By: Monica Manrique
This summer we made our first trip in a motorhome as a family. My partner and I wanted a vacation where we could take Clara, our dog. Due to chance and destiny, she also joined the trip, Mariano, my 71-year-old father-in-law. So this two-week travel diary, from Barcelona, applies to a fairly wide age range and with a pet included.
As an introduction, I will tell you that on the morning of the same day that we began the trip, I was discharged from the hospital where I had been admitted for five days for something called Broken Heart Syndrome or Tako-tsubo. So it was a trip as a result of my “tenacity” (stubbornness) to avoid cancellations, cancellation of reservations, etc. And on the other hand more positive, of acceptance, of change of plans, of modifications in the original route and above all, of a lot of patience and calm with the flow of things, all at a different pace.
Clarify that the days are written on the fly, that’s why I called it a diary. We have written it with two hands, my partner Ana and I.
Day 1, Saturday. Barcelona-Granada
Today has been a very intense day. After planning the trip almost to the millimeter, five days after Monica’s admission to the hospital, we have been able to travel. In the end the four of us have left, Mariano, the dog, my love and I. It has been a very fluid journey, really.
Granada is beautiful, at least at night. We’ll see in the morning. We have arrived at 10:00 p.m. Six glasses of Alhambra (local beer) and six tapas: €18.
Hotel night for the three of them and the dog, €77.34.
We spent a while at the San Nicolás viewpoint, we took some photos and we saw a fire show.
Day 2, Sunday. Granada-Cadiz-Seville-Huelva
How hot! As a summary of what has been lived so far.
Visit to the Alhambra in an express way to be able to get to the hotel for checkout at 12 o’clock, because we had left the dog in the room, which we could not take. The three of us agree that the most beautiful has been the Palace of the Nasrids, brutal. We have very good memories.
Already in Cádiz we have gone for tapas, but we have been left wanting to try the shrimp omelette. We have eaten at the Arsenio Manila restaurant, highly recommended.
As it was very hot, we have not visited anything in Cádiz, except the promenade. Return to the car on the way to Seville to take refuge in the hotel. 43ºC temperature outside, a horror.
Well then, a little rest and a shower at the hotel, to gain strength, and dinner!
We have finally been able to try the shrimp omelette, among other delicacies. And to finish off dinner, a walk with the dog to the Mushrooms of Seville, which were very close to the hotel.
Day 3, Monday. Seville-Huelva
Day of sightseeing in Seville before Lorenzo warms up. We have had breakfast for less than €4 each, with coffee, fresh orange juice, bread with tomato and ham.
For lunch we have decided to try some divine tapas (Al-Aljibe), including rice with a secret, toast with sardines and avocado, and arugula risotto.
We have picked up the motorhome in Seville (the reservation from here was slightly cheaper than in Portugal). And heading to Huelva to stay one night there, where my father-in-law is from. We visit his family and stop to rest and start the trip the next day. What a pleasure to be at home, greetings to the cousins.
Day 4, Mars. Huelva-Portugal-Vila Real-Praia Marinha-Lagos
We didn’t have a good night, between the heat and the excesses, so we got up late and decided to postpone the departure until after lunch. We leave at 3:00 p.m. heading to Portugal. We made a stop in Vila Real to buy sheets and towels, it seems to be a sacred tradition of the Spanish, hehe. The truth is that they are of good quality and have very good prices.
Then we went to Praia Marinha, which, although it had been highly recommended to us, we found a lot of sargassum, with all that that implies. Even so, we rested for a while and then continued to Lagos, where we would sleep.
Super frozen dinner in the pan, in the caravan. We parked in a parking lot of the Pingo Doce supermarket.
Day 5, kids. LagosPraia do Camilo-Praia Dona Anita-Cabo San Vicente-Carrapateira
It’s Ana’s birthday. We went to the Ponta Piedade Lighthouse early in the morning. Then we spend the whole day between two beaches (walking distance), Praia do Camilo and Praia Dona Anita, (to celebrate her birthday 😉).
We have eaten and taken a nap in the camper, blessed luxury, the siesta. We left in time to go see the sunset at Cabo Sao Vicente. It was so windy that we froze, and we had no coat, except for Mariano, proving once again that the devil knows more for being old than for being a devil.
After heading north for half an hour, we arrive in Carrapateira to spend the night, delicious birthday dinner at Micro Bistro Bar.
Day 6, June. Carrapateira-Praia do Amado-Praia Bordeira-Lisbon
We were in what for me were the best two beaches of the entire trip: Praia do Amado and Praia Bordeira. Huge beaches, with perfect waves for those who want to surf or just have fun playing. Dogs allowed in both.
We spent a luxurious morning, then we ate in the caravan and headed to Lisbon to try to get a space in the campsite. Objective achieved. We have gone to Decathlon to buy sweaters and blankets.
Day 7, Friday. Lisbon
We left very early for Sintra, because we had time to visit the Palacio da Pena. Ana has liked it a lot, and Mariano for the first time is surprised by something. I would avoid it in high season. He was bursting. We also visited Quinta da Regaleira.
