Friday, June 23, 2017

Portugal and back to Spain

Porto was a really nice place once we got settled into the hotel and we were looking forward to our next stop Lisbon.
What I thought was a palace was actually the Bank of Portugal!
Lisbon is another 200 miles further south of Porto and it was really hot there with temperatures hitting the 100's. We camped outside the city and took a cab into the center. Walking around soon got tiring and we did the "Hop on Hop off" bus but only the "Castle Line" that stayed in the center of the city. We have figured out that the longer (More expensive) tours just go to the outskirts of the cities without bringing you too much more of interest. It's a case of "stretch it out for a couple of hours to justify the cost"
A very imposing statue, with snakes all around his horse?
We got off the bus at the big castle that overlooks the city, the bus doesn't actually take you TO the castle. You have to climb quite a long way thru the tiny narrow streets that are closed off to vehicle traffic.
Steep narrow streets up to Castle San Jorge

Beautiful castle with lots of Moorish features

Looking down on Lisbom

Castle San Jorge was a nice place and brought home the history of Spain and Portugal which were conquered by the "Moors" in 790. The term "Moors" is a generalization for the Muslims who took over most of this Iberian Peninsular and stayed until around 1100. They brought amazing architecture as well as modern writing, arithmetic and more. I have always liked the architecture, I'm sure I'll be drawing and painting some soon.
Lots of boats

Antique Street Cars

And "Tuk Tuk's" everywhere for the tourists

A couple of days was enough, and we drove south again 300 miles back into Spain to the city of Seville.

On the way the van started to misbehave. The clutch started making weird noises and we couldn't get the transmission into 1st gear. When we slowed down the exit the freeway it began shaking like a wheel was loose or something! And it was Sunday.
Seville's cathedral
We stayed the night in a campground about 30 minutes outside Seville and on Monday morning the campground manager pointed us to a repair place just across the street. They could fix the van but parts would take a day to arrive and it would probably be Wednesday before they had it fixed. We left it with them, unloaded our stuff and made reservations for 2 nights in a hotel smack in the center of town, WITH AIR CONDITIONING! Why? Because the temperatures were going to be 105 degrees and higher most of the week...
Originally the prayer tower for the Moorish Mosque now the bell tower for the cathedral

More Castle walls in Seville

The hotel turned out to be just across the plaza from the world famous Cathedral. The city was teeming with tourists from all over the world, big parties of Japanese and Chinese and visitors from all over Europe. Sitting in a sidewalk cafe eating dinner we talked to a couple from Wisconsin, then an English girl and her Australian boyfriend, Asia and Nick. They said we ought to have a blog and we asked them if they wanted to be in it, so here are Asia and Nick!!
Asia and Nick say HI!!
We spent a morning wandering the cathedral but were driven back to the hotel by the afternoon heat. Now we know why they have the siesta. People stay in the cool until the evening then come out to eat at night. The sidewalk cafes are crowded at 9pm and stay that way. We left one at 11.30pm and it was still crowded when we left.
The city after dark is perhaps even nicer

Sidewalk cafes serving Tapas all night

Paella, our favorite
The van needed a new clutch actuating bracket and 2 tires to get it roadworthy but the gearbox was another thing. The dealer had a 3 month guarantee on all their vehicles and when I called them they told me I'd have to get a written estimate before they could approve any work. Not speaking Spanish made that difficult.

Then out of the blue some UK friends called and said they had a holiday home about an hour outside Granada and why didn't we come stay with them and they'd help us sort it out.
Ken and Angie our friends from WAY BACK!
Using 2nd gear to get going we made it to Ken and Angie's.

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