Wednesday, March 3, 2010


So we had a 4 day weekend for Andalucia day so we decided to travel to that other country in the Peninsula that none of the Spanards really seem to care about: Portugal! It was once one of the richest kingdoms in all of Europe and now is basically riding on the back of Spain into the EU and is dealing with the same economic problems as the rest of the world. BUT they have really amazing old buildings, cathedrals, and castles, and of course they had amazing food, pastries, and wine.

We were lucky to get really cheap flights from Madrid to Lisbon however that meant we had to GET to Madrid. When a group of us went to buy our bus tickets, we found that the bus was sold out. So half of our group was on the bus and another group of us took the train. We arrived in Madrid and hopped on our plane to Lisbon! We stayed at this really neat hostel ( that had a big common area with a Wii and movies and free breakfast! They also had a free laundry service where we could give them our clothes and they were ready in the morning! I would definitely recommend it if you are going to be in the area.

The first day we went to a town in the hills called Sintra. We had to take a train there and then we hopped on a bus that took us to the different castles around Sintra. The first was the Moorish castle which was very Lord of the Rings and Robin Hood. It was fun because you could really get a sense of what the castle felt like when it was in it's heyday. Then the Palacio do Pena which was fantastic. Although it was raining and slightly miserable, the palace looked like it was straight out of a disney movie. I'm pretty sure they even had Cinderella's clock tower. After we toured the castles we got a bocadillo, went back to the Hostel for siesta then went to experience some of Lisbon's nightlife.

Day 2: We decided that going somewhere on a train was so much fun, let's do it again! This time we took a train along the coast and went to Cascais. Although none of us could pronounce this town's name correctly the entire time we were there, I think we have it figured out now. This is a smallish beach town that is really popular in the summer for surfing and windsurfing. However it is not summer. It was really rainy and windy and the waves were huge! It was really cool to see them but I wouldn't want to go anywhere near the water! We also had a delicious meal here and some coffee and pastries when we wanted to escape the wind. I'm pretty sure we saw Prince Erik's castle from the Little Mermaid in this town. (side note, I also bought a really cute pair of boots here for only 5 Euro! It kind of made the wind and rain worthwhile) We returned to Lisbon for siesta and went to a sushi restaurant for dinner which was pretty weird and then we did the typical american thing and went to Hard Rock Cafe for a drink.

Day 3: We went to a couple of museums in the morning because they are free on Sundays. So first it was the Contemporary art museum which was weird and just videos of nothing. And then we went to a design and fashion museum which was really cool and had exhibits on furniture and clothes of the 60's and 70's. (Mom, you would've dug it. It was like, so totally groovy) Then we hopped on a train to Belem. This is the place where Magellan and Prince Henry the Navigator set sail from and there is also a really cool Monastery there. They are also famous for creating the most famous pastry in Portugal (Pastels do Belem or Nata) so of course, we had to visit the site and sample, and I have to say, they are quite delicious. Then we returned for siesta (of course). That night we went out in search of a Fado bar. Fado is traditional Portuguese folk music. There are a lot of really touristy Fado bars so we had to search for one that we didn't have to pay a mountain to even get into. What we found was perfect and we enjoyed a night of beautiful music and Port wine and we even had some flaming sausage.

Day 4: We decided to wander around Lisbon and do all the stuff that we hadn't been able to do any of the other days. We started out at the Castle at the top of the hill. It was so beautiful. It gave us a 360 degree view of Lisbon, and it was finally sunny!!! I was so excited to not have to wear my jacket anymore! From our hilltop vista we saw a couple of cool churches and ruins so we decided to go to them. After walking down the hill and up another and down that one and up another, we were exhausted and very glad to hop in a taxi and go to the airport. Once we got to Madrid we went to the bus station and got on a 1 am but that arrived in Cordoba at 6 am on tuesday morning. We all went home and then back to class at 9 am!

It was a very long and really fun weekend. I can't wait to go back to Lisbon!

Elevator to give you a lookout of Lisbon, the view from the Castle was much better however.
Random plaza
Foaming Fountain
Train to Sintra
Castle on a hilltop
Me being Cinderella on the steps of a building in Sintra
Lego Princess peering through her window
I like to think I'm Cinderella in this fairytale, but I fear I am actually the Giant. haha.
Park in Sintra
Cats that knew how to work the tourists for food. I was not a fan of them.
Perfect place for medieval feuds.
I think this is the mine of the 7 Dwarfs. Heighh hoooooo!
I am raising the roof!
Delicious food in Cascais.
Cinderella's clocktower at palacio do pena
Castle in the Sand
Prince Erik's Castle
Giant waves!

Portuguese Sushi.
Yeah America!
Downtown Lisbon.
Design and Fashion Museum.
Tomb of Vasco de Gama
Cloister in Belem

More CloisterMonastery from the Cloister
Prince Henry the Navigator
Golden Gate Bridge in Lisbon!
Searching for the New World.
Postale do Belem! Delicious!
Fado bar
Flaming Sausage
Castle on the hill.
View of Lisbon

Portuguese PeacockMore Ruins
Delicious pastry. It was a whole apple that was cored and a cinnamon stick was shoved through the middle. The whole thing was wrapped in pastry dough and then baked. It tasted like an apple pie. Sooo good!

That's about all of Lisbon. It was so beautiful. I would definitely recommend it for anyone in the area. Don't skip Portugal, it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited! Stay tuned for more travels in Spain!


We had a trip to Granada on Friday with our program and we went to the Alhambra (in the rain) and then had a huge buffet lunch that included Paella and ice cream! Then we were set loose in the city and we stayed for the weekend. The first night we went out and sampled the free tapas. The next day my friend Jackie and I met up with my friend Adrienne (from Federated Church) who is studying in Granada for the semester and we went to the Parque de las cincias and then an Arab Tea House. On Sunday we went to mass at the Grand Cathedral of Granada and got some delicious pastries for the bus ride back to Cordoba!

Here is a picture when we first got to the Alhambra in the mist and rain.

View from the Alhambra


Arches made to look like stalactites.

This was a room where you could talk into the wall on one side and the person on the other side could hear you as if it were through a speaker. It was weird and really cool.
Cool Gardens

Albert, Adrienne, Me at the Science Museum
My friend in Granada.
Birds of Prey
My profile. Apparently I have good posture.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains with a tower in front with giant ants crawling up it.
Federated Church in Granada!
Free Tapas!
Arab Quarter
Grand Cathedral
Really cool weathervane
More Alhambra