouchers. Flew through Toulouse, ate croissants, and only delayed about 3 hours!)

Lodging: Doubletree by Hilton Lisbon Fontana Park, Rua Eng Vieira Da Silva 2, Lisbon, 1050-105 using Hilton Points. Not the best location, but it’s where we could use points! Free breakfast, free wifi.

 

Day 5: Lisbon

Activities: Gold Panning Day! Met Kevin’s friend at the hotel and got a rental car for the day (Sixt). His friend took us to Belem first to pick up shovels for gold panning and Pastéis at the Casa Pastéis de Belém. Of course, you won’t likely want to do this, but it’s any example of how every trip should include your personal interests, and that you could easily include a day trip out of town to a beach or other outdoor activity.

Drove across the Ponte 25 de Abril (April 25 Bridge) to the Santuario Nacional de Cristo Rei (Christ of Majesty). The Cristo Rei is worth a stop if you are going over the bridge anyhow. Then drove to beach near Fonte da Telha/Arriba Fóssil da Costa da Caparica for gold prospecting (no luck).

Meals: Lunch: Picnic on beach. Dinner: Restaurante Maracanã. (Nice that the server explained that in Portugal the restaurants bring an assortment of appetizers to the table and if you don’t refuse them then you will pay a euro or two for each, whether you wanted them or ate much or not.)

 

Day 6: Lisbon

Activities: Took an Uber to Belém – Museu de Marinha. (Maritime Museum – interesting, learn about history of Portugal.) Tried to see the Monastery and Tower but they were closed due to strike by security workers.  Took bus to Lisbon. Lisbon:  Walked from the Praça do Comércio, up the R. Augusta to the Bairro Alto neighborhood.

Meals: Lunch: cafe at Marine Museum.

 

Day 7: Lisbon

Bright yellow and red walls of the Pena Palace.
Climb the stairs to the Pena Palace.

Activities: Day at Sintra. Visited the Palácio Nacional da Pena (Pena Palace) and the Castelo do Mouros (Moorish Castle). Sintra is worth at least a full day. The train is easy to catch and there are many different sites to see in Sintra. Once in Sintra, you’ll catch a bus to go up the hill to the sites. If it’s a busy day, consider walking between sites when it’s feasible, or walk down the hill to get back to town to catch the train. The adventure of walking through gardens and forests, finding our way to town, was one of the best parts of the day for us.

 

Meals: Lunch: cafe at Pena Palace.

 

Day 8: Lisbon

Activities: Rick Steves walking tours of Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Alto. Follow the self-guided tours in his book or on his podcast (or both!)

A narrow pedestrian street. We look up the street and on the right in the foreground is a bright blue home with a window, door, and on the second floor there are small balconies. Laundry hangs on the balcony's iron rails. Further up the street is a white house and then a pink house. 4 people are walking in the street in the distance. The street is cobbled and the sky is bright blue.
Stroll the streets of Alfama.

Alfama: Spend time strolling the Castle Town just outside the castle turnstile. The narrow streets are quaint and cool.

 

Baixa: Make sure to stop at the Ginjinha Sem Rival Eduardino, a small place to taste Ginjinha (a sweet cherry liquor), on Rua das Portas de Santo Antão.

Bairro Alto: See the city view from Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara (San Pedro Belvedere), a park at the top of the funicular. Rest on a bench and listen to a musician playing in the park.

Don’t miss the Solar do Vinho do Porto (run by the Port Wine Institute). This is a wonderful place to have a seat in a comfy chair, order a couple different types of port, enjoy some chocolate or nuts, and relax. While the building is directly across the street from the Elevador da Glória at Rua São Pedro de Alcântara 45, it’s a very indistinct and poorly signed place, so be persistent – it’s there!

Meals: Dinner: Pizza in Bairro Alto, and a late-night snack at the Art Nouveau decorated Café A Braziliera. Notice the statue of Fernando Pessoa outside the cafe.

 

Day 9: Lisbon

Activities: Belem: Monastery of Jerónimos, Torre de Belém (Belém Tower). The Monastery has unique architecture and is a top priority for your trip to Lisbon. The Tower is interesting and it’s fun to be by the river, but it’s not a major site that you must see.

Meals: Lunch: Pão Pão Queijo Queijo, sandwich place east of the Monastery just before Pastéis de Belém . Dinner: Cantinho das Gáveas, a Bairro Alto sidewalk cafe – there are many of them – I’d try a different one!

Re: Lisbon: There are many more things to do (museums, castles, palaces, etc.) We had to keep it simple since we were dealing with jet lag and the Easter holiday and a strike made it difficult to see some sites. The Easter crowds and strike were more of an issue that closures for the holiday.

