'Portugal was born in Guimaraes," explains our tour guide during the 30-mile road trip from Porto airport to a 2012 European Capital of Culture. Now the affection which the Portuguese display for the nation's 900-year-old birthplace is to be shared with a wider audience, as organisers expect a doubling in visitor numbers to one million.
Most tourists can't get out of Malaga fast enough. They take a cheap flight to the airport, hire a car and head for the Costa Del Sol. Cruise passengers hop off at the port, many on to a waiting tour bus, to take them on to Grenada.
So here's the conundrum: a chance arises to grab a much needed mini-break but my husband and I have conflicting wish lists. My perfect tick-box break has to include stunning architecture, an abundance of history, perhaps a dash of Jewish culture, the rattle and hum of a vibrant city. He wants a sun lounger with back support, decent weather and a sea view.
I packed my bags for Island life in Mallorca in May 2009 but I am not new to Spain - far from it. Marbella guided me from my 20s through to my 30s but I reached my seven-year itch and I had to move on.