As mentioned in the Ireland blog (which I suggest you check out below) I just got back from Portugal. I was actually kind of on the fence about whether or not to go to Portugal, but I am so so so glad I did, because it was an absolutely amazing weekend, I had a fabulous time. The fact that Portugal wasn't on my list of places to go when I came over and the really long bus ride were really the two big reasons why I was considering skipping it, but the bus ride was really fun, and in hindsight, Portugal really should have been on my list, especially considering how close it is to Spain.
A huge group of a little over 20 people from UNC all went to Portugal together. Our bus left after class on Friday afternoon. We were all at the bus station ready to go at 3 o'clock and the bus did not show up for an entire hour. All part of the Spanish lifestyle - really laid back and a disregard for things like schedules. The bus ride was about 7 hours, but went by pretty quickly. We all made it off the bus, through the metro and to our hostel by about 11:00. Turns out our Hostel, Black and White, is run by a bunch of 20-something girls who were all really nice and helpful. I was in an 8 person room with 4 other people from UNC and one random Australian surfer. Saturday morning we all broke off into smaller groups to do some sight seeing. It was me and three other people, I think 4 was the perfect amount to go around with. We basically managed to see all of Lisbon in one day. We started out with this really pretty Cathedral that was pretty small, but REALY PRETTY:After the Cathedral we went to look for a museum of modern art, but we couldn't find it. We ended up wondering into a sort of open-air market that was selling old maps and books and such. After stopping to take a look we headed on to the castle, which despite being huge, was actually really hard to find. We did run into some pretty awesome look-out views on our search for the castle, which made it worth it. The castle was absolutely beautiful and offered an amazing view of Lisbon. Here is a bit of the castle with the Portuguese flag.
After the castle we stopped for some lunch and headed over to Belem, which literally translates to Bethlehem. First we went to the monastary which was really pretty as well as the cathedral attatched to it. We got the view of the Cathedral from the choir level, so we saw the whole thing from the top, very cool. Also, Belem is where the really famous navigators statue is:
After seeing the statue, as well as the bridge which you can see in the picture above thats modeled after the Golden Gate bridge we went and got some pastries which Lisbon is famous for. The pastries reminded me of French toast, and were amazing. Clearly most of Saturday was dedicated to sight-seeing, so it was pretty jammed packed, but really interesting. We made it back the the hostel, bought some food at the grocery store and cooked dinner in the kitchen in the hostel. Most of just hung out in the hostel that night talking and playing cards before heading to bed. The next day we went to Sintra, a city just outside of Lisbon that has beautiful castles. The castles in Lisbon are some of the ones that the Disney castles are modeled after. I liked them a lot because they were a lot different from the Gothic castles we usually see. These ones are really brightly colored. We hung out in Sintra for most of the day seeing the castles and then headed back to Lisbon.
By Saturday night a lot of people had already left to head back to Sevilla, and the group of us that was still in Lisbon hung out in the hostel and had an amazing time. The next day we caught the morning bus back to Sevilla and spent the majority of the time on the bus laughing and telling embarassing stories, which I had an embarassingly large number of.
I loved Lisbon and realized how much I love all the people from UNC I'm here with. As of right now I'm planning on taking this weekend off to get work done and I think I'll just stay in Sevilla.