C AR L S O N
WAG O N L IT
T R AV E L
TOP 5 REASONS TO VISIT
WHERE DRAGONS DRINK PERU:
FINDING YOURSELF IN
THE LOST CITY SPAIN & PORTUGAL:
THE AWE OF ANTIQUITY
Macchu Picchu -Pe r u
SAVOR THE WORLD with THE FINEST CUISINE AT SEAâ„¢
P l e a s e co n t a c t yo u r l o c a l C a r l s o n Wa g o n l i t Tr a v e l o r C W T Va c a t i o n s o f f i ce fo r d e t a i l s . A s k a b o u t o u r e xc l u s i v e o f f e r s s u c h a s f r e e p r e -p a i d g r a t u i t i e s a n d co m p l i m e n t a r y s h o r e e v e n t s .
S PR I N G 2 0 1 7
YOUR STORY AWAITS
very journey presents an opportunity for discovery. Mythical landmarks, unique cuisine, unusual wildlife, fascinating history and unforgettable people â€” the rewards are great for travelers who embrace new adventures with an open heart, and an open mind. This issue takes us from the colorful Peruvian Amazon to the wondrous ruins of Angkor; from the sweeping plains of the Serengeti to the architectural marvels of Spain. We shine a much-needed light on the diverse and spectacular attractions of Africa, chase Incan mysteries in the Andes, and immerse ourselves in the delicious food markets of Portugal. A cruise from Cambodia to Vietnam introduces us to welcoming communities who live on the mighty banks of the Mekong River, while medieval castles and modern galleries are just some of the rich cultural surprises on the Iberian Peninsula. Every journey opens a door to destinations so vastly different from our own. We discover the world, but in doing so, we also discover ourselves.
INTO AFRICA: TOP 5 REASONS TO VISIT
MEKONG RIVER: WHERE DRAGONS DRINK
12 PERU: FINDING YOURSELF IN THE LOST CITY
SPAIN & PORTUGAL: THE AWE OF ANTIQUITY
INTO AFRICA Top 5 Reasons to Visit By Robin Esrock
Millennia ago, when our ancestors wandered the plains, natural selection took its course. The nervous Nelly who worried that every shadow was a lion was rewarded by being able to remain in the gene pool. Today, our DNA is hard coded to pay far more attention to that which might harm us, as opposed to that which probably wonâ€™t. All this might explain why good news from Africa is so hard to come by. The problems plaguing the worldâ€™s second largest continent often drown out the remarkable, the incredible, the magnificent and many once-in-a-lifetimes. Rest assured that Africa, a true travelerâ€™s destination, offers all of this in abundance. 3
The Wildlife Put yourself in a nature documentary
Most people closely associate Africa with
wildlife, and for good reason. Over 3,000 protected areas provide sanctuary for a stunning diversity of animals. Few experiences match an encounter with the mighty Big Five: elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and buffalo. Outstanding luxury, budget and self-catering lodges allow you to watch millions of zebras and wildebeests migrate between the Serengeti and Masai Mara, attracting thousands of predators in their wake. Catering largely to international clientele, hearing a lion roar in the distance while you gather around a camp fire – or swim in an infinity pool – is pure bucket list. Hunt big game with your cameras on walking safaris in renowned national parks found in Zambia, Namibia, Kenya and Tanzania. South Africa’s Kruger National Park is the size of Wales, with more mammals than anywhere else. Africa has 99% of the world’s lion population, 25% of the world’s bird life, and is the only place you’ll see hippos, giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, chimpanzees, gorillas and many other animals in the wild.
Use a little Hakuna Matata For North American visitors, the deep
wealth of traditional culture in Africa is exotic, strange, and alluring. For many, tribal encounters are highlights throughout the continent. In Kenya, I spent a day with a local Masai tribe, learning about their daily life, their co-existence with lions, and how jumping is a direct measure of a man’s attractiveness. Despite my efforts, the Masai guys had nothing to worry about! In Ethiopia, old priests showed me around stunning 11th century rock churches in Lalibela, which was followed by an unforgettable journey into the Omo Valley, home to 53 distinct tribes. A visit to the humble former home of Nelson Mandela on a Soweto Tour in Johannesburg leaves many a visitor inspired. Meanwhile, Africa’s modern cities crackle with energy, offering nightlife, performances, museums and dollar–friendly shopping. Tourists quickly find that Africans have big hearts, and bigger smiles. And though it takes a while to acclimatize to the slower pace of Africa Time, repeat this Swahili phrase like a mantra: Hakuna matata. It translates roughly as “No Worries Mate” and with a sense of humor, will see you through. Home to over one billion people speaking 1,500 distinct languages (with more French speakers than in France), each region of Africa is a cultural treasure box waiting to be opened.
