Luxury in Evora

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

He Said:
Part of our plan on this trip to help adjust ourselves to life on the road and to prevent burn out was to occasionally stay in really nice places. The way we are doing this without spending a fortune is by using frequent guest points for Starwood hotels that we have earned both through Katie's business travel and from our credit card. Using these points, we are staying in some pretty luxurious places every month or so during the journey. This is part of what brought us to Evora.

Yesterday morning we took a bus from Lisbon through the olive groves, vineyards, and agricultural heart of the country to the historic city of Evora. From the bus station we went straight to our hotel, the Convento de Espinheiro. It is a lovely spa hotel just outside of town that is built within the remains of 15th century convent. The structure is a surprising combination of ancient and contemporary styles. It certainly is the first hotel I've ever stayed in that contains a church with regularly scheduled services. Oh and even more exciting, it is also the first hotel I've ever been to outside of Japan that has a washlet in the bathrooms! (Google it if you don't know what it is) Quite a change from the spartan, non-air conditioned hostel we were in Lisbon. Certainly this hotel is WAY beyond our regular budget if not for using points. Needless to say, the charm of the place and the cool water of its swimming pools captivated us for the remainder of the day.

Early this morning we went into the city to explore before the heat of the day became too intense. Evora itself is an enchanting medieval walled city (and a UNESCO World Heritage site) with many of its ancient details still intact. The center of the city contains the remnants of a Roman temple from when it was the capital of the region 2000 years ago. There are plenty of churches, historic homes, monuments, convents, and unique architectural details to make anyone happy.

After just three days in Europe, Katie and I have talked a few times about how it doesn't really feel like we have traveled very far from home. Living in the New York area, we are continually surrounded by people speaking different languages and practicing diverse customs. Here in Portugal, the people, culture, foods, and way of life aren't that much different than those we encountered in previous travels or through our everyday lives, though maybe a bit slower-paced. Perhaps we should read this as a sign that we have traveled enough through Western Europe for the time being and are ready to move on to more, shall we say, "challenging areas".

Tomorrow morning we are going to be taking a bus to the southern coastal city of Faro, and then hopefully we will be have time to connect to another bus going east to Seville, Spain. On Thursday morning from Seville we will be heading south to the port city of Algeciras where we will catch a ferry across the Straight of Gibraltar to get our first taste of Africa in Morocco.

She Said:
Things started looking up the moment we got out of the taxi at the resort. Ahh...this is more what I had it mind... serious AC, very cold pools, luxury bedding, and even a little manicure kit in the bathroom. I have learned the following - I am in for a real shock once we leave Europe.
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