 

Day 10: Travel Lisbon through Evora to Aldeia da Serra

Rent car in Lisbon. Sixt., €146.

Activities: Drive to Convento in Aldeia Da Serra (near Redondo). On the way, stop in Evora for lunch and do Rick Steves’ walking tour. The walking tour is excellent and a good introduction to Evora. Along the tour, see the Roman Ruins and stop at the Fabrica dos Pasteis for one of the cream tarts (pasteis), on Alcárcova de Cima. Lots of fun things to explore – I’d stay a night or two in Evora and really explore more of the city.

Meals: Lunch: Evora sidewalk cafe on Alcarcova de Baixo. Dinner: Restaurante O Ermita, at Convento Sao Paulo.

The outdoor room has a marble tiled floor with square pink tiles and grey rectangular border tiles. We are looking into the corner of the room and on walls adjacent to the corner are stone benches surrounded by blue and white Portuguese tile work. The tiles are painted and glazed with medieval scenes. The tiles have a decorative edge and crosses atop the right and left sides of the tile picture. On each outer side of the benches is an open entry surrounded by pink marble. Though the right doorway we can see a tree and shrubs.
Enjoy the magnificent tilework at the Convento Sao Paulo.

Lodging: Convento Sao Paulo – Hotel Rural, Address: Aldeia Da Serra, 7170-120 Aldeia da Serra, Phone: +351 266 989 160. Excellent rural hotel at a monastery. Restaurant onsite for dinner. The tilework and historical nature of this hotel makes it very special – an experience more than just a hotel. Staying here is a bit like having an overnight in a run-down but partially and lovingly restored monastery. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about Portuguese tilework while wandering hallways, exploring the gardens, and being amazed by all of the art! This is one of those hidden gems that will be one of your favorites experiences in Portugal.

 

Day 11: Aldeia da Serra

Activities: Walk Cork forest. Booked at Herdade da Maroteira through http://maroteira.com/en/contactos/. Website: http://maroteira.com/en/actividades/caminhadas/   +351 962 831 053 mobile, +351 266 909 823 office

A cork tree stands in the foreground, with more cork trees in the background. The tree has freshly sprouted green leaves. The cork bark has been trimmed over the years to about 8 feet high, so a layer to lighter brownish green bark grows just out of reach. Two men stand to the right of the tree. The trek guide points upward, explaining how the cork is cut. He wears a green shirt with long blue sleeves and a beige collar, and brown pants. Another man stands to his right with his arms crossed looking upward to where the guide is pointing. This man wears a wide brimmed khaki hiking hat, an off-white short sleeved shirt with a collar, a small teal knapsack, and dark green hiking pants.
Corktrekking at Herdade da Maroteira

Herdade da Maroteira is south of the Convento. Take N381 south. After passing the village of Aldeia da Serra, look for signpost on the right saying Herdade da Maroteira. Then drive awhile on a dirt road to the Herdade (ranch/farm).  GPS Coordinates: N 38º 42’ 00’’ – W 7º 34’ 28’’

Excellent guided walk of the cork forest and vineyards – one of my favorite days. You can also book a jeep tour if you don’t want to walk (I’d do this in the heat of the summer, but for a visit in the spring you should take the 3+ hours to see the wildflowers.) In June you may get to see the cork cutters harvesting the cork and in autumn you may get to see the pigs that come to feast on the acorns from the cork oak trees (and later become your jamon that you’ll eat too much of in Spain!)

 

Meals: Lunch: Restaurante Serra D’Ossa in Aldeia da Serra. Dinner: At Convento.

 

Day 12: Travel Aldeia da Serra through Portel and Beja to Salema

Activities:

Drive to Salema, 3 hours. This was another one of my favorite days. We took the whole day to drive and stop at a couple interesting towns that are definitely off the beaten path.

Stops at:

Portel :  We parked in town (free parking lot near the church, south of Parque da Matriz)and walked up to the castle ruins, enjoying the quaint town and its sites (stork nests in church towers, town hall, lovely pedestrian walkways). You could drive up to the south side of the castle ruins and park at the castle, but this town is a maze of one-way streets so you’ll need a good map app or GPS to find your way. Castle ruins are free. The ruins are fun to walk on (climb the steps and see the views but be careful, there are no safety rails or protections from falling.) On the way back to our car we found a free clean public toilet on R. do Outeiro, just east of the corner with Rua Dr. Manuel D’arriaga. There is a sandwich shop on Rua Dr. Manuel D’arriaga just north of R. do Outeiro – very local and no English.

