Ever since I’ve cemented my desires to go to grad school in Europe (most likely Germany right now!), I’ve been revisiting my old blog from when I studied abroad (the original “There She Goes Again” ;)) in Madrid. Reading all my old online journal entries made me realize something… I have written criminally little about the last minute trip I made to Portugal! I remember being in England at the beginning of the week, school for a day or two, and then getting on a bus Thursday night with European Vibe to spend a weekend Portugal. I remember thinking, “Well, for 109 euros, why not?”
We traveled by bus from Madrid to Lisbon all through the night, and when we arrived I was incredibly surprised by how charming this city was. Pastel colored buildings, very little crowding, and very few tourists. Compared to the blustery, rainy October I experienced in England only days before, Lisbon was sunny and warm. It’s still to this day one of my favorite cities because of how colorful it was. We stayed at Lisb’on Hostel, a place I highly recommend if you’re on a tight budget traveling through Europe. The hostel reflected the brightness of the city with gorgeous little details, bright motifs throughout, and a location in Bairro Alto, the center of Lisbon.
The first day we arrived, we got some advice from our hostel and headed out to explore. Lisbon is incredibly walk-able, so we wandered around in the good weather, taking in the architecture from the ground to the buildings up high. We went into the remains of the Carmo Convent, a Gothic convent built in the end of the 14th century and ruined in an earthquake in the 18th century. It’s now used as an archeological museum, so of course we had fun exploring and goofing off like only college kids can, and I distinctly remember falling in love with a cat while here. We ate dinner and ended up in Praça do Comércio to catch the sunset over the ocean.
On Saturday we had a coastal tour, stopping in Cascais and Sintra, two smaller towns outside of Lisbon. Cascais is seaside, and Sintra is more in the foothills. Sadly, we didn’t get nearly enough time in either places. Our tour guides went a little too fast for my tastes, and this tour was mere hours (we didn’t even get to go to the castle Sintra is famous for). We got maybe an hour to hang out in each town, which would be too short for a small village! This might also be why Portugal is high up on my list of returns. I’d like to spend more time in the country and at my own pace.
On our final day before we left, we headed towards Castelo de Sao Jorge. We even tried to take a tram up for the experience, and it broke down on us before we could make it all the way there! I’m pretty sure we wound up walking the rest of the way. Situated wayyy up high, we knew this would be the only thing we could get in before we had to board our bus, so we got up fairly early to go. With a history as far back as the early BCs, we knew we had to at least get here, especially with missing out on Sintra’s castle the day before. It didn’t disappoint even with the pre-rain weather! Plus you get some pretty awesome views from up top, and you know how I am when it comes to landscape views!
If I had to explain how much I loved Lisbon, let me just say this: I had a horrible cold from the English weather, I got stung by a bee and learned I’m probably slightly allergic to bees, I didn’t love my tour company, I went through two pairs of shoes, and I STILL loved my time here. I can’t wait to return and spend a lot more time hanging out and roaming the country. I can’t imagine what other beautiful places are in this country.
Words and Photographs by Samantha (with 1 or 2 probably stolen from friends over the years)
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Very helpful for my upcoming trip to Lisbon. I was going to do a Sintra tour but I’m thinking more of an overnight now. Thank you!
Glad it was helpful! Definitely do overnight and give yourself plenty of time :)