We embarked on the two longest drives of our honeymoon to make a visit to Portugal. On the way, we made a stop in the city of Salamanca for an evening.
Salamanca is considered one of the most important university cities in Spain. It is said to supply 16% of the country’s market for teaching the Spanish language, which attracts thousands of international students. The University of Salamanca is the oldest in Spain and third oldest in the world.
We stayed at the Hostal Granada, which was a quaint hotel operated by a super sweet family. Since we only had the one evening in town, the owners showed us the most popular attractions and helped us map out a sightseeing plan.
This was one of the first Spanish cities where we experienced the siesta. The climate was starting to warm up as we headed south, so the locals would hole up inside until almost sunset. Then everyone would come out around 8 p.m. to have dinner and sit out in cafes.
The city, and specifically its old city district, had many historic attractions, some that dated to Roman times. Three of our favorite were Plaza Mayor (the center of the city and considered one of the most beautiful plazas in Europe), an old Roman road bridge (of its arches, fifteen were built by the Romans in the 1st century BC) and, last but not least, the façade of the University of Salamanca.
Tourists and students alike come to the façade to search for a hidden frog, which is said to bring good luck to those who find it. There was a special anniversary event going on where you could ride a long elevator close to the façade and look for it. But our kind hotel owners gave us a hint, so Drew and I found it without having to pay for a ride.
After exploring, we headed back to the hotel to get a good night’s rest and prepare for another long car ride the next day. Watch out Portugal! Here we come!
We made our way to Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. We stayed at the Lisboa Central Hostel, which had friendly owners and amazing room keys.
We had two days in Lisbon, so we purchased tourist bus tickets, the ones where you can get on and off an unlimited amount of times, so we could fit in as many sights as possible.
According to our tour bus recording, and paraphrased from Wikipedia, Lisbon is the westernmost large city located in continental Europe, as well as its westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries. Also, everyone we encountered spoke perfect English.
One of my (Jini’s) favorite snacks of our entire trip was in Lisbon at Pastéis de Belém. I even talked Drew into making a return trip the next day. Benisko korei . The pastéis is a small, egg-tart pastry first created in the 18th century by Catholic monks at the nearby Jerónimos Monastery. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon, then pair with a Coke for absolute perfection.
We also ate delicious seafood while in Lisbon. Mmmm.
While it might not make everyone’s must-see European bucket list, Lisbon was a worthwhile excursion. We enjoyed our time in Portugal and would definitely consider a return trip.
As our month-long honeymoon starts to wind down, we turn back toward Spain for the last leg of our journey.