Beja: This town is larger than Portel and better prepared for tourists. We parked just downhill from the castle (free street parking on R. General Teofilo da Trindade). The castle is free and much better restored. Note the Roman Gate (Arco Romano) as you walk along R. D Dinis outside the castle wall). Climb to the top of the castle tower to see the views! We also stopped in the cathedral which is next to the Castle. The cathedral has excellent examples of azulejos (painted ceramic tile work – mostly blue).

At the castle you can visit a tourist office and pick up maps of Beja and flyers about where you can see more azulejos. If I were to go to Beja again I’d stay for an entire day and maybe even spend a night. I’d do the walking tour in the flyer “The Art of the Azulejos of Beja” and visit the Nucleo Museologico da Rua do Sembrano (Archaeological Museum with Roman ruins under glass) and the Museu Regional Rainha D. Leonor/Convento N Sa da Ceonceicao Regional Museum.

Meals: Grab sandwiches and snacks at a pastry shop in these small towns. For dinner we ate at Boia Restaurante in Salema and had an excellent fish dish recommended by the waiter. Drink afterward at Bistro Central.

Lodging: In Salema: Al Mare. http://the-mare.com I’d highly recommend this hotel. We stayed in Apt. B for $65 per night. This unit is at the top of the stairs, so be prepared to carry your bags up a couple of flights of stairs. You can choose to stay in an apartment, where you will have a kitchen. If you’d rather have breakfast included with your room, choose one of the bed and breakfast accommodations, which don’t have a kitchen but do have breakfast provided every morning. Show them your copy of the Rick Steves Portugal book to get a discount.

Our apartment included:

  • deck with a table and chairs and chaise lounges
  • clothes line which was very handy for drying swimsuits, towels, and hand wash
  • small bathroom with shower
  • kitchen with refrigerator, microwave, hot water pot, stove
  • seating area with sofa, television (with many, many satellite channels in various languages, but few English/American channels)

The town of Salema has two small grocery stores with all the basics you might need. We stopped at a supermarket on our drive to Salema to load up on groceries for the week.

 

Day 13: Salema

Activities: Lazy day in Salema. Walk around town. Enjoy the beach and watching the local fishermen.

Meals: Dinner of wine, cheese, jamon, bread, fruit, etc. on our deck.

 

Day 14: Salema

Two men stand just outside a doorway to a white stucco building that has a rippled tile roof peeking over the side. The building and the men are in a vineyard with bare earth at their feet and grapevines in the background. The man on the right holds an unlabeled bottle of wine that he is purchasing from the other man. The buyer has on a wide brimmed khaki hiking hat, a bright yellow soccer shirt and grey hiking pants. The seller is wearing a traditional light brown newsboy style cap, a grey sweater with a collared shirt underneath, and khaki pants. Both men are smiling.
Buying a bottle of wine from a local vintner.

Activities: Hike along the shore to the west to beach. Wildflowers in April were incredible. Walk along the creek inland to the village of Figueira. At the sign “Wine for sale” we were lucky enough to find the vintner in his vineyard and bought a bottle of red wine from him for 5 euros. Again, no English, but the language of wine is universal. Walked back to our apartment through Figueira.

 

Meals: Dinner: Restaurante O Lourenço. Excellent seafood include the traditional local barnacles.

 

Day 15: Salema

Activities: Drive to Cabo de Sao Vicente (most eastern point in continental Europe). Walked along the cliffs and saw wildflowers. Stops on the way back to Salema included castle ruin, the marina in Sagres, and beach. Just explore your way along the coast.

Meals: Lunch at Chiringuito Last Chance on the beach in Sagres.

 

Day 16: Salema

View of the blue Atlantic from a cliff. In the foreground, on the top of the cliff are blooming succulents, similar to iceplant. The flowers on the plants are light yellow. Below the cliff we see rocks poking up through the water and in the distance the land curves around to the right, showing that this is the edge of a bay. The water is aqua colored in the foreground, but gets darker in the distance and we can see dark sea plants in the water. It is a cloudy day.
View of the blue Atlantic from Lagos.

Activities: Kayak tour in Lagos to Ponta da Piedade. Seeing the Ponta da Piedade is kind of a required activity in the Algarve. Our kayak tour was a bit of an adventure (which included me being dumped out of the kayak both times we came ashore) because of the surf. If you aren’t up for the work and adventure of kayaking, there are many, many boats available for hire and the local fishermen/guides will show you the rock features that we kayaked into and through.

 

Meals: Dinner: Casa Pizza in Salema.

