Travel Note: Portugal and Extremadura, Spain

Not sure how this managed to happen, but I’ve only got three more weeks left on the continent. (But wait, I haven’t even gone to Rome yet!) Of course, the UNISG masters students will be going out with a bang—for our last stage, we’ll be taking a 2-week long excursion to Portugal and Spain. We start off in Lisbon, then gradually move toward the Spanish border region of Extremadura, traveling east to Évora, Cáceres, Mérida and finally, Seville. The foodstuffs look quite similar to Italian cuisine, with a lot of olive oil, wine, cheese and cured meats, but we are also making stops to investigate the production of pastéis de Belém (sweet pastries), herb liquors, paprika, and eating lunch at a zero-kilometer restaurant (with locally-sourced products).

After the Great Internet Drought that was Emilia-Romagna, I have to admit that the part I am most excited for is that we will have wifi at the hotel for 10 out of the 12 nights of this trip. I don’t have a problem, I swear. Also, it is going to be ridiculously warm, somewhere around 7-18 C (45-65 F). After a decade of suffering through New England, upstate New York and Chicago winters, I am relishing the fake Mediterranean “winter” this year. (We’ve gotten snow about two times in Italy so far.)

Here’s a sample itinerary for Friday, Feb. 18th:

7:30 – Breakfast
8:00 – Depart for Aldeia da Serra
9:00 – Walk in the Montado forest, meet with wine & honey producer
12:00 – Lunch at Aldeia da Serra
14:30 – Santiago de Rio de Moinhos cheese producer
17:00 – Redondo: honey producer and tasting of traditional products
19:00 – Azaruja: unique cured meats and other local products (Slow Food project)
20:00 – Arrival at Evora, dinner on your own

Oy veh, I don’t speak a word of Portuguese, and I stopped studying Spanish in 5th grade, when I switched to French. But I’ve heard that speaking Italian to Spaniards works out rather well, so let’s see if I can make them think I’m Italian. (Random note: when I was learning my numbers in Spanish, my mom attempted to learn with me, and the mnemonic she used to remember “ocho” was 污糟 wu zou, or “dirty” in Cantonese.)

See ya’ll from the Iberian peninsula!

3 thoughts on “Travel Note: Portugal and Extremadura, Spain

  1. Spanish and Italian really aren’t all that different. You’ll be fiiiiine. Anyway, I love Spain and just wanted to say that the food in Spain CAN be really great. The wine is also superb.

    1. Accomplishment of the day: I had a very long conversation about Japan and linguistics with the front desk clerk. He spoke Portuguese. I spoke Italian. We understood each other. It was like working in a restaurant kitchen.

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