Discover another world Mountains, waterfalls, canyons, beaches,
jungles, islands — the scenery of Africa is rugged, wild and something to behold. South Africa packs in a stunning array of eco-systems, including the magnificent coastline and sandy beaches along the famed Garden Route, the grand and accessible Drakensburg mountains, and the semi-arid Karoo region which gets blanketed in wildflowers. Adjacent, one finds the otherworldly red sand dunes of Namibia’s Sossusvlei, standing hundreds of feet high and protected by sprawling salt and clay pans. Victoria Falls, straddling the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, is twice the height and width of Niagara Falls. More water crashes into this chasm than anywhere else in the world. In Botswana’s Okavango Delta, motorboats take guests along the expansive river channels where wildlife and birdlife have gathered en masse. There are few mountains that allow you to summit without ropes at 19,341 feet, and fewer still with the storied history and incredible views of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. Aided by porters and guides, a trek to the top delivers one of the world’s most spectacular (and well-earned) sunrises.
History Illuminate the Dark Continent
A Taste for the Exotic Ever tried a Dawa cocktail? A popular
Europe does not hold the monopoly on
history. Africa is the birthplace of humanity. Historical wonders extend all the way from dinosaur fossils and human evolution in southern Africa to the Great Pyramids and Roman cities of North Africa. The so-called “Dark Continent” was illuminated by a number of sophisticated African kingdoms, from Ghana and Senegal to Ethiopia and Great Zimbabwe. Later on, a small, exotic island off the coast of Tanzania became the United States' most favored trading nation. Zanzibar, once the sordid center of the spice and slave trade, transports you to another world. Walk among Gothic churches and mosques in the narrow streets of Stone Town, or explore the Sultan’s House of Wonders. Hard to believe Freddy Mercury was born in one of Stone Town’s ash-blackened houses, protected by mighty wooden doors. Modern history is on display in Johannesburg’s outstanding Apartheid Museum, a deeply moving tribute to the political triumph of South Africa’s turbulent past.
drink throughout the continent, honey is added to vodka and mixed with a pestle-like stick, creating a perfectly balanced drink named for the Swahili word for “medicine.” In Ethiopia, rich meat and vegetable stews are blended with distinctive berbere spice and eaten with a sourdough flat bread that is spongy and delicious. Meals are followed by a spiced coffee ceremony, for Ethiopia is also the birthplace of the Arabica coffee bean. Grilled meats dominate the menu in South Africa, accompanied by outstanding New World wine that has swept the planet for good reason. Portuguese settlers made periperi, derived from the African Birds-Eye Chili and found throughout Mozambique and Angola, another global staple. Once you try the popular East African dish mogo, you’ll quickly realize why many Africans prefer cassava over potato. Fresh squeezed sugar-cane juice? Lean and tender ostrich steak? From Arabic-inspired mezze platters to a smorgasbord of game meats, African cuisine is deliciously full of surprises.
Bestselling author Robin Esrock visited more than 100 countries on 7 continents to research his latest book, The Great Global Bucket List.
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FASCINATING VIETNAM, CAMBODIA & THE MEKONG RIVER 13 DAY RIVER CRUISE
Immerse yourself in fascinating cultures and ancient traditions as you embark on an inspiring journey through Vietnam and Cambodia. Along the way, learn more about the history of each country, marvel at spectacular scenery, and interact with the friendly locals. This is a journey that will create memories you won’t soon forget!
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CAMBODIA & VIETNAM
MEKONG RIVER WHERE DRAGONS DRINK
Opening worlds of Asian adventure, on a river cruise from Cambodia to Vietnam down the mighty Mekong River.
