A Travellerspoint blog

Trans Iberian Train

Night Train from Lisbon to Vitoria-Gasteiz

overcast 5 °C
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After returning from Madeira, the travel bug couldn't be kept away for too long, so me and a couple of friends decided we should go on a weekend trip to the Basque Country. I was planning to try Renfe's TrenHotel that leaves from Lisbon every night. Since CP and Renfe had launched promotions for this trains, we decided we should give it a go.

We arrived at Santa Apolónia train station (a beautiful old building) and we boarded the train, which was already there.
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The train travels through some rough tracks at some points, but it overall a nice trip. The three of us had a 4 bed compartment and the train was only half full, so it was a calm trip. When I woke up, the scenery outside was beautiful, as we were traveling through a landscape covered with snow.1476019_10151810709429220_2125107299_n.jpg

Arriving at Vitoria (Gasteiz in Basque language) - the capital of the Basque Country-, we had a little breakfast at a cafe and walked around the historical center. The streets were empty as it was early Saturday, we it still a nice place, with beautiful buildings and parks.
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We were on a tight schedule, so we took the "slow" bus to Bilbao - well worth it - which travels through the mountains and the villages, on curvy roads but with stunning views.

Bilbao is a big city, but quite easy to walk. Bilbao (and the Basque Country) is one of the wealthiest parts of Spain and you can easily notice that. The restaurant prices are higher than Madrid and the population seems to live a more comfortable life. For our budget it was not that good though, but we somehow managed.
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With many sights to see, Bilbao is definitely a place to visit. The nightlife, as in all big Spanish cities, is quite alive and there lots of bars and restaurants you can go. Despite the cold, Bilbao's inhabitants enjoy going out and chatting with friends and relatives, while drinking a glass of good wine or sidra.
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We too went and enjoyed the nightlife. Next day was already time to say goodbye, but he still had the chance to have a glimpse at the Guggenheim musem (one of Bilbao's major attractions).
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For the return leg of the trip we took the plane (fastest and cheapest option) and we arrived Lisbon shortly after (instead of a 11 hour train trip).

Posted by danics 06:46 Archived in Spain Tagged night train spain country bilbao basque vitoria guggenheim trenhotel gasteiz Comments (0)

Madeira Trip 2013 - Photos

sunny 19 °C
View Madeira Escapadela 2013 on danics's travel map.

I've decided to make a different report this time on our Madeira trip.
So try to come up with the narrative to this pictures :)
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Enjoy

Posted by danics 06:21 Archived in Portugal Tagged photo trip madeira funchal descida cestos bailinho Comments (0)

Madeira Trip 2013

Keeping up the tradition


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Many people I know often ask me "Why do you go to Madeira every year?"
I often tell you "I cannot explain the magic of Madeira. You have to come with me so I can show you"
The tradition started a few years ago and next weekend will be our "Madeira weekend". We still don't know the places we are going to visit, but I imagine that we'll find new places and revisit old ones. I'll let you know when I return.

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Posted by danics 02:22 Archived in Portugal Tagged landscapes portugal madeira Comments (0)

Croatia - Fourth stop: Dubrovnik

Last, but not least

semi-overcast 28 °C
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Dubrovnik has long been the jewel of the Dalmatian coast. It is one of those "must visit" places and sure wouldn't miss it on our first trip to Croatia. So, when booking our flights, we booked the returning flight departing from Dubrovnik.
We finally arrived to Dubrovnik after a 4 and a half hour bus trip from Split (the lady selling the bus tickets said it was the fast bus! - Yeah, right). The landscape though, was gorgeous as usual (the Makarska Riviera was added into my "to visit" list). The border crossing into Bosnia was smooth and we even stopped in Bosnia for a short break.
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After this long journey, we arrived at Dubrovnik and it was already night, so we found our way into our rented apartment which was in Lapad area (a bit far from Dubrovnik's city center, but very near the beach). The hostess was very nice and she gave a walk through the map, the area and the sights we could see.
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As we were tired, we just slept until morning. Next day, we enjoyed the beautiful (and for the internet addicts, with free wi-fi) Lapad beach, 3 minutes walking from our place. It was a deserved relax time as our holiday time was fast approaching its end.

In the evening, we headed to the city center, to have a glimpse of the historical part of Dubrovnik.
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Crowds of tourists "flooded" the streets of the walled city. Dubrovnik was heavily bombarded during the Balkan Wars, and there is a map marking all the spots affected right by the entrance. There is wide street (Placa) leading towards the main square, but Dubrovnik is mainly a labyrinth of narrow and cobble streets surrounded by old and pretty houses.

