Updated On: March 4, 2006
Current Location: Seville - View Route Distance Since Last Update: 2,184 miles
Total Distance: 3,287 miles
Current Weather: Rain
Local Fare : Churros, Tapas, and Sangria
Recent Activities: Snow camping, tapas bar hopping, exploring Spain's medieval and Islamic past

 
  Barcelona - February 19-20, 2006
Barcelona’s a city that’s been on our list of places to visit for some years now (at one point we actually made it as far as the runway before our flight was cancelled do to heavy snow) however somehow we never quite made the trip. Now, finally, we’ve made it!

We arrived late last night - exhausted from a long day of skiing and an even longer drive. On the drive to the hotel we noticed billboards advertising a local half marathon that was to be run the next day. The race actually started just down the road from the hotel and the course snaked along the beach just outside our room. It seemed perfect and I seriously considered running it for the better part of 10 minutes before going to bed. It was 2 a.m. and the race started in 7 hours.

When we woke up I poked my head out the window. The weather was terrible. A strong wind was blowing and there was a driving rain. The beach had that deserted look typical of the dead of winter. The flags at the nearby yacht club looked like they were about the tear away and the waves were ragging. The first runners were just starting to pass and I couldn’t have been happier with my decision not to run!

By the time we stirred to life it was early afternoon and we were eager to start exploring the city’s rich history – some 2,200 years in the making. The weather had improved considerably and it was now mostly sunny outside and fairly warm. After a short walk from our hotel we picked up a bus into the city, which dumped us in the middle of town. Starving, we grabbed lunch at a small sandwich shop and then setout to explore the area around La Rambla. Along the way we visited Casa Batllo, an architectural marvel designed by Antonio Gaudi. The whimsical rooms and halls defy description (kind of like taking a trip into the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

Afterwards we hit La Rambla for a bit of people watching. The streets were packed with locals, tourist, vendors, and street artists alike and it was fun just hanging out and soaking up Barcelona’s energy. Tired and hungry, we popped into a nearby café at around 11pm before calling it a night.

With much to explore we got up early and started our day with a morning run along the Mediterranean. The sun was shining, the weather was warm, and we couldn’t help but think that we were staring at winter in the rearview window. Afterwards we ventured into Barcelona for a closer look. Our route took us down La Rambla to the waterfront. From there we ventured northwest into the narrow maze of medieval streets around Ciutat Vella. Our pace was leisurely and we spent as much time soaking up the city’s atmosphere - wandering back streets, relaxing in local parks and sipping cappuccinos as we did exploring Barcelona’s world renowned sites. We did however manage plenty of time to explore sections of the Roman wall, the Cathedral and Esglesia de Santa Maria del Mar.

 
 
     
 
 

Barcelona - February 22-23, 2006
With much of Barcelona still left to explore, we decided to take a break and head north to explore the cliff-lined coast around Costa Brava. The coastal drive was spectacular and reminded us of the northern California coast between San Francisco and Big Sur. As we worked our way up the coast, we stopped off for a look at Tossa de Mar. The medieval town is situated on high point that juts out over the water and is surrounded by thick stone walls and watchtowers. From it’s high vantage point, the view of the surrounding beaches and coves is very good and made the visit well worth while. From Tossa de Mar we continued north along winding mountain roads that skirted turquoise coves and secluded beaches. Driving up the steep climbs and tight turns was slow going (Betty is no Ferrari!) and we made it as far as Platja d’Aro before sunset - well short of our end destination of Girona. No worries though, there’s always tomorrow!

The next morning we woke up early to ensure we’d have plenty of time to see nearby Girona. Having not yet exhausted our interest in medieval architecture we were eager to explore Girona’s well preserved old town. The city’s cathedral was a bit of a disappointment when compared to other European churches, however the rest of the city was fascinating and we could have easily stayed longer. Perhaps what makes Girona unique is that it’s not only well preserved, but it’s also a working town where restaurants, shops, and hotels have done a good job of integrating themselves into the existing medieval buildings. Walk inside most restaurants and you’ll find thick stone walls, low stone archways, and warm lighting. It was enjoyable just to wander from shop to shop, stopping along the way for a long relaxing lunch and later an afternoon snack (chocolates from a local pastry shop) high atop the ruins of the town’s stone wall. A wonderful day trip which is well worth a visit.