BY TIM JOHNSON
t’s my first day on the Mekong, and I am touring a village — but it is unlike any settlement I’ve ever seen. Sitting aboard a narrow tender, we sweep up and down its streets. Kids swim and splash by us in the water, gondola-like taxis paddle on either side, their drivers waving to us happily, while women flag down one of the many market boats that also ply these aquatic alleys and streets, selling everything from salt to rice to gasoline. This is one of the many “floating villages” that line this great river, a stilted community of some 8,000 souls that depends on the Mekong’s muddy waters for every facet of its life. As we take in our surroundings, our cheery Cambodian guide drives home the point with unbridled enthusiasm. When we pass a stilted school, he tells us: “The children learn — on the river!” 7
When we steer close to a floating church, he explains: “They gather to worship — on the river!” And when an unpainted wooden boat, heavy-laden with bananas, slows to sell its wares, he almost cheers: “The families shop for groceries — on the river!” Long off-limits to travelers due to years of regional war and political unrest, the Mekong — one of Asia’s greatest rivers — is now safe and open for cruising. Flowing some 2,672 miles from its headwaters on the Tibetan Plateau down to the famous Delta in Vietnam — and sustaining the lives of some 60 million people that line its banks — the Mekong provides equal parts natural beauty and human drama. Sitting on the balcony of a river ship for a week, you can take in a lifetime of experiences, but the best adventures can be had by taking advantage of the daily excursions that are a staple of any river cruise, and which delve deep into the day-to-day life that pulsates around this mighty waterway. The river ships are able to navigate even relatively small channels and inlets, transporting guests into worlds of wonder that are often off limits to those bound to the land. The larger centers along the way certainly provided great fascination, as well as some sobering doses of history. We experienced the ancient pleasures of the 800-year-old temples around Angkor Wat, near Siem Reap. This vast
and exquisite Buddhist temple (Wat is the Khmer name for temple) is Cambodia’s most renowned and awe-inspiring, and is stunning in both its grand scale and incredible detail. Built in the first half of the 12th century it took more than 30 years to complete and is one of the most important and iconic places to see in Cambodia. It’s a virtual masterpiece and the best preserved of the temples in the region. We also heard stories of the Killing Fields in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, illustrated by a visit to the museum at Tuol Sleng, a former high school in the city center that was transformed into a prison camp during the terrifying 1970s reign of Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge. And we visited vestiges of the “American War,” touring a former Viet Cong military camp at Xeo Quyt as well as the bustling streets of old Saigon – now the modern Ho Chi Minh City, a hopeful place surging fast into the future. Perhaps the most memorable adventures came about in the smallest villages along the way — places that have remained relatively untouched by the passage of time. We took oxcart rides down bumpy roads and entered grand, ornate temples to receive Buddhist blessings from the resident monks. We visited tiny textile villages with no proper roads, and were invited into
people’s homes, walking around the small, stilted wooden back in Cambodia, the people here who live near the Mekong structures, and being treated to demonstrations of the depend wholly on it for their existence, calling it their Mother time-honored technique of weaving textiles by hand on (its name is derived from the Khmer word “Mae,” which wooden, foot-operated looms. means “mother”). They fish, transport goods, and ply its The most enduring memory of my time on the Mekong waters in floating homes, which also serve as places of business came on one of the last days of the journey, just over the for thousands. Cambodian border, near Tan Chau, Vietnam. In the 1970s, We landed near a small village, and a pack of young this part of the borderlands became a refuge for hundreds children engulfed us as we disembarked the tender, doling out of Cambodians, who fled to a cheerful high fives, swarming long, low island in the middle those in our group who were The best adventures can be of the river to escape the murthoughtful enough to bring derous Khmer Rouge. Their had by taking advantage of along bags of candies, and using descendants were pooled in their limited English to tell us the daily excursions that are their names and ask us where small groups, gathering at the river to greet us, the children we were from. They welcomed a staple of any river cruise. waving excitedly, even jumping us to their village, sometimes up and down to welcome our holding our hands as we were ship’s arrival. We offloaded into the tenders and buzzed escorted down its tiny main street. This is a place that the along the Mekong’s murky, chocolate-colored water, passing landlocked never get to see — there are no bridges to the the boats of families who live on the river in rugged vessels mainland, and ferry service is provided in local boats, if at packed to the gunnels and moving low in the water with all. Women sat under coned hats and busily husked corn, frightening-looking eyes painted on each side of their boats while men swung in hammocks and waved to us as we to scare off the monsters that swim below. Our Vietnamese passed by. Time moves slowly in places like this, and we guide, Thinh, explained that, like those in the floating village marveled at the openness of the people, in some cases literally.
