The sun is shining and the air smells like a mix of oranges and sea air. Street music, languages of the world, and daily city life sounds flood the ears. The buildings are adorned in their own type of jewelry, sporting all colors of the rainbow and every pattern imaginable, repeated over and over by beautiful tiles. The hills are never ending, reaching the top of one only leads to the bottom of another. This is Portugal.
Portugal was never a country I had specifically planned on visiting, but thankfully fate made it happen! In France, they have the wonderful concept of two breaks during the second semester, one week in mid-February and another in mid-April. They obviously realize that the summer fever sets in as soon as second semester does, and the students desperately need some relief two times in the semester. Thank you French government! So this amazing adventure took place during that mid-week of February, right in the midst when this Mississippi raised girl was about to give up on the cold. I believe I was actually having withdrawals from the lack of sun and tried to compensate with Milka chocolate bars…
My awesome friend Ashley (thanks Hash!!) coordinated the entire thing, somehow managing to bring together 7 people from all different countries (Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and US). We were a mess and it was great!!
I was lucky enough to visit both the capital, Lisbon (spending 2.5 days there) and Porto, one of the larger cities further north (spending 2.5 theres also). I loved both cities; they are filled with everything that brings pure joy and happiness to the soul!(chocolate, laughter, and sunshine)
LISBON: Upon immediately walking around this city, my feet were sore, and I was already obsessed with the buildings covered in tiles! I am so thankful for everything that we saw: the castle, ruins, cathedrals, orange gardens, towers and tall statues (next to what I still am not quite convinced wasn’t the Golden Gate Bridge), beaches at 2am, and the many streets of bars filled with hundreds of people. But the hills are no joke. Comfortable, orthopedic shoes should be heavily considered as a must bring. Smart me only brought shoes with a one inch heel; my feet died several times over.
Aside from walking the hills, the city is lovely. We enjoyed two days of wondering and discovering, and were able to see much of the city with little planning, even taking a train to the outskirts to see <–La Tour de Belem. I honestly just love being an “adult” and traveling! Finding out what works for me, and how I do like to organize but trips can be just as amazing with little planning. There isn’t a perfect formula for trip planning, making each trip more memorable and unique!
But I did love love Porto a tad more… PORTO:
Similar to Lisbon, Porto is on the coast of Portugal, which means beaches!! So after having an early flight and arriving to our place around 10am, (included 30 mins of searching, woo for being lost tourists!!) we headed to the beach! After being in cold France, anything with sun seemed like paradise to us. So while it was probably only about 65F our first day, we sunbathed and napped on the beach like professional sea lions.
We spent all afternoon just lounging, exploring the rocks, and munching on chocolate, enjoying the simplicity of life at the moment.
Our second day in Porto: We discovered a sort of old fortress that is in the midst of the city, that they are currently on working to restore, but Europe is wonderful, and they don’t have the type of off limits to ruins and landmarks that the States does, so we were able to explore it and found a huge orange garden! So of course, that required us eating as many oranges as we could!
Right from the top of this tower or wall, you could see most of the city laid out before you. The river in front with bridges to both sides, the rooftops of homes and businesses, the colorful life that thrives in this city.
This trip was incredible. I got to discover another culture, one I knew almost nothing about before. I got to eat a lot of good food, which always pleases my tummy, and I got to share great conversations with some amazing people. These white French buildings of stone will never compare to your beautiful tiles!! Till the next time, Portugal!