Heat Wave 2015: Spain & Portugal

I wish I had blogged about our last year’s trip to Spain and Portugal sooner but blogging wasn’t really part of my priorities back then. Now, nine months later, I am trying to gather all the photos we have taken, checking my journal to refresh my memory, and collecting our invoices from that trip for the prices of our activities to share it all with you.

Planning

At the start of 2015, and by that I mean literally on New Year’s Day, we have chosen our summer getaway destinations, picked out the dates, and booked our flights. The plan was to leave for Barcelona and come back from Lisbon two weeks later. Then we hit the maps to find some other cities between these two that we can check out along the way. So that day we had come up with these cities, and in this order:

Barcelona → Valencia → Madrid → Lisbon

That was the easy part, though. The hard part was, of course, the waiting game! Waiting seven months for a holiday was just dreadful but, on the bright side, we’ve had enough time to organise everything else like transfer from city to city, accommodation, and the like. Also, knowing you have something to look forward to has helped a LOT.

Outline

July 16-20, 2015 – left for Barcelona from Berlin SXF with EasyJet. Booked a private room via Airbnb for four nights (but ended up having the place to ourselves because our host was away). Airbnb 92 € for 4 nights / EasyJet flight – 133,58 € for two BER – BCN

July 20-23, 2015 – left for Valencia via ALSA Bus (ca. 4h bus ride). Booked a private room via Airbnb – 51 € for 3 nights / ALSA bus ride – 20,- € each

July 23-26, 2015 – left for Madrid with Avanza Bus (ca. 4h bus ride). Booked a private room via Airbnb – 58 € for 3 nights / Avanza bus ride – 29,75 € each

July 26-27, 2015 – left for Lisbon via Renfe Trenhotel (night train, ca. 10h 30m ride). Standard tourist bed in cabin for 4 people 37,80 € per person.

July 27-28, 2015 – Arrived in Lisbon. Booked a hotel room with shared bathroom for three nights – 40 € per night. Ended up canceling after first night without refund.

July 28-30, 2015 – Rented a car and drove to Sintra. Booked a private room via Airbnb (more like a suite for we had our own bathroom, and the place had a garden and swimming pool). Car: 165,- € for 3 days. Airbnb – 112,- € for 2 nights.

July 30-31, 2015 (night) – watched a movie until around 3:00 AM then went to the airport and stayed there until it was time for the first flight out back to Berlin SXF.

The highlights of each city can be found in individual post with the links below:

Barcelona → Valencia → Madrid → Lisbon

Madrid

July 23, 2015

We were up for another bus ride and, this time, it was headed towards the nation’s capital, Mardrid!

Bus ride València – Madrid per person via Avanzabus: 29,75 €
4h ride

We arrived at our Airbnb sometime in the afternoon and our host was nice and friendly. Her name is Pilar, and she just set the bar so high! We booked another private room but she actually made sure we had everything we needed, and more!

Also, this:

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We took a lot of showers, obviously.

We were just really tired from not getting enough sleep the nights before so we just rested and called it a day.

Airbnb private room 10 mins away from Palacio Real for three nights: 68,- €

July 24, 2015

We didn’t have anything special planned for this day so we just walked around a little bit and bought some stuff that we needed. In the afternoon we decided to see a movie because I guess we were just tired of being tourists for the past week and a half so we did something locals would do on a day like this.

July 25, 2015

I guess we just felt so at home in Madrid that we even forgot that we were to leave the next day! Pilar had to remind us that our booking had only one night left so we rushed to do something out of our stay. And, quite obviously, we had to hit the Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid). We had hoped to come here on Monday afternoon for free entrance but since we will be gone by then, we were forced to pay for the entrance fee.

Entrance fee per person: 10,- €
Check out free rate conditions on their website.
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Palacio Real

After that, we went to Real Jardìn Botànico (Royal Botanical Garden), mostly because I like plants. And it was pretty fascinating to me.

Entrance fee (per person): 4,- €
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I mean, these Agaves are taller than me.
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And we met this little critter on his siesta.

Abanicos

Walking around town, you will find many a souvenir shops selling fans much like this one for 4 € to 6 € a piece. But, if you look long and hard enough, you will find some vendors selling them for 2 € each! Just try to explore around and do take your time. I easily took ten of them home. They also come in many different colours and designs.

July 26, 2015

We said our goodbyes to our lovely Airbnb host and went ahead to Chamartin train station to leave our luggage in a locker. We still had the whole day to stroll around because our train wasn’t leaving until 10PM and we just didn’t want to take so much stuff with us. Pilar has told us about the Teleférico so we checked that one out. It’s basically just a cable car that takes you from the city to Casa de Campo Park in a ten-minute ride. The view, of course, is amazing. They let you out at the park where you can stay for a picnic or just some siesta time before heading back.

Teleférico ride (per person): 5,60 €
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Manzanares River

Misfortune

We finally went back to Chamartin station and just had dinner there and waited for our train. Just around 45 minutes before our train was scheduled to leave, Joan sent me to the ATM to withdraw some cash but the machine asked for some six-digit pin from me which I didn’t have because I was only familiar with the four-digit pin (it’s still a mystery to us what the machine even wanted from me) so, unsure, I canceled the transaction but the machine refused to give me the card back! Which is bad enough if it happens to you in your own city, but how much more in a strange city you were supposed to be leaving in less than an hour! So we had to make do with the cash we still had left and withdrew some cash from another card in another city. All that stress, though!

Trenhotel

Taking the night train was something we had yet to try. We were placed in a room for four females to sleep on our bunk beds and to wake up in a different city. It was a fun experience and we met this girl who was in the cabin with us whose name we’ve never gotten but she was very friendly and we got to talk a lot about politics and history and life. Now, the great thing about taking this train was the combination of transportation and a night’s accommodation. It’s something we would love to do again if it’s available in any of our next travels.

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It’s not much but what more do you need for a night’s sleep AND transfer, amiright?
Renfe Trenhotel tourist bed for one night per person: 37,80 €
Madrid to Lisbon

Next stop → Lisbon!

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Couldn’t resist having my own dog tag made by a machine at Chamartin train station
Dogtag: 5,- €