Often just a short stop on the tourist trail, B
Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay—a place of beauty and Y
mystery—is highly deserving of spending far more than a day. This remarkable and world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, whose dazzling natural beauty spreads over 549 square miles, attracts visitors from around the world. While many settle for a day trip to Ha Long Bay, it is worth so Á
BAY OF DRAGONS
The homes in the village have no front walls — every place is an open book, with the gaping fronts revealing all, from beds to bags of rice for cooking, to photos of grandkids hanging on the wall. We proceeded from there to Tan Chau, a larger city on the mainland, and after visiting a busy little silk factory we were chauffeured through town on rickshaw-like bicycle taxis left over from the days of French Indochina — an experience made all the more memorable when what seemed like the entire population of the community emerged from their homes and shops to wave and smile as we passed, the children smiling and yelling “Hello! Hello! Hello!” Soon, the journey was over, and as we offloaded the ship and boarded a coach, passing over the many canals and tributaries of the Mekong Delta enroute to Saigon, I reflected on the journey I had just completed. The previous day, on the way to the island village, Thinh had shared with us a 4,000-year-old Vietnamese legend. Those living along the river, he said, see the dragon as their father. Every dragon needs water and that water is provided by the river. No longer would I think of the Mekong as a place of strife, or a famous site of 20th century war. Rather, it is the mother … it is lifeblood … it is water for dragons.
much more than just a glimpse. Perhaps choose B À
to spend a few days on these beautiful waters, I S L A
D 2,000 of those stunning which navigate more Nthan
islands, created so long ago by dragons.
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In the Lost City
By Robin Esrock
A decade ago, I set out on a yearlong adventure to discover the world, and hopefully myself in the process. Travel teaches us as much about the planet as it does about ourselves, and my journey to 24 countries was far richer than my formal years of education. I chased ancient wonders and exotic cultures, romance and adventure. My first port of call was Peru, a country that borders five other South
American nations and seems to soak up the best of all of them. Mountains, colonial towns, beaches, world-class dining, ancient ruins, and jungles – the “Land of the Inca” also boasts 28 of the planet’s 32 climates, and 20 percent of the world’s birds and butterflies. It's no surprise that travelers flock to the continent’s third largest country with hopes to discover it all.
nlike several major cities in South and Central America, Lima is more than just a gateway to something better. I arrived in the coastal capital during the city’s remarkable rise to the very apex of South America’s culinary scene. World-class restaurants helmed by rock star chefs have mastered the country’s ample and unusual ingredients, picking up international awards in the process. Here, you’ll sample fruits, fish and flavors you can taste nowhere else: dorado cooked in bijao leaf, grilled paiche with snake fruit puree, and for dessert: charapita chilli pepper marshmallows! Peru’s mouth-watering national dish is ceviche, comprised of raw seafood delicately cooked in lime juice, salt, cilantro and giant corn kernels. Wash it down with the deceptively sweet Pisco Sour, Peru’s national drink, consisting of pisco (a clear brandy), lime, egg whites, bitters and sugar. Both drink and dish are definitely refreshing after a full day exploring Lima’s historical colonial center, and wandering about the ornate colonial churches and buildings. Don’t miss the 17th century Franciscan Monastery, where you’ll find catacombs decorated with the carefully arranged skeletons of 25,000 people. More lively is the city’s ample green spaces, like the Parque Kennedy, Parque del Amor, and the pathway through knotted, ancient olive trees in the upscale neighborhood of Miraflores. One doesn’t think of beaches in Peru, and yet 24 hours after my plane touched down in Lima, I found myself eating homemade ceviche at a private beach club. The owner had