 

Day 17: Travel Salema to Faro

Activities: Drive to Faro. Along the way:

Stop in Lagos to see the beaches and rocks. We took a little walk along the beach and enjoyed seeing all the shells at low tide.

A man trims cork at the Novacortica cork factory in Sao Bras de Alportel. He is dressed in a long blue work shirt and has a white face mask covering his nose and mouth. He is trimming a piece of cork that is probably about 2 inches thick. He is using a long curved blade of a knife and has safety gloves on. He holds the handle of the knife below the cork with the blade pointed upward and draws the knife horizontally toward his body. In the background are piles of cork for trimming and a pile of cork that his just come out of the steamer. It has steam rising from the pile.
A visit to the Novacortica cork factory

Tour of Cork factory at Novacortica in Sao Bras de Alportel. €12.50 per person.  1 1/2 hour tour. Address: 8150-017 São Brás de Alportel, Portugal. novacortica.pt   +351 289 840 150  The cork factory tour was excellent and a really nice addition to our cork trek. If you like factory tours and/or have an interest in cork, this tour is a must.

Drop off rental car at Faro airport. Take city bus to Hostel. (Stopped at Hostel to drop off bags first and learn about bus route.)

 

Lodging: 1878 Hostel, Rua Serpa Pinto n.º29, 8000-431. Phone: (00351) 289 820 428, email: info@1878hostel.com. Inexpensive but be aware it’s in the graffiti-laden part of town and can be noisy. Breakfast was lame.

Meals:  Dinner: Portas de São Pedro – excellent!

 

Day 18: Faro

Activities: Boat tour to see preserve. Very rainy, cold, didn’t see many birds – don’t bother doing this on a rainy day. After lunch walked around old town and saw the Faro Cathedral. The Cathedral is interesting, but climbing the bell tower is the most fun – especially if the bells sound while you are right next to them! Look for the stork nests in the surrounding towers.

Meals:  Dinner: Tasquinha Cruzeiro (great seafood – a real locals place) and then stopped at Portas de São Pedro for dessert.

 

Day 19: Travel Faro to Seville

Activities: Morning spent touring Faro. Churches: Igreja de São Pedro and Igreja do Carmo (including bone chapel). Visit Faro Municipal Market – very interesting and has a local feel – not like the trendy markets in Madrid and Barcelona. Make sure to go all the way to the back and see the live eels trying to wriggle away!

Afternoon and evening: bus from Faro to Seville. http://www.rede-expressos.pt/default.aspx Purchased tickets in advance. €20 per ticket. This is the only way to get from Faro to Seville on public transportation. There is no train and taking a rental car between countries increases the cost substantially. While the bus station in Faro isn’t very nice, the bus is very comfortable.

More information about bus transportation options at: http://algarvebus.info/001.htm

Lodging: Hotel Zaida, Averaged about €95 per night but we paid a premium a couple of nights because of the festival in town. Address: San Roque 26, Sevilla. +34 954 21 36 12. info@hotelzaida.com Nice Moorish hotel, no breakfast, but room had a refrigerator so we were able to have yogurt and other breakfast foods in the room.

Meals: Lunch: brought sandwiches on the bus. Dinner: Tapas at Dos de Mayo (recommended by the hotel).

 

Day 20: Seville

Activities:  Visit El Divino Salvador before going to the cathedral. You can buy a ticket for both the church and the cathedral, and there is no line. Then, when you go to the cathedral you go straight to the front of the line (you do have to be assertive and just keep saying “excuse me” as you make you way to the front of the line). El Divino is a large, impressive church, but then you get to the Cathedral and – wow! Make sure to climb the bell tower at the cathedral. Rick Steves Walking Tour through the Barrio Santa Cruz. Went to a flamenco show at night, which was a good cultural experience (but I much preferred coming across street performers doing flamenco the next day).

 

Day 21: Seville

Activities: Morning tour of Royal Palace (Real Alcázar de Seville). This Moorish palace is a great introduction to Moorish art and architecture. It helped to have a tour. Take your time to capture photos and really appreciate the ornate details. Note: When we got to the palace the line for tickets was very, very long. A man was gathering people from the line for a private tour. We only paid about €10 extra to have him take us to the front of the line, buy our tickets for us, and then give us a private tour of the palace. It was well worth it to avoid the line!

