The Colors of Portugal

The bright and vibrant colors of Portugal make it the perfect summer travel destination. Patterned tiles cover the buildings lining the narrow city streets, making every walk an experience.

Colorful Alfama buildings

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Alfama, Portugal

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Lisbon, Portugal- What to See, Eat, Do

This past weekend I headed to Lisbon, Portugal for my first weekend trip of my study abroad adventure. Portugal wasn’t even a place I considered visiting until my friend asked me if I wanted to join him. I can definitely say I am happy that I said yes and had the opportunity to experience such a beautiful city.

Lisbon is a city that is best seen by wandering the streets aimlessly. My friends and I had no specific plans but to walk around and take in whatever sights we could find.

To See…

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The Jerónimos Monastery happened to be only a 15 minute walk from the Airbnb we were staying in. It took my breathe away the moment I saw it. The details of the carvings of the stone are something a picture cannot even capture. The construction began in 1501 and was completed in 1601. The beauty is priceless, both literally and figuratively, making it a must-see!

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We decided to walk up a bunch of tiny alleyways in Aflama which somehow led us to this gorgeous view. From here you could see the entire city, including the 25 de Abril Bridge. Did you know this bridge was built by the American Bridge Company, the same company who built the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (hint the resemblance)? Explore the city streets and let them lead you to magical spots like this one.

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To Eat…

Portugal is known for their traditional pastry called the pastel de nada, a creamy custard egg tart. They are traditionally eaten in the mornings with coffee, and that is just what we did. Every morning of the trip, actually. I recommend Pastéis de Belém, a pastry shop with an endless selection of sweets and a buzzing environment.

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Being a seafood connoisseur, of course I was most excited to try the fish of Portugal, specifically the ceviché. Ever since I went to Puerto Rico I have not been able to find ceviché that compares to theirs. While Portugal’s still comes in second, it was nearly as delicious. I recommend trying the grouper ceviché and prawn tapas at Mesón Andaluz, a hidden gem just off the popular pink street. One of the things I loved most about Lisbon was the incredibly generous, kind people. You definitely don’t find those in London or New York City! The manager of the restaurant was making jokes and slipping me free food. How could I not love this place?

Portugal octopus ceviche

While I usually head to a certain restaurant for its trendy atmosphere, there was something special about eating in the quaint restaurants owned by the local people. The food was authentic and never disappointed. You can find many cafés with outdoor seating along the streets of Alfama, all with spectacular views of the colorful buildings and city streets.

To Do…

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After realizing a tuk tuk was the same price as an Uber, we quickly embarked on an adventure in one driven by a local, from Belém to Alfama. The fresh air in our faces was liberating and the experience was like no other. Our driver was extremely friendly and told us all the best places to see.

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Lesson learned: say yes to everything. Well, almost everything. Say yes to life, say yes to exploring, say yes to new cities. Life has a funny way of working itself out. I am sure glad I said yes to Portugal.

A New Year, A New Adventure

2017 is just a few hours away and with this new year comes the new year’s resolutions. Have you decided yet what you are striving for once the year turns? Many people make it their goal to exercise, eat healthy, or maybe read a few more books, but a new year is about so much more than just these minuscule goals. Yes, miniscule. In the grand scheme of life are these things the secret to your happiness? Definitely not.

In the middle of January I am leaving the United States in order to study abroad for five months across the Atlantic Ocean, in London. As the day of my departure comes closer and closer, my parents and friends keep asking me why I have to leave. Of course my parents thought I was crazy when I said this, but I told them it was because I was getting too comfortable here.

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I am someone that needs to be constantly challenged or I get bored and fall into a “funk”. In the last few months I have been experiencing this funk greatly. While I was happy, I knew I needed a change and I to push myself outside of my own limitations. What better way to do this than to move to a new country where you know nothing about the culture or the people?

There is something so frightening yet so exciting about living an entirely different life for a few months. I am ready to meet new people, explore new cities, and experience the discomfort of something entirely new. When is the last time that you went into something blind and alone? These leaps of faith are the ones that help us to learn the most about ourselves and grow into the person we want to be. It gives us a sense of clarity about what we love, appreciate, and want in the future.

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If you have the feeling of extreme comfort in your life, go out and destroy that feeling. Move somewhere new, take a trip alone, or do something that scares you. You will never know what you can learn about yourself until you try. Nobody progresses anywhere by being comfortable in life. So make 2017 a year of growth and happiness, not by losing weight or earning an A in one of your classes, but by going outside and experiencing life.

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