invited me, and he raved about a surf town north of Lima called Chicama that is blessed with the world’s longest, most perfect left-breaking wave. World-class surfing in Peru? I had no idea, but after a wonderful and tasty introduction to the country, I was eager to catch a wave to the country’s most famous attraction: Cuzco, and the ancient wonder of Machu Picchu. When the Spanish conquered the Inca in the 1500’s, they had also defeated what was then the world’s largest civilization. At its peak, the Incan empire stretched across Peru, Ecuador, and large parts of Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Colombia. Their capital city, located 11,154 feet above sea level, in the Andes mountains, was Cuzco. Worshipping a sun god named Inti, the Inca called Cuzco “the naval of the world,” and today it draws international travelers from the planet’s four corners. It is a city of stunning colonial architecture, which includes churches, cathedrals, and the city’s main hub, the Plaza des Armes. Cuzco’s many architectural and museum attractions serve as a gateway to Inca highlights that include the Sacred Valley, Inka Wasi, and the Incan citadel of Saksaywaman. This provided plenty to do as I got used to the unfamiliar altitude, which can turn a small hill into an exhausting trudge. Fortunately, a few days are all one needs to acclimatize, although some travelers might want to look into remedies for altitude sickness, and watch their pisco sour intake! There are several ways to get to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. Adventurous travelers book ahead to get
a spot on the renowned Inca Trail, a four-day hike into the only be seen from the air. Do they represent constellations, Andes along an ancient pathway that deposits you at Sun pilgrimage routes, landing strips for spacecraft? Nobody Gate. Overlooking the mythical ruins at sunrise, trekkers can knows. We do however know why the colonial city of explore Machu Picchu well before the tour buses arrive. Most Arequipa sparkles. Many of the buildings in this UNESCO visitors take the tourist train from Cuzco to Agua Caliente World Heritage Site were constructed of white stone or Ollantaytambo and hop on shuttle buses to navigate the quarried from surrounding volcanoes. We also know steep mountain switchbacks. that the Colca Canyon nearby Both groups converge at this After my long trek along the is twice as deep as the Grand remarkable Incan site, built Canyon, with incredible views Inca Trail, I relished the ambi- and soaring condors overhead. in the 15th century but lost to history until it was brought ance, surrounding mountain In Puno, stand at the shores of to worldwide attention by an Titicaca, the world’s highest scenery, terraced steps, and American explorer in 1911. navigable river, sparkling under Spanish conquistadors defaced deep-blue sky. Here I visited a famous views. There’s simply avillage or destroyed most Incan sites, of Uros, the indigenous but Machu Picchu remained nowhere else on Earth like it. boat people, living on floating hidden, unscathed and islands made entirely of reeds. mysteriously abandoned. Guides walk you through the There had already been so much diversity, but with a quick attractions, including the Temple of the Sun, the Temple flight north to the jungle city of Iquitos, I was about to of Three Windows and the Temple of the Condor. After discover a whole lot more. my long trek along the Inca Trail, I relished the ambiance, Sixty percent of Peru — an area that is longer than surrounding mountain scenery, terraced steps, and famous Spain — is comprised of the Amazon jungle, an area that is views. There’s simply nowhere else on Earth like it. larger than Spain. With Iquitos as the gateway, outstanding Peru is rich with one-of-a-kind experiences. Climb eco-lodges line the banks and tributaries of the planet’s aboard a small flightseeing plane to view the mysterious mightiest river, while various boats take visitors on multiNazca Lines, comprised of hundreds of images of animals, day excursions into the impenetrable rainforest. This is a shapes, plants and people. Sprawled across 279 miles of region of unsurpassed bio-diversity. Sipping a pisco sour on desert-dry plateau, these giant, remarkable images can deck, I see splashes of bright-colored macaws and parrots 15
Bestselling author Robin Esrock visited over 100 countries on seven continents to research his latest book, The Great Global Bucket List.
appear in the sky, accompanied by a chorus of unfamiliar chirps, barks and croaks. How big is the Amazon? During rainy season, parts of the river can swell to over 118 miles in width! With a luxury riverboat as a mothership, we explore tributaries on smaller motorboats, spotting monkeys, sloths, caymans, and birdlife. We also visit small communities of people who call the Amazon home, dropping off supplies for a local school. I end up playing soccer with some kids on a clear-cut field, but when the ball is kicked into the jungle thicket, I let one of the locals retrieve it. Earlier that day on a short walk, my guide pointed out tarantula and a perfectly camouflaged anaconda.