A family rides a formal horse-drawn wagon at the Feria in Seville. The road is cobblestone and we see the tail and hindquarters of a white horse on the right. The wagon is dark green and delicate with thin wagon wheels, gold trim and a shallow bed where the family is seated. Two men in blue suits sit at the front, driving the wagon with the man nearest the camera holding the reins. In the back seat are 3 women and a small girl sitting in the lap of the girl closest to the camera. The women and little girls are dressed in traditional Seville red and white dresses with ruffles down the skirt. They have red flowers on top of their heads. The women furthest from the camera is in a modern red jacket and has straight black hair with no decorations. The background shows the decorated tents where the Feria parties are held. They have red and white or green and white striped awnings. There are many people of all ages on the sidewalks.
A family celebrates at the Feria in Seville

Afternoon: Seville fair (Feria). If you get the chance to be in Seville during Feria you must go. Just go to people-watch. Be discreet and polite, but take it all in. Before you go, ask your hotel if they have the list of “stalls” at the Feria that are open to the public. Then go to one and order a drink and some food. You’ll never be able to blend in, but it doesn’t matter. Just experience this local tradition!

 

Meals: Lunch at Feria.

 

Day 22: Travel Seville to Arcos de la Frontera

Activities: Pick up rental car in Seville. Europcar at train station, $165. Drive from Seville to Arcos (1 hour 15 minutes.) Walked around Arcos. Late snack at fancy hotel. All sites were closed due to May 1 holiday.

Lodging: Hostal El Patio, booked through Booking.com, $48, pay at the Hostal, room with terrace overlooking town, farmland and reservoir. Address: Callejón de las Monjas, 4
11630 Arcos de la Frontera. Phone: +34 956 70 23 02. Located in the historic center of Arcos de la Frontera across from the Basilica of Sta. Maria de la Asuncion. Parked in the underground car park at Paseo de Andalucia. Walked up hill to hostel. The hostel provides an excellent breakfast.

Meals: Lunch:  Cafe Bar Restaurante El Santa Maria. Very good lunch – we adventurously ordered one of each tapas plate on the lunch menu.  Dinner: Taberna Jovenes Flamencos. Excellent meal.

 

Day 23: Travel Arcos de la Frontera to Gibraltar

A light brown macaque sits among rocks and yellow flowers eating a peanut.
One of the famous Gibraltar macaques

Activities: Drive to Gibraltar, park at hotel in La Linea de la Concepcion (Spanish side of border). Visit Gibraltar: Tram to top of rock, hike down visiting various sites, including tunnels. If it’s important to you to take in all the sites, make a plan and get to the Gibraltar early in the morning. We took it a little more casually and strolled along the trails. When you get to the top of the gondola ride, make sure to walk out on the observation deck and look over the edge to see the cliff that divides the island and where sea birds hang on to the winds that come over the cliff. Of course, seeing the Barbary macaques that make Gibraltar their home is a thrill after learning about them as children in National Geographic.

 

Lodging: Ohtel Campo de Gibraltar, €79, parking at hotel. Address: Príncipe de Asturias (10 minute walk to border of Gibraltar). Phone: (+34) 956 178 213  Good hotel to access Gibraltar at a decent price and not have to take a car into Gibraltar. It’s easy to walk across the border – but if you want your passport stamped you have to ask!

Meals:  Lunch: Picnic along the drive.  Dinner: Three Owls (British pub).

 

Day 24: Travel Gibraltar to Ronda

Activities: Drive to Ronda.

(One activity that we didn’t do this time, but would recommend: Visit cave drawings, http://www.cuevadelapileta.org/textos_archivos/visita.htm Reserves: Tel: +34 687 13 33 38.)

In Ronda, visited bull ring. I’m not a fan of this sport, but it’s an interesting piece of culture and history.

Lodging: Hotel Enfrente Arte, in new town – steep hike to get to town center, €176 for 2 nights, free drinks, interesting hotel with art and ambiance, outstanding breakfast, free internet, park on street, free beverages from bar including wine and coffee anytime. Excellent – highly recommend!

Meals: Lunch: Duquesa da Parcent – sit outside on balcony with view of gorge. Dinner: snacks at hotel.

 

Day 25: Ronda

The Puente Nuevo (new bridge) in Ronda, Spain, is made of brick and spans a crevasse with a small river below. The bridge has a large, high arch. We are looking at the bridge from the west side of it. On the other side of the crevasse is a white and grey cliff with shrubs in patches. Above, on the other side of the bridge, are white three-story buildings with grey roofs. There are mountains in the distance.
Puente Nuevo in Ronda, Spain

Activities: Visit La Mina de Agua (Water Mine). This is an opportunity to get to the bottom of the gorge by taking the stairs of this historical structure. The site also has a beautiful garden. Hike to bridge viewpoint, Mirador puente nuevo de Ronda, and then walk the path under the Puente Nuevo. This is a fun exploration – most people don’t take the path that takes you under the bridge. Watch your footing in some places!