 
 
 
 

Valencia - February 23-25, 2006
Our original plan was to get up early, spend a couple of hours reorganizing the trucks, go into Barcelona to access the internet and work in a bit of last minute site seeing before departing for Valencia. In reality we got up early, took a run along the beach, and then spent until 4pm rearranging the truck and handling various to do’s. Starving, the four of us grabbed a late lunch together at the same pizzeria from our first evening. Afterwards, Sharikay and Eric decided to skip the trip into Barcelona and go strait to Valencia, while we headed into the city to run an errand and access the internet. By the time we got everything taken care of (no last minute site seeing) and made it back to our truck, it was midnight and we still had a 4 hour drive ahead of us. Tired, we decided to extend our stay one additional night and depart for Valencia in the morning.

The next morning we fired up Betty and headed off for Valencia. Along the way we stopped at Sagunto and hiked to the remains of the old town, which was built in the 5th century BC. Most of the town is now in ruins, however the fortified walls and a handful of buildings are still in tact and took a good two hours to explore. Afterwards, we continued on to Valencia, arriving around 6pm. Upon arrival we happened to bump into Sharikay and Eric on the street and, as luck would have it, our brief stop to chat with them also landed us a small parallel parking spot just big enough to cram Betty into. And if that wasn’t enough, it turned out that the spot came with complementary parking services that were provided, like it or not, by a possibly drunk and definitely toothless fellow who eagerly awaited our arrival. I must admit that it made for quite a scene – if you can just picture Sheri, Sharikay, and Eric, all standing around Betty shouting parking directions while our newfound friend tried desperately to show his value by jockeying for position in between them and yelling out competing directions in slurred (read: drunken) Spanish. Even more comical was when Sheri gave him two Euros to avoid a fuss and he demanded more because he would be guarding such a large vehicle. I told him to take good care of it and if all was in good order when I returned I’d pay him the extra cash. He smiled, agreed, and stumbled off – never to be seen again. After getting settled at our hostal, we joined Sharikay and Eric for drinks at Café Balboa and then dinner at El Rall.

Having arrived in Valencia a day late there wasn’t much time to explore the city however we got up early and spent the morning exploring the nearby Mercado and surrounding area. Around lunchtime we ducked into a nearby internet café to make a few quick updates to the website and then setoff for Granada at 5pm. After a long drive we arrived at a local campsite just outside Granada just before midnight. Nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada’s, Granada sits at an elevation of around 2,300 feet. When we got out of the truck it was freezing cold and just starting to rain. With a storm clearly rolling in we raced to setup the tents – scrambling inside just before the storm pounded us with rain.

 
 
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Granada - February 26, 2006
We woke up this morning to find a cold, cloudy, blustery day. Nothing like the sunny t-shirt weather we left in Valencia. It rained all night and somehow the tent fly became wedged inside the lip of the tent’s floor allowing rain to leak in and everything was soaked – from sleeping bags to supplies. Ugh! Made for a nice morning project to dismantle everything so that it could air out and dry (which I’d estimate in the current weather will take at least 3 months). Lesson learned: make sure the tent fly overlaps the wooden floor of the tent and is secured. Won’t make that mistake again.