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Teeming with life, the jungle feels like it can swallow you whole. No wonder villagers live atop stilted wooden huts. Although seeing pink dolphins and fishing for piranha were definite highlights, I found each cultural encounter with villagers as fascinating as the Amazon’s wildlife. It would be a few more years (and many more miles) before I could say I found myself. Fortunately, the many natural, historical and cultural wonders of Peru ensured I would also find myself in Peru again. Each visit continues to unravel a remarkable destination as diverse as the travelers who choose to visit it.
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SPAIN & PORTUGAL
By Helen Rose WHAT DOES IT MEAN to see a foreign landscape for the first time? We set out on another adventure; this trip is our first trip to Portugal and Spain. As the flight descends into Lisbon we see the iconic 25th of April suspension bridge spanning the Tagus River, and the varied architecture influenced by early explorers with names that are romantic and intriguing such as Vasco da Gama, Bartholomeu Dias, Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan and Pedro Alvares Cabral.
One of the oldest cities in Europe is waiting to be explored. And it is exciting; the smell of the ocean, the naturally warm hospitality of the locals and food such Caldo Verde, the most traditional soup of Portugal. We find a treasure in the Time Out Market Lisboa, where you choose your food; the selection is astounding â€“ over 70 types of fish including sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies. We continue with seafood, meat of all kinds, salads, sandwiches, wine, beer, port and coffee. 17
of View n Lisbo
COBBLESTONE STREETS meander
throughout astonishing architecture influenced by a history as old as time. Lisbon’s history begins at 10,000 BC, if you can imagine, and we are itching to explore this magical place complete with castles, palaces, and fortresses that really do come with turrets and small flags fluttering in the breeze. Easy to pass the time looking at the marvelous scenery. I wouldn’t be surprised if a knight in armor rode out on his white horse at any moment. It’s as if we have stepped into a fairy tale world of princesses, princes and staggering wealth. As we relax while eating lunch at one of the many street side cafés to choose from in Praco de Comercio, the public square, we sip port. After all, this is what Portugal is famous for, among other things, like surfing, diving, swimming in grottoes, kayaking, golf and fabulous food. We study the visitor guides that offer an endless list of experiences,
a do ç a r P rcio Comé
each one exciting and wonderful. The choices are intriguing: Tower of Belem, Jeronimos Monastery, and Queluz — the place with a pink palace. Getting around is easy. It seems to me walking (or rather, wandering) takes you to little nooks and crannies leading to the centuries-old, grand buildings that house splendid museums and art galleries. There must be at least 20 of each — too many to list. We simply want to see them all. In particular, we're struck by The National Coach Museum, showcasing a stunning collection of historical carriages made in Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Austria and England. We pose beside an ornate gold chariot from the 1700s; a fantastical piece set in surreal surroundings. We are astounded by the gorgeous ceilings of the building — masterpieces unto themselves. More photo ops for sure as we step back into centuries of rich history.
or in d a t Ma Spain WE LOVE PORTUGAL and promise
ril b A de ge d i r B
we will be back. As mentioned earlier, we are on another adventure. Next stop Spain! Spain is home to matadors, flamenco dancers, gypsies and perhaps one of the most famous cities, Barcelona. It's romantic and wonderful: the people, culture, history, and its most notable architect, Antoni Gaudi. We set out to see 10 of his must-see buildings, each one whispering stories of its past. Along the way, we discover tapas bars serving small appetizer-like samples of Spanish cuisine such as gambas al ajillo, cazon en adobo, bacalao and calamares to name a few. Delicious! We save the very best for last, La Sagrada Familia, the most famous of Gaudi’s work. It’s an extraordinary sight to see. An attraction so magnificent,
ada r g a S lia í m a F
you truly have to stand here to be able to relay the experience. We find it remarkable that this has been under construction since 1892 and completion is not expected until 2030. This beautiful country offers us incredible experiences and sights — mountains, beaches, wine, port, Salvador Dali’s house, more castles, history and a varied selection of traditional Spanish dishes and recipes that are hundreds of years old. We are grateful for our three weeks in Portugal and Spain, and take home memories that will last a lifetime.
l bas a Gam o Ajill
ts of e e r t S elona Barc
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