Spain Third Week – Weekend in Portugal

It looks like the main topic for this blog is going to be my trip to Portugal last weekend, but we’ll see I might be able to squeeze in the class trip to El Escorial and Avila, and maybe if we’re REALLY lucky I’ll be able to touch on the fact that I am currently with my mom, dad, and sister in Barcelona. The problem is that my mom and dad are sleeping in the hotel room—jet lag—and my sister and I are trying to rest a little bit before we go out. So we’ll see how much I can get written down in the next our or so. At any rate, here is what happened in Portugal.

It all started on Friday morning when we had to meet at the bus station at 7 am, which means we had to wake up at 6. This normally would not be too much of a problem yet Eric, Jonathan, and I had an idea– that seemed flawless at the time—to try to stay up as late as possible so that way we would be able to sleep on the bus. This plan failed miserably as we all went to sleep at 5:30 and could not fall asleep on the bus making the entire first day extremely difficult. We got to the city of Coimbra at around 10 or 11 am and we stopped to explore for a few hours. Eric, Jonathan, Sinjun, and I decided to walk around and see as much as possible in the 3 hours of free time that we were allotted. As magnificent as the city was, it was nothing special in comparison to Lisbon. But if someone were to step off a plane from the states and see Coimbra before they saw Lisbon they would be blown away. We saw pretty views, mostly of housing or the beautiful river that runs through the city, and ate at a quaint Indian/Portuguese restaurant for lunch. At 1:30 everyone that was signed up for the trip went back on the bus and went on a guided tour of Coimbra and that left my friend Chayan and I to do some more exploring of the city on our own. We walked around for about an hour and showed each other some things that we found in the previous free time we had, but they best part was when we decided to go to the grocery store and get food and have a picnic by the river. Eventually it came time for us to wrap up our relaxing picnic and get back on the bus and head to Lisbon with the rest of the group.

We got to Lisbon around 7 or 8 I believe, and Eric, Jonathan, and I were still exhausted from the previous nights debauchery. We ended up just going out to see the nightlife a little bit and grab a bite to eat but we made sure we were in bed before 1 am so that we would be rejuvenated for the guided tour of Lisbon the next day. We woke up leisurely the next morning and got on the tour bus before 10 am. The tour guide showed us several different landmarks such as; the famous cathedral, the “white house” of Portugal—which happens to be pink, the dock that Vasco De Gama left from on his expedition, a castle looking land mark that serves some sort of purpose that remains a mystery to me, a museum that had famous pictures by Monet, Manet, and several others, and my personal favorite the castle de Jorge. Before I talk about the castle de Jorge I have to tell you about these pastries that we ate. There are these pastries in Portugal that are ubiquitous yet I cannot remember their name for the life of me but they are little cups that have some warm cinnamon-y custard, and they are to die for. If you are ever in Portugal I hope that my vague description will guide you to these delicious treats.

Anyway the castle de Jorge is known for its incredible view specifically at sunset as it overlooks all of Lisbon from the top of a hill. Most of the group was too tired to go but my friends Oscar and Jonathan agreed to go with me only so that when people tell them about a beautiful sunset they saw we would be able to say “oh really? That’s cool, I saw a sunset from a castle on top of a mountain in the capital of Portugal,” and instantly make any other sunset seem inferior. When we got up to the top of the castle and saw the view/sunset, it was even more beautiful than people made it sound. I was elated that I gave up the 3 hours of napping in order to see this view because it was like nothing I have ever seen before. Definitely the most stunning view I have seen on the trip thus far and I’ll be sure to let you know if there is anything that comes close. After the sunset we went back to nap for a few hours in order to rest up for the supposedly insane Portuguese nightlife.

After a well-deserved two-hour nap it was time to gear up and go see the nightlife for ourselves. We went to this part of town called Barrio Alto, which is basically a very condensed area that is littered with bars and young inebriated people. Literally every 4 feet there is another bar and the drunk folk in the street are shoulder to shoulder trying to get from bar to bar. The only thing I can compare it to is Isla Vista in Santa Barbara on Halloween, except every weekend. Once we were done there headed to the pier to see a concert that my friend Eric was adamant about attending. It was a dubstep concert, and normally you would not find me listening to dubstep even if you paid me. However, I decided to go for the experience and the other club we wanted to go to said it costs us 240 euro a person to get in, and no that’s not a typo. I probably stayed at the concert for a total of 30 minutes before I decided I have had enough and headed back so I can get some sleep.

Overall it was an amazing trip and I am so grateful that I was able to go on it. In fact I am going back to Porto, Portugal in a few weeks, so the Portuguese have not seen the last of me.

I have a 7 hour trip back to Salamanca tomorrow from Barcelona so I’ll tell you about El Escorial, Avila, and my Family trip. I found a valid excuse for not blogging about my family weekend, and it is because I still have one more day with them and I do not want to leave it out of the blog. So stay tuned and hear about it in the next few days J

p.s. I forgot to mention that Lisbon looks a lot like San Francisco, it even has a golden gate bridge. This is not just me being a tiny bit homesick its actually known to resemble SF, you can look it up for yourself 🙂

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