Meanwhile, as Sheri was busy dismantling the tent, Eric and I used the time to tear apart Betty’s split charge electrical system. This is basically the system that splits the alternator’s power between the two primary batteries that power the vehicle and the deep cycle battery that runs various other devices including our refrigerator and laptops. Since the start of the trip our deep cycle battery has been charging correctly however it’s not holding the charge. So our basic goal is to disconnect everything from the battery (since the battery goes flat even when no devices are connected to the batteries 12v or 240v outlets) and then give it a full charge to see if it’s a bad battery or possibly a bad outlet. If the battery holds a charge with nothing connected then we’ll begin reconnecting outlets, one at a time, to isolate the outlet that’s causing the problem. You might say we performed minor outpatient surgery on Betty and a few sparks and scorched hairs later she came through just fine (and the doctors say that Eric will be out of the hospital in about 10 days).

With our morning chores behind us, we departed to explore the Alhambra palace, a Unesco World Heritage site and perhaps the crown jewel of Spain’s Islamic past. By the time we arrived at the palace complex, situated high atop a hill known as La Sabika, the weather had gone from bad to worse and it was 37 degrees and snowing. In spite of the weather however the parking lots were packed and we were fortunate to get tickets before they were sold out for the day. Once inside we spent the next four hours exploring the Alhambra’s many treasures including the Alcazaba, Palacio Nazaries, and Palacio de Carlos V. The entire complex was absolutely incredible and defies description. An absolute must see and well worth battling the snow, cold, and throng of tourists!

Afterwards, we ditched the trucks (streets are far to narrow for our vehicles to manage) and caught a taxi into Albayzin, Granada’s old Muslim quarter. Once there, we wandered along crowded alleyways where the smell of incense and Arabic music created an atmosphere far more Moroccan than Spanish. In need of a bit of decompression after a day spent battling the crowds and cold, we ducked into a tea den to unwind. For the next 1 ½ hours we sat in a warm candlelit room absorbing the aroma of incense and sipping Lybian, Chai and Coconut teas and devouring chocolate crepes. Now thoroughly relaxed but not yet full we departed Kasbah for dinner at El Agua. Tucked away on a tiny back street, it’s a decent (not great) fondue restaurant that offers very good views of the beautifully lit Alhambra. An excellent end to a day spent exploring one of Spain’s most remarkable and unique cities!

 
 
     
 
 

Sierra Nevada - February 27-28, 2006
We woke up this morning to clear skies. The Sierra Nevada’s snow capped peaks were clearly visible from Granada and the mountains were calling our names. Excited by the prospect of a winter camping trip into the backcountry we packed up the tents and headed into the nearby mountains. Our goal for the day: head to the ranger station to map out a potential route into the backcountry, and discuss snow conditions, weather forecasts, and hut availability. If conditions were favorable, we’d find a place for the night and spend the balance of the day provisioning for an early start the next day.

At the start of our ascent the mountain slopes were dry as a bone however, flashing road signs warned of deep snow ahead and the need for snow chains. By the time we reached the park information office we were well above the snowline. At the park office we mapped a potential route into the backcountry and were told that the trail was passable with snow shoes and the huts were open on a first come first serve basis. He also said that the weather forecast was very good but that it was a holiday and we’d need to arrive early to guarantee a spot in one of the unmanned huts.

It was now nearing 2pm, and we decided to head up to the hostal to check on accommodation for the night and then head to the nearby ski village to rent snowshoes and buy cooker fuel and provisions in preparation for an early start tomorrow. After Eric and I waged a brief but violent snowball fight in the parking lot we continued our ascent into the mountains. At 2,400 meters a police roadblock warned us that the road ahead was buried in over a meter of snow. Eric indicated to the officer that we were headed to the hostal which was located another hundred vertical meters up the mountain. Loosely translated the officer replied in Spanish “I think you’re crazy. You’ll never make it. You’ll surely become stranded and barring some devine intervention, you’ll almost certainly either starve to death, freeze to death, or be eaten by wolves.” OK, I admit, my Spanish isn’t perfect. In fact, it isn’t even useful however that’s certainly what he was saying. With a wave of the hand Eric highlighted, as if he was Vanna Wight modeling a new car on the Wheel of Fortune, the go anywhere monster trucks we were driving. Clearly amazed, he then shrugged his shoulders, gave us a look that clearly indicated we were crazy, and let us pass. Beyond the roadblock we found several feet of new snow however the road had already been cleared down to a few inches of hard pack and we had no trouble finding our way.