 

Meals:  Dinner: Bar Simpecado on  the Socorro plaza at the Nuestra Señora del Socorro church. Restaurant wasn’t great, but the atmosphere of sitting on the plaza at the end of the day was lovely.

 

Day 26: Travel Ronda to Granada

The doorway to the Hammam Al Ándalus Baños (Arab baths) in Granada. On the right is an open doorway with stairs in the background. On the left is the sign identifying Hammam and a bench.
Hammam Al Ándalus Baños (Arab baths)

Activities: Drive from Ronda to Granada. Pick up Alhambra tickets we had ordered ahead of time at a machine in town. Spent the evening at the Hammam Al Ándalus Baños (Arab baths). If you haven’t been to an Arab bath before, make sure to do this. Bring your swimsuit and follow their instructions for an enjoyable and relaxing experience dipping into another culture.

Lodging: Hotel Inglaterra. Calle Cettie Meriem 6, 18010 Granada Telephone: 0034958221559, reservas@hotel-inglaterra.es, $188.27  for two nights. Choose a room on top floor because it was quiet. Parking at city underground car park nearby for $18.

Meals: Lunch: Tapas at Rosario Varela. Dinner: Tapas and drinks at Bodega La Mancha, a bar next to our hotel.

 

Day 27: Granada

Looking through a Moorish carved stone double arch at the Alhambra. The carvings are intricate, with floral designs bordered by striped graphics. In the background is a tile-roofed building with a dormer and pink walls. The sky is a bright blue contrast.
Moorish arch at the Alhambra

Activities: Walking tour including Cathedral, little cathedral, local neighborhood. And then – Visit Alhambra! Alhambra is a must-see – one of the most memorable cultural sites you will ever visit. Book your tickets months in advance. Most travel sites recommend that you get morning tickets, but since those were all sold out when we ordered our tickets, we got tickets for the afternoon. Allow time to hit all the features, and end your visit strolling the dreamy gardens until you are completely exhausted.

Meals: Lunch: Picnic sandwiches purchased in town and taken up to Alhambra. Dinner: Tapas at Bodegas Castaneda where we offered another couple to join us at our table.

 

Day 28: Travel Granada to Madrid

Activities: Drive to Madrid. This is an easy drive with beautiful landscapes. Drop off rental car at Plaza de Espana in Madrid.

Lodging: VRBO: Puerta del Sol – Royal Palace, https://www.vrbo.com/6571856ha     Address: Mesón de Paños nº 5, 1ºC, 28013 Madrid. The nearest Metro Station is Opera, just 150 m away.

Meals: Lunch: rest stop. Dinner: Tapas at Mercado de San Miguel. Then tapas at a couple places along Calle Cava Baja just south of Plaza Mayor – a great street to stroll and pick a few places for tapas.

 

Day 29: Madrid

A white coffee cup with saucer and spoon on the left of the cup. The cup is filled with thick hot chocolate. The table is white and grey marble and there is another white plate and spoon in the background.
Hot chocolate at San Ginés Chocolateria in Madrid

Activities: Hot chocolate at San Ginés Chocolateria. Yum!! Visit Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Prado Museums. The Thyssen came highly recommended for good reason. We really enjoyed the 19th century collections and could have spent much more time there. The Prado was something I had looked forward to for years – since I had become a Rubens fan while living in Belgium. The Prado definitely lives up to its reputation as one of the great art collections. My poor husband was completely exhausted after a couple of hours at the Prado!

Meals: Lunch: Restaurant near Prado. Dinner: Refra (near apt.)

 

Day 30: Madrid

Jamon at Toma Jamon Tabernas Espanolas in Madrid
Carving jamon at Toma Jamon Tabernas Espanolas in Madrid

Activities: Royal Palace of Madrid and Temple of Debod (Egyptian crypt).  Both are worth seeing, but after awhile a palace is just another palace. So spoiled and jaded.

Meals:  Lunch: Toma Jamon Tabernas Espanolas, near palace. Dinner: Tabernilla Sancho Panza (near apt.)

 

 

Day 31: Travel Madrid to Barcelona

Activities: Took an Uber from apartment to train station (Madrid-Puerta de Atocha). (Uber is a good option in Madrid and Lisbon but not even available in Barcelona!) Stowed bags at baggage check and then walked to Museo Nactional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. This is the modern art museum and, let’s just say, we are NOT modern art lovers – even with the Picassos.

Train from Madrid to Barcelona. AVE train, standard class, brought a picnic.

