Off to Portugal

So we started our morning by going back into Merida to see a few things. We hadn’t realized the museum in town wasn’t covered on our ticket, so we decided to skip it and went to the Alcazaba (basically fortress) in town instead. We enjoyed looking out at the city, seeing the Roman bridge looking beautiful in the morning light. The fortress itself was cool too. Walls you could climb up on, and this awesome tunnel that led into the depths of the fortress with a pool of goldfish at the bottom. All in all very fun.

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Our last stop in Merida was to an aqueduct on the outskirts of town. It wasn’t Pont du Gard by any means, but it was very fun with its ruined state. And besides, the storks from town had all built nests along it which was very cool to see.

Once wed finished with pictures we set out on our drive to our next country. My family decided to be a bit crazy in our travels and visit… 6 countries. Insanity I tell you. So the next on the list was Portugal.

We stopped in Evora for lunch. Since the weather was beautiful we settled for having a picnic outside. It was sunny and lovely and there was even a random peacock strutting about trying to get some of our food.


After our picnic was over, we went and wandered around the town a bit. There was a Roman temple that we wanted to see, and otherwise we just enjoyed the sunshine and pretty architecture of churches and other buildings.

Once we were satisfied that we’d seen enough of Evora for the day we set off on the road again, stopping to see some megalithic structures nearby known as the Almendres Cromlech. Most people know of Stonehenge, but some people might not be aware that there are lots of other monoliths, dolmens, and groups of menhirs all over Europe that are similar in terms of their size and debatable function. For any who find this really fascinating, I’d recommend seeing Carnac in France. There are so many stones it’s amazing.

However, these ones were also quite interesting. It’s impressive to look at the massive size of these rocks and imagine ancient peoples finding them and erecting them in these strange formations.

We took a few photos with the menhirs and then were on our way again, off towards Lisbon.

Of course, we arrived in Lisbon in afternoon traffic, so it was difficult to get to our hotel, and even more difficult finding parking. Nonetheless we did settle in at the Pensao Londres which had a classic old hotel feel with a good location.

We dropped our things off and relaxed a bit before setting off for dinner that evening. We ate at the Bota Alta, which had delicious foods that we all enjoyed. My brother and I both had stuffed meat (think cordon bleu) and my dad had a more traditional cod dish, which my mom just had a steak. All of it was delicious and we appreciated having a nice filling meal before setting off to walk around the city a bit.

We had hoped to find pastries, but the problem is the Portuguese eat late enough that most bakeries are closed after you’re done with dinner. So we just settled for seeing a little of the city. My favorite was running across the oldest bookshop in the world, which is something that had me squealing in delight. If there had been a book I really wanted there in English I would have bought it for sure to appease my happy book collecting self. However, nothing really stuck out.


We walked back up an incredible number of steps to get back up to our hotel. Be warned that Lisbon is a very hilly city. You will walk up and down a lot to see anything.


Well, a good night’s rest would do us good for the coming day.

Seville, Santa Olalla del Cala, and Merida- See as much of Spain as you can

So the next day we started off by getting up early to go find some coffee and pastries. We then decided to go see some more of Seville before taking off. We started off by seeing a part of the university that used to be an old tobacco factory. It was very beautiful.


Then there was the Plaza de España. You might recognize it from Star Wars. It’s a beautiful square regardless of any film attachments you may or may not have, so be sure to visit if you’re in town.

Afterwards it was off to the Cathedral. We had to figure out the confusing entry system, which took a while. Apparently if you have reserved tickets or are with a group you go in one entrance, and the rest go in another. The signs are very unclear, so just be warned it might take a little bit to figure out.

We went inside the cathedral, enjoying its huge size and beautiful decorations. My brother had already been there, so he told us some things he’d learned on his tour years before. My favorite was the story of the picture of Saint Anthony that was stolen years earlier and then eventually found. Apparently Saint Anthony is the patron saint of lost things. We also saw Christopher Columbus’s grave and we climbed up the huge bell tower to enjoy a view of the city. Over all, it was a very fun visit. I highly encourage seeing it if you’re in Seville.

After that we grabbed our things from the hotel and headed on our way.

We stopped in Santa Olalla del Cala which had a beautiful castle on the hill. As we’ve often found traveling in Europe, the roads to it were not well marked. So we ended up driving down a steep rocky road before realizing it was a dead end and having to drive back up. Finally we found the right road and parked to go see the castle.


It was closed. As far as I can tell it’s not open to the public, but who knows. Maybe it is during the summer. Regardless it was fun to see. I will never tire of seeing castles. They are truly amazing.

After that we continued on our way until we reached Merida.

My father had booked a Casa Rural. We’d done this before, and really enjoyed it. Basically it’s sort of B and B like, where you stay in someone’s home in the country. It’s nice to get away from the big commercial hotels for a while and enjoy some real hospitality from the people of the country you’re in. Sure enough, our hosts welcomed us in and showed us up to our lovely rooms.

After we had dropped our stuff off we set off by car to the center of Merida where there were a variety of Roman ruins.

Merida is especially famous for the Roman theater which is surprisingly intact. I’ve seen lots of Roman ruins over the years traveling through Europe, but I have to admit the theater was quite impressive considering how old it is. We wandered through that and the amphitheater there before setting out to see other things. The ticket we bought allows you to see several of the Roman things in town, which is a good deal. So if you’re sticking around Merida be sure to check it out.

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We headed down to see the temple next, which is open to the public. And then we walked down to the river and enjoyed the Roman bridge there.


It was cold, however, so we went to Burger King to grab some drinks before our restaurant was open. I have to say, I’ve never seen a dirtier Burger King in my life. Apparently people in the town didn’t understand that you needed to bus your own dishes. So the tables were littered with trash. Just a cultural difference I suppose. Although hey, I’ve seen people being inconsiderate all over the world, so it’s one thing that I’d say is sadly universal.

After that we walked around the main square a little and the little Christmas market and then headed to our restaurant. It was called La Taberna de Sole and featured a lot of meat dishes. I had lamb chops essentially. They weren’t necessarily my favorite, but I made do. Something about eating meat off the bone often makes me feel kind of uncomfortable. Times I think I could become a vegetarian. However, dessert more than made up for it for me. I had hazelnut ice cream. It was absolutely delicious. My father had a sort of dessert soup as well and that was equally amazing. So yes, overall quite good and would definitely recommend.

We headed back to our hotel for the night after that. Over all, a very good day exploring!