At 2,500 meters we reached our destination – Hostal Universidad. Outside there was several feet of new snow on the ground and several people were out front digging out their vehicles which were completely buried in snow. Inside, we found paradise. Perhaps the worlds best hostal. A cozy mountain lodge with a huge fireplace, bar, restaurant, and excellent views of the surrounding mountains. It seemed like the perfect staging area. Only problem was that the very nice owner said all rooms were reserved for the night. He then told us it’s always possible there will be a cancellation and suggested we come back at 6pm to check. Optimistic there would be room for us, we drove down to the ski village to buy food and provisions.

Well stocked and ready for our backcountry trip, we returned promptly at 6pm to see if there was room at the inn. When we arrived the owner was out but scheduled to return in a few minutes. In the meantime, we nestled up beside the fire and began to settle into our comfy new digs. Ah this is the life! A short while later the owner returned and told us that everyone had confirmed and there were no rooms for the night. No room? But? This place is so perfect! How is this possible. What will we ever do?? Utterly deflated and with fleeting visions of a night spent in front of the fire, reading a good book, we pleaded with him in the best Spanish we could collectively muster – “we’ll all cram into one room. A single room at that.” No luck! He had absolutely no room for us. Alternatively, he suggested that we might hike to a nearby abandoned hotel were we could break in and possibly find shelter for the night. Not exactly what we had in mind but it sounded adventurous and we could still enjoy the fire before hiking through waste deep snow to freeze our asses off in an abandoned hotel that closely resembled something out of a horror movie.

Just as we started to re-define our idea of the perfect mountain retreat, the owner came back and said he had another idea. Graciously, he offered to let is sleep on the floor, free of charge, in the adjacent cafeteria. We’d have to go to bed late and be out by 6am. He went on to say we could hang out by the fire and even have dinner in the restaurant. Without going into detail, let’s just say that this news was well received by the group – well, everyone except me as I was already packing my headlamp and sleeping bag to set off for the abandoned hotel. After a brief debate in which I garnered absolutely no support for my proposal to ditch the cafeteria in favor of the abandoned hotel, we collectively agreed to sleep in the cafeteria.

Down but not out, I grabbed Eric, put on some warm clothes, turned on the headlamps and setoff to explore the abandoned hotel before dinner. The hike down the hill to the hotel required us to trudge through snow that eventually became waste deep drifts as we neared the hotel. Once there, we first managed to find a small opening in one of the basement doors hidden behind a snow drift. Unfortunately, it took us into a massive storage room that resulted in a dead end. Next we climbed a snow bank to the sun deck. There we found a steel fence (no doubt erected to keep us out). We scaled the fence. On the other side we found ourselves on the deck. Searching along the deck we found a broken window and slipped through. Inside we found an eerie world that reminded me of the Shining. It was pitch black and freezing cold. It was also dead quiet and the only sound was our boots crunching the snow under our feet. We were in a large room that appeared to have once served as the hotels great room – with two-story floor to ceiling windows overlooking the surrounding mountains. Everything was covered in a thin layer of snow and ice - the floors, walls, ceiling, what was left of the furniture. Everything. The only sign of recent visitors was a small set of tracks that appeared to belong to a fox. Crunching along in the pitch black darkness we went from room to room – first down into the bowels of the building were we found the laundry, with washers and dryers covered in an eerie layer of snow and ice. Next it was on to the showers/spa where, I kid you not, we experienced something out of a movie. There in the quiet darkness I hear Eric say, “Hey look over here. There’s something on this glass door”. With his glove he wipes away the snow and the word MURDER appears backwards on the glass. When we returned to the stairwell the door was closed and yes, just like a scary movie I found the door locked. We were in the basement and there was no way out. I tried to pull the door open and it wouldn’t budge. After a few tries I thought to my self….. “you must be kidding me. How is it that I get myself into these “a scene out of a bad movie” situations. Really!” When Eric showed up he not surprisingly said, “Come on man. Stop playing around and open the door.” To which I calmly replied “be my guest” and moved out of the way. He pulled at the door and it wouldn’t budge. We both looked at each other and said “You must be kidding me!” and started looking for other ways out. Without any we returned to the door and kept tugging on it until finally it gave way and opened. We smiled, shook our heads and moved headed upstairs agreeing to prop open any doors we open going forward.