For more information about the trains, go here and here.

 

Lodging:  VRBO, https://www.vrbo.com/6686406ha, great little apartment for a very reasonable price. I highly recommend this great and affordable apartment!

Meals: Lunch: Sandwiches on train. Dinner: We stopped at a brewpub and it was terrible. Stick with the wine and vermut!

 

Day 32: Barcelona

Activities: Gaudi’s BarcelonaFor details about our visit to Barcelona, see . Casa Batllo and Casa Mila. This was my introduction to Gaudi. Go to both and do the audio tours. Gaudi was a genius and there is nothing like his work anywhere else in Europe. It helps if you already have an understanding and appreciation of Art Nouveau.

Meals: Lunch: Pastry Mauri (pastry shop near Casa Mila – has sandwiches and decadent pastries!)  Dinner: Sopa Boba. Good tapas and great service.

 

Day 33: Barcelona

Activities: Rick Steves podcast walking tour, including La Rambla and the Cathedral of Barcelona. Then took at taxi to Park Guell. Park Guell is another Gaudi masterpiece. Take your time to wander and enjoy.

Meals: Lunch: Mercat De Santa Llucia, ate at a tapas bar. Dinner: Betlem Miscelanea Gastronomica (restaurant next to apartment).

 

Day 34: Barcelona

Facade of the Sagrada Familia by Gaudi in Barcelona. The Sagrada Familia cathedral is concrete colored and is ornate in a way that makes it look like a melting cake. There are 4 towers that are rounded cylinders with many openings in vertical columns. There are two doors at the entrance to the cathedral with statues of various biblical figures above the doors.
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Activities: Sagrada Familia. Had accidentally bought tickets for wrong day (surprise!), so went to ticket office. Found a tour company representative who was able to put us on a guided tour (for twice what we paid for our original tickets – but at least we got in and got to see the Cathedral!) Totally worth it! This was the perfect way to wrap up our Gaudi tour.

Meals: Dinner: Cerveceria Catalana, Carrer de Mallorca, 236, very good tapas for a reasonable price, but long lines so go early or in the mid-afternoon.

 

Day 35: Travel Barcelona to Majorca

Activities: Fly to Majorca on Vueling Airlines. Pick up rental car from Budget.

Lodging: At a friend’s house in Cala Murada.

 

Day 36: Majorca

Activities: Hike along coast. Find paths anywhere and enjoy the flowers!

Meals: Dinner: Restaurant ca’n Perello.

 

Day 37: Majorca

Activities: Drive to town to find kayaking but none available. Scheduled cave trip for the next day. Drove through farmland (which is as quaint as can be!) to Parc natural de Mondrago and hiked. Beautiful beaches at the Parc!

Meals: Ice cream at Creperia Glateria Es Cucurutxo Portocolom.  Picnic at: Punta des Jonc.  Late Lunch at Restaurant Sa Font de n’Alis, at the nature park.

 

Day 38: Majorca

Activities: Cave tour with Skualo Portocolom (boat ride to cave where we got in water and walked through the cave, using flashlights – great fun!)  Hike along cliffs.

 

Day 39: Majorca

A dry-stacked stone wall in the foreground with shrubs in front of the wall. Photo is taken from a hillside In the distance is a lake (reservoir) and rocky mountains beyond the lake.
View from Ruta de Pedra en Sec

Activities: Driving tour to east coast. Visited the market in the town of Inca, which was colorful and had a very local flavor. The we drove to the east and hiked at Morro de Cuber up to pass on the Ruta de Pedra en Sec (Dry-stone Route). A good hike with long views. Stopped at IKEA on the way home, because – IKEA.

 

Meals: Lunch: McDonalds (don’t judge – it was a cultural experience). Dinner: Pizza from Restaurant ca’n Perello.

 

Day 40: Majorca

Activities:  Drove to town to get allergy medicines and groceries. Hiked to beach.

Meals: Late lunch: Restaurante Es Moli D’En Sopa. Very sophisticated presentation, but the food was far too rich and made both of us very sick. Only place on the entire trip to make us sick!

 

Day 41: Majorca

Activities:  Kayaking at beach in Cala Murada. Kayaking anywhere is a good thing.

Meals: Lunch: Restaurante Cala Murada. Dinner: Cafe Bistrot 29 in Cala Murada (note: get a table on the back patio – we made the mistake of taking a table on the street out front.)

 

Day 42: Majorca

Activities:  Supposed to leave but stayed an extra day due to missed flight (hint: double and triple confirm every flight through various methods!)

Walk along shore from Cala Murada to Cala Domingos.

