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Trip Report Spain/Portugal trip report

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Hello, all. I don't usually do trip reports, but the advice I received on this forum was so helpful, I wanted to post one this time.

We arrived on Thursday morning, Oct. 4, and started with two days in Madrid, a city we love very much. We mostly just strolled around, checking out our favorite areas, mainly in the center city -- Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, etc. Our hotel, Hotel Quatro Puerta del Sol, was excellent in every regard (at least on our budget). Great location, helpful staff, nice room, good wifi.

Then on Saturday, we went to the airport to get our rental car. We were feeling bleary from the night before and weren't looking forward to taking three subways to get there. The hotel guy got us a private car for 20 euros -- we'll worth it, in our opinion, since the subway would have been 10 euros.

We drove to Salamanca and stayed one night. We really loved this city. Our M.O. Is to just walk, walk, walk, seldom spending the money or time to go into places. This city was perfect for that. The plaza mayor was beautiful. We had dinner at a much cheaper place just off the square. (Again, we're cheap!) We had another excellent hotel, the Hotel Silken Rona Dalba.

Off the next day, Sunday, for three days in Lisbon. Driving, by the way, was no problem. We parked at the airport, thanks to Ulyses for his advice on that, and it was very easy, once we found the long-term lot and figured out how to get a ticket!

Our hotel was on the Avenida del Liberdad, Hotel Dom Sancho I. We were very disappointed. Granted, it was cheap, and the location was good. But there was no free wi-if, which is OK. But then we were dismayed to find that they charge for using the room safe!

This nickel-and-diming seemed to be prevalent in Lisbon. But again, we love Madrid, and we couldn't help but compare them. Maybe this isn't fair to Lisbon, but it's the impression we got. I regret that I hadn't gone back to look at the advice from Ulysses about dining in the Bairro Alto, because we ended up each night in the Restauradores area, and we didn't find much to like.

We took the small-group day trip to Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais, again on Ulysses' excellent advice, and loved it very much. I know there is much more to see in Sintra, but this was just right for us. We also very much enjoyed going to the Alfama on our last night. We paid (!) to go to the palace, and it was incredible.

Then, it was back in the car for one night in Caceres. On the way, we happened by Elvas and got off the highway to check it out. Well worth the extra time.

Caceres was pretty cool. We spent an hour and a half -- really -- driving in circles and looking for our hotel. Nobody's fault (except maybe the GPS lady's), but it put us in a bad frame of mind.

The hotel, NH Palacio de Oquendo, again was excellent. The location couldn't have been better, and the hotel was quite nice. We had an air-conditioning problem that made it hard to sleep, but they made up for it by paying for our parking, not charging for the minibar drinks and discounting the rate, so we left satisfied.

Then, back to Madrid for our final two days. Friday was Columbus Day (there called Day of the Americas), and we were pleased to discover that it's a very big deal there. Huge parade (I'm pretty sure we saw the king, or at least his car), people everywhere. It was our last day, and we considered dropping our plans to go to the Escorial, but I'm very glad we didn't. Just spectacular.

By the way, we found a favorite restaurant near Puerta del Sol, called Fatigas de Querer, or something like that.

All said, an excellent trip. If we were to do it over again, we might have explored taking trains rather than renting a car because it was quite expensive, especially considering that we left it at the Lisbon airport for three days. And we probably won't go back to Lisbon, but I'm quite glad that we checked it out.

Thanks to all of you who helped with advice.

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