Friday, January 9

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Didn’t sleep well last night or the night before. Jet lag, or maybe just sleeping in a new place? It stinks. I’m exhausted. But the trip goes on. We boarded our bus this morning before the sun was even up, but that was about 8:15. We drove to Avila, another super old city. It was much colder there, because we were in the mountains. Lots of snow on the ground. Okay, not lots. Some.

Avila was interesting, because there were lots of very modern shops in these thousand-year-old buildings. The main part of the city is walled, you know, to keep out the intruders, like Wal-Mart. But of course I kid. We wandered around the streets, and because of a lack of time, we decided not to visit St. Teresa’s cathedral or the museum. Upon someone’s recommendation, we did purchase yemas, a candy made with egg yolk and sugar. Must say, I’m not a fan of yemas.

We purchased tickets that got us up on top of the walls. This was awesome. We had such a fantastic view, and it was cool to think about who once stood up there and protected this little town from intruders, hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

Then back on the bus. Don’t think I’m going to like spending so much time on the bus. Andrew and I both felt sort of ill while on the bus. For me, it was the motion. For Andrew, it was last night’s wine. Definitely no drinking tonight.

From Avila, we headed to Salamanca. We both felt pretty shitty, so we didn’t want to do much. For some reason, we’re always hungry here. Not sure why. Maybe it’s just that we’re eating breakfast so early and lunch is so late? Maybe it’s because we haven’t figured out how to order normal meals? Anyway, we ate these tiny little sandwiches for lunch, but after wandering around Salamanca’s university grounds, we were still hungry, so we used the rest of our free time there to get more food. We went into this little wood-paneled place and ordered pizza margherita and agua minerale. Really hit the spot, but it took awhile, and we barely had time to make it back to the bus. So much for sight-seeing in Salamanca. We felt much better afterward, though. Thank god for that, because we still had a three-hour drive to Coimbra, Portugal. I’m for sure going to be more prepared tomorrow, with my PsiBands and Dramamine ready to go.

On the bus, our driver, Abdel, started playing bizarre Spanish music. Loudly. I found it irritating, because I wanted to sleep. Fortunately, I did doze a bit, but I hope this music thing isn’t going to be on every day. When I wasn’t sleeping, I watched the countryside go by. It’s beautiful. We were on a plateau, then headed into an area that had lots of hills and lots of limestone rocks. It got warmer as we headed west—no more snow. We saw a lot of wind turbines atop the hills in Portugal. Very cool. Also saw lots of smoke, lots of small fires burning. Trash, maybe? Also, there are tons of sheep in Portugal. We stopped at a rest area in Nowhere, Portugal, and I had the most delicious chocolate muffin and café con leche (but in Portuguese). The bathrooms are freezing here. A lot of things are cold—they’re not big on using a lot of heat, it seems. After awhile, Abdel switched the music to old American stuff, like “What a Feeling,” the ’80s classic, among other things. Andrew secretly hoped we’d hear “Bohemian Rhapsody” and that everyone would sing along.

It was dark by the time we got to Coimbra. We had a buffet dinner in our hotel. I thought everything was pretty good. We were sitting at a table with this British family of three that was part of our tour. People seem to think Americans are rude, but we were embarrassed to be at the same table with them because of how rude they were to the servers. They complained about everything. Crazy.

Our hotel room was absolutely freezing. We couldn’t even get our heat to turn on. Thankfully there was an extra blanket in the closet, so we snuggled up, got warm, and were finally able to get some good sleep.

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