Spain and Portugal
September 16 - October 4, 2014
Click HERE for an overview and my thoughts about the tour versus traveling independently.  Click HERE to skip to Portugal. Continue on this page for a city-by-city account with photos.

It was a long trip to Madrid. First I drove two-and-a-half hours from home to LAX (Los Angeles). Then flights on Lufthansa to Madrid via Frankfurt. I arrived early evening, dropped my bags and headed out. While wandering I came across the Mercado San Miguel. I had read about it -- it's along the lines of Eataly, but smaller. I enjoyed the atmosphere and had a bite to eat there. A cultural difference: Restaurants in Spain open for dinner between 8pm and 9pm. Too late for me. Tapas, on the other hand, were available in many places and were served early. No wonder tapas are so popular in Spain!

I spent my first night at Hotel Room Mate Mario, around the corner from where I'd be staying with the tour. The hotel had good reviews on Tripadvisor and I have to agree. It was a bit quirky, quiet and comfortable with a price of only 117 euros (euros were going for about $1.25 while on the trip) including a buffet breakfast. For those checking out the website, the hunky guy on the first screen was not included with the room.