Up on the guest halls we found long dark snow-covered hallways with bedrooms on each side. Many of the bedrooms still had beds inside. The bathrooms were in tact. All buried in snow. In every room we found the same set of fox tracks. Hungry, the animal had gone into every single room in the entire hotel searching for food. As we continued on we picked up the strong scent of something dead but never found anything buried in the snow.

The entire place gave off that eerie vibe that an abandoned hotel, at night, buried in snow, high in the mountains might give off. It was creepy. We were cold. It was time to go!

Back at the hostel. We thawed out by the fire and then joined Sheri and Sharikay for a hardy dinner and some wine. I have to admit. Later we returned to the warmth of the fire where we relaxed until we could take our places on the cafeteria floor. It was a comfortable arrangement, short of having to suit up at 4am to go outside into the snow and pee.

Eric’s alarm woke us up at 5:40am. It was pitch black as we fumbled around in the dark half asleep trying to pack up our sleeping bags and get out by the 6am deadline. At exactly 6am, our quiet hideaway became a hub of activity as a group of skiers rushed through the outside door and began putting climbing skins on their skis and readying their gear for a trip into the backcountry. Meanwhile, not wanting to wear out our welcome, we scurried out the door and inside the main lodge to warm up by the fire. In no real hurry we ate a hardy breakfast and spent the better part of the morning packing our backpacks and taking care of miscellaneous odds and ends while we waited for the sun to warm things up a bit.

By noon the sun was high in the sky and it was a beautiful blue-sky day. With temps now reaching 17 degrees Celsius. We strapped on the snowshoes, shouldered our packs and set off up the mountain. Our climb through the snow was at a very leisurely pace stopping along the way for lunch and pictures. The scenery was gorgeous –surrounded by beautiful snow-covered peaks - we were in paradise. Snow conditions along the trail varied a lot as we trudged through everything from deep powder to hardpack and even ice. In some places we noticed that the warm daytime and cold night time temps had created a layer of snow on the surface that was crusty and eaily broke away from the rest of the snow. Cautious, we noted this as it was a warning sign of heightened avalanche risk. Continuing on, the warm weather made for a wonderful walk with Sheri and Sharikay hiking together and Eric and I together some distance ahead. By mid afternoon the blue skies had become cloudy but temps were still very comfortable and the walk very enjoyable.

Around 4pm we were climbing along a high ridgeline just below 2,900 meters when we heard a loud rumble and felt the ground shimmy under our feet. In all my years in the mountains it was the first time I’d been so close to snow breaking away from a cornice wall and we were all eager to get off the ridge and out of any potential avalanche zones. We continued a bit further before stopping to discuss potential campsites for the night. Originally, our plan was to hike to an unmanned hut 4-5 hours (in summer) up the trail, however, not knowing if there’d be room, we packed out tents to snow camp instead. Now, with it getting late and still a long walk to the hut, we decide to descend a bit and make camp in a sheltered area near an abandoned research station. After descending about 4 km back down the trail I arrived at the abandoned research station and ventured inside while I waited for everyone else to complete their decent. It was an astronomy observatory perched high on a mountain top. Inside I climbed the stairs to the observation tower where a telescope once sat. From the top, the view was incredible and I sat outside on the observation platform watching the sun set and bath the surrounding mountains in a sea of bright orange.

