Portugal and Spain 2016

Panorama of Porto's Old Quarter and the Douro River     


Check these websites for information on weather in Spain:

For weather in Northern Spain, where we'll be:

For weather in Northern Portugal:

What to pack

You've heard this before--we encourage you to pack lightly. We will probably have to haul our own bags through airports or at least through customs, though we will, of course, have help with bags at hotels and on and off buses. You can get laundry done in all the hotels. We will not need any dressy clothes as both Portugal and Spain are casual.

Here is a suggested list of what to take:

  1. 1 pair casual, very comfortable, shoes for sightseeing-closed toes are best-that will also be good for hiking
  2. sandals
  3. 2-3 pairs hiking pants or similar
  4. 1 pair shorts
  5. 3-4 casual short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts
  6. 1 dressier shirt or sweater for evenings
  7. 1 pair dressier pants or skirt for dinners, though everything will be casual, so not really necessary
  8. 1 fleece jacket or pullover
  9. 1 warm, wind proof rain jacket
  10. 2 long-sleeved shirts (hiking shirts are great) for hiking, sightseeing in the sun or cooler evenings
  11. sleepwear
  12. small flashlight
  13. bathing suit
  14. sunglasses
  15. plastic poncho-nice, but not essential, the backpack variety that folds up into a small package
  16. umbrella
  17. underwear and socks
  18. travel alarm clock
  19. all your standard medications
  20. Imodium or similar in case you get a stomach bug
  21. standard toiletries (hotels will have hair dryers)
  22. hand wipes and hand sanitizer
  23. sunscreen
  24. mosquito repellant
  25. several zip lock plastic bags
  26. sun hat for sightseeing
  27. camera with extra disk and batteries and battery charger
  28. adaptor kit (http://whatplug.info/from/spain/to/portugal)
  29. whatever you like to read
  30. small travel pillow (optional)
  31. copy of information page of passport
  32. 2 passport photos (just in case)
  33. phone and charger (check with your mobile provider about international packages)
  34. iPad or tablet if you use them for internet access
  35. spare pair of prescription glasses if you use them (optional)
  37. day pack


    Roger Crowley, Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire, 2015
    The epic story of the emergence of Portugal, a small, poor nation that enjoyed a century of maritime supremacy thanks to the daring and navigational skill of its explorers-a tactical advantage no other country could match. Portugal's discovery of a sea route to India, campaign of imperial conquest over Muslim rulers, and domination of the spice trade would forever disrupt the Mediterranean and build the first global economy.

    Barry Hatton, The Portuguese, 2016
    In the fifteenth-and sixteenth-century Age of Discovery the Portuguese led Europe out of the Mediterranean into the Atlantic and they brought Asia and Europe together and, today, the Portuguese language which is spoken by more than 220 million people from Brazil, across parts of Africa to Asia. Analyzing present-day society and culture, The Portuguese also considers the nation's often tumultuous past. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake was one of Europe's greatest natural disasters, strongly influencing continental thought and heralding Portugal's extended decline. The Portuguese also weathered Europe's longest dictatorship under twentieth-century ruler António Salazar. Portugal's quirky relationship with Spain, and with its oldest ally England, is also scrutinized. Portugal, which claims Europe's oldest fixed borders, measures just 561 by 218 kilometres .

    Poelzl and Volker, CultureShock!, 2013
    CultureShock! Portugal is every reader's guide to living, working and adapting to life in this beautiful, charming country. As well as providing the practical information essential for anyone moving to a foreign land, this book guides you through the picturesque countryside, from vineyards to almond groves. Visit old-fashioned villages where bar owners know their patrons and grocers know their customers. Discover how the work environment ticks and what is important to the Portuguese people. For anyone wanting to truly understand and experience what it is like to live in Portugal, CultureShock! Portugal is a must read.

    Antonio Araujo and Angela Juliano, Porto Bucket List 55 Secrets - The Locals Guide to Make The Most Out of Your Trip to Porto, 2015
    55 Secrets you would never find out about the city of Porto

    William d. Phillips, Jr. and Carla Rahn Phillips, A Concise History of Spain (Cambridge Concise Histories), 2010
    The rich cultural and political life of Spain has emerged from its complex history, from the diversity of its peoples, and from continual contact with outside influences. This book traces that history from prehistoric times to the present, focusing particularly on culture, society, politics, and personalities.

    James Michener, Iberia

    Kirstin Downey, Isabella: The Warrior Queen, 2014
    An engrossing and revolutionary biography of Isabella of Castile, the controversial Queen of Spain who sponsored Christopher Columbus' journey to the New World, established the Spanish Inquisition, and became one of the most influential female rulers in history.

    Paddy Woodworth, The Basque Country, 2012
    The Basque Country is a land of fascinating paradoxes and enigmas. Home to one of Europe's oldest peoples and most mysterious languages, with a living folklore rich in archaic rituals and dances, it also boasts a dynamic post-modern energy, with the reinvention of Bilbao creating a model for the twenty-first-century city of cultural services and information technologies. This is the stage for fierce political passions. Almost every aspect of the Basque Country generates passionate disagreement, even its precise location. Spanish and French centralism, often authoritarian and sometimes brutal, has met with resistance for two centuries. But many Basques consider themselves full French or Spanish citizens, and fear political and linguistic exclusion under Basque nationalist rule.

    Belen Aguado Viguer, Spain - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture, 2016
    Culture Smart! Spain explores the complex human realities of modern Spanish life. It describes how history and geography have created both regional differences and shared values and attitudes. It reveals what the Spaniards are like at home, and in business, and how they socialize. It prepares you for their boundless energy and widespread religious devotion; and offers practical tips on how to behave and make the very most of your visit.


    As member countries of the European Union, Portugal and Spain are easy for traveling. You do not need any special immunizations and can drink the water (though we'll provide bottled water in our buses) and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Food and water safety standards are similar to those in the US. Nonetheless, we suggest you take Imodium or a similar medication just in case you pick up a stomach bug.
    These Centers for Disease Control traveler websites will give you full information about health in Portugal and Spain:

    Culture and Customs

    These websites will give you good tips about Spain and Portugal's customs and cultures:
    http://guide.culturecrossing.net/basics_business_student.php?id=189 (scroll down to the "basics: section)


    U.S. and Swiss citizens do not need visas for Portugal and Spain.

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