Driving in Spain to Portugal part II [Archive] - Audi Forums

: Driving in Spain to Portugal part II

04-22-2012, 09:16 AM
Is it the culture? The history? The architecture? The weather? Our favorite vacation destinations always have cobblestone streets lined by centuries-old buildings with intricate carvings, flowered balconies, and gargoyles. Large lush gardens with manicured lawns, sculptured trees and full size statues are located near brimming outdoor restaurants serving fresh and aromatic local delicacies. A bird-eye panoramic view of colored and adorned rooftops carpeting the hilly land next to a wide meandering river provides a romantic spot to watch the orange sun disappearing over the horizon and the crescent moon appearing in deep blue sky. We have come to such beautiful and romantic place in our Spain and Portugal driving vacation: Lisbon...

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After a few hours of downtown exploration, we drive eastward on Ave. 24 de Juhlo towards Belem. There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belém: Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. Built as a fortified lighthouse in 16th century, Torre de Belém was designed to guard the entrance to the port and the nearby Monastery. This place was where many of the great Portuguese explorers set off on their voyages of discovery...

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The next day we set out early because we have about three and a half hour drive to Porto, the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, with a stopover at Sintra, located just 40 km northwest of Lisbon. Sintra is famous for its fairytale 19th century Pena Palace and Park located in uneven terrain of Sintra mountain range. After passing the quaint little town of Sintra, the road becomes narrow and twisty. The vegetation in this vast forest is extremely lush and tree branches create a continuous natural canopy. The temperature outside is dropping slowly as we gain elevation. After we park our car at a designated parking lot, we hike up towards the Pena Palace and Park entrance...

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The next day, we covered a distance of 340 km from Sintra to Porto in less than three hours. The drive was uneventful since it was mostly on freeways. We noticed speed limit signs but most people didn't bother to obey. Several times we ran into fast Audis and we decided to create a convoy of speeding Audis; TT, A5, A4, and S6. The convoy did save us from the dull of straight driving on freeways. Porto's Av. Diogo Leite along Douro River is where we relax and soak the ambiance. Famous for its Port wine, many internationally renowned wineries - such as Quarles Harris, Quinta de Ventozello, Romariz, Rozés, Sandeman, and Sao Pedro Das Aguias - have tasting and dining rooms along this picturesque waterfront...

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We have to go back to Madrid, Spain to return this beloved TT and to catch our flight back to Frankfurt. We add one more stop to our driving vacation; one-night stop at Salamanca, Spain. As we cross the ancient Roman Bridge and enter the University campus, our spirit of adventure wakes up. Founded in 1218, University of Salamanca is the oldest university in Spain. The city itself was founded in the pre-Ancient Roman time. Today, Salamanca is youthful and un-touristy. The Flamboyant Gothic university buildings are definite eye candies displaying mighty monuments and clusters of cloisters with pride. The ornately decoration on many building walls are known as Plateresque. The minute intricacy of masonry is comparable to silverwork. Getting lost here is the best way to soak Salamanca's beauty and experience the relaxing effect on the soul..

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Looking for tapas, we head to Plaza Mayor. This plaza and the buildings along the perimeter with hundreds of Spanish windows and balconies were featured in Vantage Point movie starring Dennis Quaid. We sit at an open door restaurant and watch life goes by. As the moon is reaching its zenith, college students are congregating and singing around the plaza. We wait a bit more to enjoy the ambience before we drive around this mesmerizing campus to take night pictures. Our ten day driving vacation across Spain and Portugal is near to the end and a sense of separation anxiety with our Audi TT grows within us. This Audi TT definitely heightens our driving vacation enjoyment. The best keepsake we are bringing home is the fond memory of driving Audi TT across Spain and Portugal...

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