About 30 minutes after I arrived Eric, Sharikay, and Sheri reached the base of the observatory and all at once it occurred to me. I was situated in perhaps the all time best fortification for a snowball battle ever known to man. It was the perfect setup. I already had surveyed the observatory and knew that to get inside you had to climb a rocky hill, remove your snowshoes and pack and clamor through a very small hole in the side of the building. Once inside you had to navigate icy concrete floors and then ascend a snow-covered staircase to reach the observation tower. Once in the dome of the tower, the only way to the observation platform was via a removable steel ladder. This all came to me right about the time Eric reached the hole in the wall and began taking off his snowshoes. Not one to pass up a good opportunity, I quickly pushed a large wall of snow off the platform and onto Eric standing far below. The look on his face was priceless and he promptly turned and warned me of my imminent doom (if only he knew what he was in for). As he clamored about below trying to take off his snowshoes and pack I pulled up the ladder and went about the business of shelling him with snowballs. It was honestly too perfect as it took him ages to pull off his gear and there was no shelter in site. By the time he got everything off and struggled through the tiny hole in the observatory I must have scored 50 hits. Once inside the situation only deteriorated as I began mortar fire down the stairwell. If only I had a dollar for every time I head “oh, ouch, shit” come from the darkness below, I’d be able to travel forever. Finally he reached the observation dome, only to find no way to the observation deck and a hail of snowballs reigning in on him from above. It was the most savage snowball defeat in the history of snowball wars and by the time it was almost dark and the white flag went up the score was Eric: 0, Jim: approximately 14,345.

With the sun now almost gone, we reached a cease fire agreement and went about digging a place in the snow to setup our tents. It was now dark and and very cold. With the tents up, we changed into warm clothes, climbed into our down bags, and fired up the stove to cook dinner. The worse part of cold weather camping is sitting around in the freezing darkness where the only warm place is your sleeping bag. That said, dinner was a short two course affair that consisted of a lovely pot of Spanish rice followed by a delightfully delicate hot chocolate blend with just a touch of Spanish rice flavor still lingering in the pot. Devine! Afterwards, there was no time for sitting around the piano and belting out show tunes as it was in our sleeping bags and off to sleep as fast as possible – it was 8pm.

 
 
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Seville - March 1, 2006
After 12 hours of restless sleep, we were awoken at 8am by the wind rustling the walls of our tent. The thermometer on my watch read 25 degrees (inside the tent). Burr! With the skies looking a bit ominous we decided it was best to skip the buffet breakfast and break camp so that we could head down the mountain before a storm rolled in. Ugh! I have to admit, the worst part of camping in cold weather is dragging yourself out of a warm sleeping bag and struggling to get your feet into frozen boots. With a few grunts and groans we layered on the clothes, packed up the tents, broke camp and headed down the mountain.

By the time we made it down our feet were frozen solid and we were famished. Back at the hostal we devoured a large breakfast before packing up the trucks and setting off for warmer weather. Our destination: Seville, Spain – approx. 250 km away. The drive down was uneventful and we arrived in Seville shortly before 6pm. It was 76 degrees out and the skies were crystal clear. Utopia! For the hefty sum of 20 Euros/day we found safe shelter for Betty and then set about searching for beds for ourselves. A short while later we settled on Casa Sol Y Luna, a comfortable hostal run by the friendliest InnKeeper you’ll ever meet. With the trucks tucked away and beds secured for the night we took a couple of hours to catch-up on various to-do’s and then went to a forgettable dinner just down the street from the hostal. Exhausted. We hardly made it through dinner and around 12am called it a night.

 
 
     
 
 

Seville - March 2-4, 2006
This morning we woke up early, eager to take advantage of the beautiful weather and see the city. First stop: the Alcazar, a fortified complex of palaces and gardens that reminded us a bit of the Alhambra. We spent hours wandering through the various palaces, courtyards, and gardens. Next we visited Seville’s cathedral. One of the largest in the world, it’s an impressive site that includes the tomb of Christopher Columbus (although some argue it’s actually one of his sons that’s buried there). After a quick trip up to the top of the church’s Giralda foot tower, we continued on to explore Santa Cruz’ maze of narrow streets and plazas and the riverfront. Along the way we stopped for Churros at a local bakery.

