19-20 de febrero
For my FIRST weekend adventure, I went to Portugal with my friends from my program: Megan, Eva, and Nikki. Portugal is a country that I have never been to prior my weekend excursion so I did not know what to expect, but I am happy to report that Portugal is AWESOME!
Here are my Lisbon highlights:
- St. George's Castle which is situated at one of the highest points in all of Lisbon that overlooks all the city
- The Street Art! Painted doors, tiled facades and floors, spray painted walls – Lisbon is full of color, design, and creativity everywhere you look.
- NATA = NEW FAVORITE FOOD. Portuguese pastry - think mini creme brulee - creme custard with flakey, golden brown crust that melts in your mouth.
- Torre de Belem (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Padrão dos Descobrimentos (monument dedicatd to Portuguese explorers)
- Dinner @ El Ultimo Tango, an Argentinian restaurant that my friend Megan's uncle had recommended to us. A quaint little restaurant hidden in the streets of Barrio Alto. Turns out the Portuguese eat as late as the Spanish do -- we were the only ones in the restaurant for the entire time we were there from 7:30-9:30pm! We all had steaks and if you know me, you know I was pretty happy.
- A rooftop bar. After scouring blogs and Pinterest recommendations, my friend Nikki found us the hidden gem of the weekend: Park Bar. Park Bar is a local bar in Lisbon that sits atop a parking garage. There are no signs – you just have to be in the know, and luckily, we were. I didn't even believe Nikki when she told us we just had to go up the staircase in the parking garage. Lo and behold, once we climbed to the 8th floor and opened door – voilà! A hidden bungalow-esque getaway complete with plants and string lights. Beautiful.
- Day Trip to Sintra (40 minute train ride from Lisbon). Along with moorish castles that sit atop the mountains, La Palacio National de Pena (another World Heritage Site!!) radiates its brilliant reds, yellow, and blue colors for all of the town to see. One of the coolest places I've ever been to. Not only is the castle beautiful, but the view from the top is out of this world! You truly feel like you are on top of the world.
First Stop: Lisbon (Lisboa)
20-21 de febrero
On Saturday night we flew to Porto which is in the northern part of the country. We stayed at Pilot Hostel and met up with a couple of other girls from my program. If you go to Porto and are looking to stay at a Hostel - I 200% recommend Pilot - clean, free big breakfast, accommodating.
Since we really hit the ground running in Lisbon, we spent our time in Porto relaxing by the river. We went on a boat tour as well as a tour of a Porto (Port Wine) factory. Port is very sweet - a dessert wine. It's a little too strong and sweet for me, but my friends really liked it! We also ate at this traditional Portuguese restaurant where we tried franceschina which is pretty much a heartattack on a plate. It's essentially several layers of meat with bread and gravy and an egg to top it all off! Again, a little too rich for me, but I love trying new foods!
Both Lisbon and Porto were absolutely fantastic. Couldn't have asked for a better or more productive first "vacation" on study abroad!