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Behind The Scenes of my Trip to Spain & Portugal

My husband and I recently returned from an incredible trip to southern Spain and Portugal.  It was a business trip + vacation. We had such an incredible time, I'm still pinching myself that we got to experience this together and grateful for this dream come true.  I’ll take you behind the scenes of our adventure.

 We flew into Paris, then to Lisbon and drove down to Seville, Spain.

We rented a car, to get us around, and one of the days, we were meeting up with some co-workers. We typed in our destination into the GPS, the downtown Seville Cathedral, and we were so excited to see it!

As we drove closer to the city center, the colorful buildings, with beautiful flowers, lined the streets, and the roads started getting  smaller, and narrower, until we’d arrived in an area that felt like it was only for pedestrians.  

The GPS had lead us there, and I remember thinking, “There’s no way we’re supposed to be driving here!”  But, there was literally no turning back, on a one-way narrow street. We couldn’t reverse it if we wanted to, it was too small, we felt completely trapped!

Picture this… we’re now driving through an area, where if I rolled down my window, I could touch the walls of the city buildings on both sides of the car.  We held our breath, and clenched our teeth, as we drove through the maze of alleys. We were still a ways from our destination, and had to roll down the windows, we felt so claustrophobic.

I closed my eyes, and covered my face as we turned a corner.  It was like a 10-point turn, meaning we had to move forward a couple of inches, back a few, forward and back until we could finally clear a super tight street corner.  Our tires were screeching at every turn.  

I was grateful we said yes to the full coverage car insurance, because we were surely going to hit someone or something.  If you can imagine, we also had to fold in the side mirrors, so they wouldn’t get scratched, it was that tight.

The walking crowds of locals, just looked at us, like it was no big deal, but I’m sure it was very amusing for them to see our panicked faces of distress.  "Don't mind us, we're just tourists."   

After what felt like hours, my amazing husband, earned the title of rockstar driver, because he managed to pull us out of there, without killing anyone.

Truly a miracle.  

We took one more turn and could finally see the road begin to open up, in the distance. We instantly felt a big sigh of relief, and could finally exhale and breathe easy as we turned and looked at each other, in disbelief.

But it wasn’t over.  

Next came getting into the tiny underground parking lot, made for mice, but that’s a whole other story.  We did make it to the cathedral and explored the city, but, note to self, and lessons learned, most locals in Seville don’t drive into the city center.  LOL.

We had a couple of flex days, on our trip, while in route to and from the airport.

So, Jake and I googled “prettiest beaches in Portugal” and then drove to wherever the GPS led us.  You’d think we’d learned our lesson by now, but to our surprise, we ended up at one of National Geographic’s top ranked beaches in the world.  The beautiful Praia da Marinha. Wow! Not to mention all of the breathtaking hidden beaches you could only access by boat, which we did. This was a trip highlight.

Some other things we experienced:

  • Lots of belly laughs and great conversations around the dinner table with co-workers.
  • Visited Sintra, Portugal and the Algarve coastline.
  • National Palace of Pena and the Moorish castle.  
  • Explored Lisbon and surrounding areas
  • Took a scenic boat cruise Torre de Oro. 
  • Went to Costa de Cadiz , Andalucia, and Torre Tavira.
  • Benagil Caves and boat ride in Portugal.
  • Ate mixed paella in Seville, was kind of bland, no offense.
  • Real Alcazar- the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen. A mix of Christian and Islamic inspired designs.
  • Lots of gourmet tapas and delicious salads.
  • A romantic horse-drawn carriage ride along the plaza de España.
  • Went to a professional flamenco dance show

Something you may not know about me is that I was a performer, dancer and choreographer for many years.  Before our trip, I packed my dance shoes, you know, just in case :)

After the show, I chased down the dancers to see if I could get a private lesson.

We exchanged numbers and she agreed.  The next day, we went to a studio, in the Macarena district.  No, we didn’t do the Macarena dance, but so what if we did? 

It was so much fun and I couldn’t hold back my excitement during the class, I was so happy.   Learning from a high-level professional was a dream come true for me. To top it off, she recommended a great dress designer, who was nearby.  We went and had a custom tailored dance skirt made. I was blissfully twirling around, and really couldn’t believe I was there. A total dream come true.

It was really an incredible trip. I know we'll go back again, maybe with the kids this time.  

To end with a bang, after our flight home, we discovered the airline had lost our luggage, and dance skirt, as we waited at the baggage carousel.  But, luckily, they were located and dropped off the next day. Fewwf!

I don't know about you, but traveling to beautiful places fills my soul like nothing else.  Seeing new foreign places, experiencing new cultures and food, I feel like it wakes up all of my senses and it expands my perspective and I come home feeling like a better version than before.  I learn so much.

It’s something that I deeply value because it brings so much joy.

I know some people don’t like to travel, but for me, it’s important.  I feel like it gives me a wake up call, and it makes me look at myself and the world around me through a new lens.  It gives me the chance to question the way I’m living my life, and look for new ways and ideas to make it better.

What is an experience you've had, or would like to have that would bring you lots of joy? Something that you would treasure? I’d love to hear.  

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