Meals: Late afternoon snack at Restaurante Cala Murada. Evening snack at Restaurant ca’n Perello.

 

Day 43: Travel Majorca to Zurich

Activities: Visited prehistoric ruins: S’ Hospitalet Vell, on the Carr. de Cales de Mallorca between Ma-4014 and Cales de Mallorca. The ruins are very well explained on signs and the entire site is a pleasant walk. Then we walked Cala Bota, which takes you to a nice cove (parking is marked on Google Maps as “Parking calo des moro” or “camino para aparcar cala virgili”).

Fly to Zurich on the way to Copenhagen but flight was too late to catch the flight to Copenhagen, so the airline put us up overnight in lovely Switzerland.

 

Day 44: Travel Zurich to Copenhagen

Activities: Fly to Copenhagen. Train from Airport to city center. Check in to hotel. Walk to boat tour of canals. The boat tour is a wonderful way to see Copenhagen. Did part of Rick Steve’s Walking Tour (on the way to the Tivoli Gardens). Evening at Tivoli, which is one of the world’s great amusement parks, but very pricey!

Boat Tour: Netto-Badene Boat Tours, Buy tickets and board at Holmens Kirke (across from Borsen), Adult: €6, Child: €3, https://www.havnerundfart.dk/canaltours/index.php?page=forside.php, Much cheaper than the other company and it’s the same tour route. Remember to BYOB – you can bring a snack and beverage. We noticed a group from Canada pull out their wine and beers – fortunately we had plenty of time to run to a nearby shop to get some for ourselves!

Walking Tour: We did part of the Rick Steves walking tour – backwards from the Holmens Kirke (where the canal boat tour dropped us off), past the Absalon Equestren Estatue, to the Stork Fountain (Storkespringvandet) (make sure to stop at the toilets underground just west of the Stork Fountain – very historic), then along Stroget (the shopping street) and up to Grabrodretorv, and to Det lille Apotek for an early dinner.

Tivoli: Very expensive. Ride one of the rides. Have a snack and beverage and then see the laser light show (free, by ponds on east side of park) just before closing time.

Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park. At the front of the scene is a man-made pond surrounded by shrubs and yellow flowers. There are three rowboats on the pond with a person in each boat. Beyond the pond is a roller coaster with a loop. To the right of the roller coaster is an Asian pagoda. Trees frame the photo on each side.
Tivoli Gardens

Lodging:  Hotel Savoy, Vesterbrogade 34. Phone: +4533267500. $692.04 (for 4 nights, but we missed the first two nights because of a missed flight), breakfast included – good but crowded and busy.

Meals: Lunch: Lagkagehuset at train station (a bakery with sandwiches and “danish.”)  Dinner: Det lille Apotek (classic Danish cuisine, restaurant founded in 1720, frequented by H.C. Andersen).

 

Day 45: Copenhagen

Activities: More of the Rick Steve’s walking tour, National Museum of Denmark (our attempt to learn more about ancient Danish history), Christiania (hippie town), walked along Nyhavn, pedicab back to hotel (because I had fallen and hurt myself – the pedicab was a great splurge with our last Danish kroner!), last dinner out.

Meals: Lunch: Diamanten, on Gammel Strand near National Museum. Dinner: Restaurant Gorilla (in old packing district). Go check out the trendy restaurants in the packing district!

 

Day 46: Copenhagen and flight home

Activities: Walk on trails around Sankt Jorgens So. Flight home.

 

Hints:

  • When in Portugal, even in a nice restaurant you’ll see prices for wine on the menu and assume that they are for a glass of wine (7 euros, 10 euros, etc.) They aren’t – they prices are for a bottle of wine! Confirm just to be sure, but you’ll be shocked and delighted at how inexpensive wine is. Watch out – we gained weight from the cheap and excellent wine and pastries.
  • Notify your credit and debit card companies of all of your travel before you leave.
  • For navigation in a rental car, you have several choices. You can rent a GPS, which seems like a rip-off when you compare it to the daily cost of using data on your mobile plan (which you can also use for other purposes like posting photos or communicating back home.)
  • Mobile chip – unlock phone. Get your chip in a big city. Don’t waste your time trying to work this out in a smaller city.
  • To save money and time, stay longer in fewer places. Look for VRBO deals, use your airline and hotel points, and find those hidden gems through www.tripadvisor.com!

 

All photos on this blog are mine and my copyright. To see more photos, go to: https://laurahoeppnerimages.smugmug.com/

One thought on “Our 2017 Europe Itinerary: Munich, Portugal, Spain and Copenhagen

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