Back at the hotel, we joined Sharikay and Eric and headed to a small local spot to take in a flamenco show. Typically, I’m not one to get excited about such shows however I have to admit that it was excellent. Afterwards, we went tapas bar hopping and basically stuffed ourselves sick! By midnight we were thoroughly stuffed and ready to sample Seville’s nightlife which is said to go very late. By 3am the bar-lined street in front of our hostal was packed with people and there was no sign of letting up. We called it quits at 5:30am. That’s about 5 ½ hours later than we normally stay out on a rowdy night.

Unfortunately we didn't have a chance to sleep in as the hotel was full for the following night we had to pack our gear and get our by 11am. Fortunately, we found a nice hostal located in the heart of Santa Cruz, just a few blocks from the Cathedral. Once settled we headed out for another day of exploring Seville. We set a leisurely pace – visiting the bull fighting arena and Archive de Indies museum. In between I worked in a much needed haircut – always an adventure in a foreign country. I was just happy to walk away without a mullet. That night Sheri and I went out for a late dinner at Cerveceria Geralda – a converted Muslim bathhouse with colorful tile walls, arched ceilings, good service and good tapas.

This morning we woke up early so that we could work in a morning run along the river before departing Seville for Portugal. Unfortunately, my running shoes and shorts were locked securely in the back of our truck and I was forced to improvise. The best I could come up with was heavy leather hiking boots and convertible trekking shorts. Not ideal as Matt Savage would say. To look at the bright side however, I feel confident that I provided quite a bit of humor for those fortunate enough to be along the river as I passed by (Alan, if you happen to be reading this, jus remember the depth of sacrifice I’ll go to get a run in).

Afterwards, we packed up our bags once more and hiked to the car. When we arrived, Eric and Sharikay were already there and Eric said that minutes earlier he had chased away a man who was in the process of using Betty as a port-a-john. Unfortunately, from the look of things, Eric was too late, as there was a large pool of vomit, feces, and urine just under the rear bumper.

Shortly after leaving Seville, the skies opened up and it started to storm. The wind was terrible and at one point we couldn’t see the road in front of us. After a short while the intensity let up but the rain followed us all the way to Lisbon. After a 4 ½ hour drive we arrived in Lisbon just after dark and quickly found a suitable campsite just outside of town. It was Saturday night and we quickly setup camp and then took a taxi into the city for dinner. We picked a restaurant, UMA, highly recommended for their “award winning” seafood stew. When we arrived there were two other couples in the restaurant and both had a Lonely Planet Guide sitting on their table.When the waiter approached us he immediately pointed to bottom of the second page of the menu where we found “award winning” seafood stew. Hmm, maybe it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for but then again, once a guide book lists a restaurant, more times than not this is what you get. In any case, we were starving, tired, and not eager to spend the next hour looking for another restaurant and so we ordered their award winning stew. The stew was good – not incredible. The service was horrendous! They started taking plates off the table while we were still eating from them and when that didn’t force us out the door they took to turning off the lights. We were probably there 45 minutes from start to finish. A disappointment – yes. But then again we were full and there’s many more meals to be had.

After dinner we made our way over to Barrio Alto to checkout Lisbon’s legendary nightlife. Along the way we were approached several times by young men who whispered “hashish” as they passed. When we arrived at around 11:30 the area was fairly tame and we easily found a table at a local bar located along one of Barrio Alto’s main streets. Fast-forward a few beers and the bars and streets were packed and you could hardly move. We had a very enjoyable time however, we were a bit too drained to fully soak up the electricity of the place. Still a great night out in which Lisbon lived up to it’s reputation.