Follow Brooke as she studies abroad in Dublin, Ireland and travels Europe.
For our spring break, my friend and I traveled to Portugal. We began our journey in Porto, and headed south to Lisbon, or Lisboa in Portuguese. We left Dublin, where I am studying abroad, at 4:00 a.m. Being students, we wanted to find the lowest airfare possible, so we found a flight leaving at 5:50 a.m. We had a three-hour layover in Germany and headed into Porto airport. We asked a taxi driver about finding the metro, and he was one of the friendliest people I have ever met! He knew little to no English, but showed us the way by motioning with his hands.
At the Travellers House, they offered a wine testing night. It was so fun learning about the different Portugese wines. Porto is known for their wine caves, or cellars, and you can find them on the bank of the river as you walk along. One type of wine that can only be found in Portugal is Verde Vino, green wine. This is made by taking the white grapes before they are fully developed, giving it a very strong bitter taste that should be eaten with fish.
After Porto, we headed on the train south to Lisbon. It is such an energetic city, filled with so much history and sprinkled with modern touches. Lisbon is in a valley. The old city, Alfama, is on the right and the newer city can be found on the left. If you are there for a few days, I recommend take a day to see one side and another to see the opposite side.
The first full day in Lisbon we spent the day wandering around the newer section of the city. One of the men who worked at our hostel saw us looking at a map and came over and circled and drew all over it, showing us the best of Lisbon, which included places tourists don't go to. We started our day bright early and headed around the corner to a beautiful lookout point. We could see the terracotta roofs, the Castelo De Sao Jorge (a beautiful castle) and Tio Tejo (the Tagus River).
There is one traditional appetizer and or meal that almost every household serves: chorizos (Portuguese smoked sausages) marinated green olives, sheep's milk cheese, fresh bread, and some red wine. What is so unique about this meal is that the chorizos are cooked on an open flame grill made out of clay. This grill is hand made and looks a little bit like a casserole bowl. They take alcohol and put it on the grill. Then you take your Chorizo and dice it, this way the juices are released to help keep the fire ignited. In a few minutes, you take them off the grill and eat them with some bread and cheese. Believe me when I say it is absolutely delicious!
Later on, I visited Alfama, the old city. It is known as a place that's meant for you to get lost in. With this in mind, I felt free to wander the small windy streets and marvel at the incredible tile work, old cathedrals, and orange trees. It looks so much like what you mind find in a story that it almsot does not seem real. I then traveled to the local castle, Castelo De Sao Jorge, where I walked around the ruins with incredible views of the city and peacocks all over the lawns.
Lisbon is truly an enchanting city, and I encourage everyone to go there. Not only are the people friendly, the food is great, the views are amazing, but you do not feel like a tourist. There are many tourists around, but if you just wander around and find those off the path hole in the wall restaurants, you can learn so much about a culture. I truly had an incredible time and already want to go back, there is just so much to see and do there!
By: Brooke Stuart | Image: Credit to Brooke Stuart