We returned to Lisbon and went sightseeing in the afternoon. We walked a lot, Lisbon is a very nice and pleasant city, but it is a demanding walk. We ate Bacalao à brás, which had been highly recommended to us. Rich!
Day 8, Saturday. Lisbon-Estoril-Cascais-Óbidos-Nazaré-Aveiro
Today we left very early towards Óbidos, but before that, we decided to visit Estoril and Cascais, and we thought it was very nice. Relaxed walk with the dog and then reeds in the port of Cascais.
Óbidos was a pleasant surprise, because we had no expectations and the truth is that we were pleasantly surprised. It was like a “festival” from the middle ages, with people in costumes, parades, food stalls, live music, all very striking and interesting. We ate at a restaurant called Jamón Jamón, and we dare to recommend it, it was very good, and the service was exceptional.
Then we visited Nazaré, and although it was not the time to see the highest waves in the world, it is a place worth visiting. We walked a bit, ate an ice cream and returned to the caravan in the direction of Aveiro. We spent the night in the parking lot of a supermarket that admits caravans, and also has a place to empty sewage and recharge the water tank.
Day 9, Sunday. Aveiro-Costa Nova-Porto
Today we have changed plans. As yesterday we didn’t get to see anything of Aveiro, today we have spent the day touring the city in the morning. Its canals, seeing the bridges lined with ribbons, everything is very picturesque.
After a mega meal in O Telheiro, delicious, we have set off towards Costa Nova, to see the famous colorful houses. We were walking around and taking some photos. Then, before sunset we have come to Porto, and we have stopped in a paid parking lot to spend the night, the view from the parking lot over the Douro River and two of the most beautiful bridges in the city has left us breathless.
Day 10, Monday. porto
Day to tour Porto from top to bottom. We have had a super guide. Sara, a friend from university, finished her doctorate in Braga and decided to stay and live in Portugal. She has shown us the most emblematic places in the city, of course stopping to try the forceful Francesinha and ending with a tasting of Port in Ramos Pinto. We then took the cable car back uptown and took an Uber back to the campsite.
It is very nice to get to know the places with someone local, who knows the history and can explain the customs and stories of its inhabitants.
Day 11, Tuesday. Port
Today we went out for Porto again. We got up late, we spent the morning calmly at the campsite and then around noon we went out to explore the city. Porto is a beautiful city, so far the one we have liked the most in Portugal. We went to a beautiful bookstore, but so famous that we had to pay €5 to enter. If we knew it would be like this, we would not have visited it.
We ate at Brasão Aliados, a restaurant that had been recommended to us and that we loved. Delicious, abundant and at good prices. The rest of the afternoon we toured other areas of Porto that we had not visited, we bought some souvenirs and ate cod cake.
Dinner at the campsite.
Day 12, kids. Porto-Coimbra-Fatima-Lisbon
We have started the return. We soon left for Coimbra, a university city. We walked its streets, but not its cloister. We came with little time to see this city.
We ate at a university restaurant with very good prices. The food of the three for €30, with drinks. Very good Coimbra.
In the afternoon we have stopped at the Sanctuary of Fatima. A special energy surrounds the whole place.
At night, we parked next to the Tagus river, in Lisbon to spend the night. We walked to the Torre de Belén and there we watched the sunset.
Day 13, Thursday. Lisbon-Huelva
We had missed a bit of Lisbon, so we took advantage of the morning to take some renting motillos and go to visit some outstanding places, such as LX Factory, the Jerónimos Monastery, the Carmo Convent and the Santa Lucía Viewpoint. . Very productive tomorrow. Mariano and the dog stayed in the camper.
In the afternoon we headed back to Spain, stopping at Isla Cristina to dine on fish by weight, in that area you eat very well and very cheaply because it is a fish market.
We have taken advantage of the night to leave fairly collected, since tomorrow we will deliver the caravan.
Day 14, Friday. Huelva-Seville-Cordoba-Valencia
We have gone to Seville very early because we had to deliver the caravan at 11:30 a.m. Then we went to Córdoba to eat Salmorejo and other delicacies, and although our intention was to get to know the city a little, the heat got in the way of our plans, we just tried to survive. So we took the car and headed towards Valencia, as a goal to spend the night.
Day 15, Saturday. Valencia-Barcelona
Valencia and the city of arts and sciences. What a nice visit. We had come before but never together, and Mariano was visiting the city for the first time.
We took a one-hour tour of Santiago Calatrava’s masterpiece, and then we went to eat Arrós Valencià, better known as Paella Valenciana. The place chosen was the Flor de Valencia restaurant, which has a menu of €35 per person, and it was delicious.
After eating we have started the return home, finally! Around 9:00 p.m. we were already in Barcelona.
I think the route was correct, we know that many places were left out, but we did the best we could with the situation we had.
More than 4000 km traveled, many meals and above all many family moments, which we will never forget. Whenever we can we will try to take Clarita with us. And Mariano has already told us that if he joins again, it probably won’t be so many days.
I leave the whole issue of comfort, pros and cons of traveling in a motorhome for another chapter.
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