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Portugal and W. Spain Itinerary, April 2015: Your comments?

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I'm looking for fellow travelers' advice and recommendations for an upcoming trip.

A few words about us: Older married couple, interested in architecture, history, art and food (like most folks here). I like countryside, villages and small towns and strongly prefer to avoid cities, especially as we'll have a car for much of this trip.

We LIKE driving. The first days of every trip tend to be quite kinetic. We generally manage to slow down later in the trip.

We're very interested in your food/ restaurant recommendations. Though our taste in food is catholic, we avoid red meat. I am teetotal -- I mention this as vineyards and wine tasting are a non-starter for us.

This is our second trip to Portugal. Though we originally intended to confine ourselves to one country, we've opted for a detour through Spain's Extremadura region, since it's so close and there is so much of interest to see. We also tagged on 3 nights in Barcelona at the end.

Here's our current plan, on which all comments and suggestions are welcome.

Day 1, arrive Lisbon airport around 11 AM, pick up car.

Drive (probably via Evora, where we stayed last April) to Vila Vicosa.
Booking: 2 nights at Solar dos Mascarenhas

Day 2, Renew our acquaintance with Vila Vicosa, then do a day trip through Alentejo towns -- Beja, Monsaraz, Marvao. Alternatively, drive a northern loop through Portalegre, perhaps even as far as Monsanto.

Day 3, Drive (via Elvas) to Trujillo, Extremadura, Spain. I know we "should" see Merida but I've seen an awful lot of Roman ruins lately (most recently in October -- Ostia Antica and in Puglia). Your views?

End the day in Trujillo: See what we can see of the town in the hours remaining.

We are booked for 2 nights at the Finca Santa Marta, about 15 minutes outside the town. Dinner at the Finca, unless there is a must-try restaurant you can suggest.

Day 4 is primarily for visiting Guadalupe, plus whatever else we can accommodate: either the monastery at Yuste or more time in Trujillo (perhaps we can wander there at nightfall, before dining at the Parador of Trujillo).

I regret that we seem to have no time for a visit to the Parque Monfrague.

Day 5 (a Sunday), Drive to Caceres, park the car and spend the day in the city. One night at a city hotel -- probably the Casa Don Fernando.

Day 6, Drive to Salamanca. If the cherry blossoms are late enough this year (this will be April 13), we could take a small detour through the Valle del Juste. Alternatively, I would be interested in spending a few hours in Plasencia -- Do you recommend?

Two nights in Salamanca, at a place in or near the Old Town that remains to be booked. We're seesawing between a flat and an hotel.

Day 7, Visit Salamanca: I am aware of the big sights but welcome specific recommendations, beyond the cathedral and the Plaza Mayor.

Day 8, Drive back to Portugal and head for the Douro region. We could either take a northern route, passing via Zamora and close to Braganza. This would bring us past Villareal, where we might visit the Mateus estate.

Or we could drive west to Viseu (stopping at Almeida?), then drive north past Lamego to the Douro.

At this point our plans get a bit vague. Provisionally, I've planned to spend 2 nights around Regua on the Douro. Last year we stayed 2 nights at the Quinta da Pacheca outside Regua. This time I think we may stay at a new, very small (3 room) B & B above Regua.

On Day 9, we won't be doing any vineyard visits. But I just loved the countryside when we were there last April; I'd happily take the train from Regua or Pinhao to Pocinho again. Or wander by car, if the weather is fine.

That leaves Days 10 and 11 unallocated. We could spend an extra day in the Douro, then one night somewhere en route to Lisbon. Or we could allocate 2 nights to a spot from which we'd drive to Lisbon on Day 12.

I'd like to visit Coimbra, though it's a rather large city for us to navigate. I'd dearly love to return to Tomar, to the Convento de Cristo.

On Day 12, drive to Lisbon, dropping the car at Lisbon airport and heading into the city in the afternoon. We have booked a flat near the Baixa-Chiado metro (just off the Largo do Carmo) for nights 12, 13 and 14.

On Day 15, shortly after noon, we fly to Barcelona for 3 nights. We've booked a great flat just off the Passeig de Gracia. On our 2 full days in the city, we will close some of the gaps we left last time: We've been to Barcelona only once before (October, 2012) and our 3-4 days that time were far from enough.

I welcome any recommendations for Barcelona, of course, but I feel pretty well stocked with ideas. It's the Extremadura and Alentejo portions of the trip where I feel least assured of my bearings.

Your thoughts?

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