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We headed back home and next day we returned to explore a bit more. Connected by frequent boats, one can visit the nearby island of Lokrum (only 600 meters from Dubrovnik), that has a beautiful garden and many beaches. There you can spend the day. We didn't do it, as we were on a tight schedule.

Dubrovnik is a very nice place to visit, if one ignores the sometimes high prices. Full of restaurants, shops, it contains many sights worth visiting. There are more than a handful of churches, and even a convent within the walls. And as to walls themselves, it is possible (although really overpriced, in my opinion), to visit and walk on them all around the city.

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If old monuments do not suit you, you can always enjoy an ice cream or head to the beach for a swim. We spent some time just admiring the tourists and the "rush hour" (which seems to be always, here). There is a cablecar that connects the city to a high hill nearby and you can enjoy amazing views from there. We were unlucky as when we went there it was closed because of strong winds. There is also the aquarium.

That night they were playing "The Picture of Dorian Gray" in an open air cinema, so we spent our last ours in Dubrovnik watching a movie :)
Next morning, we caught the bus to the airport. It was almost time to head back home.

See you soon, Croatia!

Posted by danics 03:53 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia dubrovnik Comments (0)

Croatia - Third stop: Split

The city of Diocletian

sunny 30 °C
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We took the bus from Zadar and I must say, it was quite a scenic route. The bus goes through the roads next to sea and I was drooling craving for a swim in the crystal clear sea during the entire journey. The ride was quite long, but we were prepared with snacks and water.
The first glimpse of Split is not a very charming one. The city is quite big with tall and randomly placed buildings. The stadium dominates the scener, and gives a modern look to this city. Moreover, Hajduk Split seems to be the main focus of Split's citizens. The walls are painted with Hajduk logo's, the bars and stores are named after the club, etc, etc.
Each bus arrival is greeted by numerous "brokers", trying to rent rooms to the arriving tourists. As we have our accommodation already booked, we try to find it in the maze of streets in the vicinity of the port,bus and train station (everything is compacted here).

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We are lucky as our apartment is big, comfortable and near the city's major attraction: the Diocletian's Palace. This great area is what remains of the old roman emperor Diocletian "crib", and after he left was taken by the locals, so the ancient palace is now a city itself, with many streets inside.

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Riva, the promenade that surrounds the bay and lays right by the palace walls, is a place full of life. Restaurants, bars, stalls selling craft, tshirts and food attract many tourists, as well as locals.

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As we stayed 3 nights in Split, we took the time to visit many sights: climbed the Bell Tower, went to the cathedral and the crypt, watched a live concert in Peristil. But we also had time to enjoy some time by the sea. We spent a day at the beach, rented a sea kayak, and had time to chill and enjoy our holiday. We were withing walking distance of a great "swimming pool" (a beach that looks and feels like a swimming pool), but the nicest beach was 30 minutes walking from the center, which was lovely in all ways possible.

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We had a great time in Split, it is a really nice city once you get to know it and has things to offer to every kind of traveler.

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Vis

Croatia is a country of 1000 islands and Split has many near. We couldn't leave Croatia without visiting a least one of them, so we decided to spend a night in Vis. The ferry from Split to Vis takes approximately 2h and it a pleasant journey. The ferry was not crowded and one can opt to sit inside or in the balcony of this big boat.

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Vis is a popular yacht destination and the port was full of sailboats. We wanted to rent a scooter to visit the island, but they were all taken (a tip for you - book in advance), so the only alternative was regular and electrical bikes. We took the electrical ones.

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The island is well worth visit and has very nice diving spots, regular and naturist beaches and is the perfect spot for peace and quiet vacation. There are two main towns - Vis and Komiza, on opposite sides of the islands and the road around the island is around 30km. It is a hilly island though (as I found out when the my bike run out of "fuel", on my way from Komiza to Vis). The center of the island is full of vineyards and the local wine is supposedly very good.

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I would have liked to spend a few more days in Vis, but we were on a tight plan, so we could only stay one night. Our room was on the very last street in Vis (up hill), but it had a nice view :)

In the next morning we woke up and just admired the coming and going of the people in the marina, while waiting for our ferry back to Split.

Next stop: Dubrovnik

Posted by danics 05:22 Archived in Croatia Tagged sea beach ruins palace croatia split diocletian Comments (0)

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