Lisbon & Sintra, Portugal

Lisbon was one of my favorite cities of the semester, and the few days I had there were a great mix of adventure and relaxation…

Day 1

When Daniella and I arrived to the Lisbon airport (after our Barcelona weekend) we grabbed snacks, including my first custard tart of the trip. Delicious! We charged our phones as we watched old music videos on the big screen of the cafe. Eventually, we figured out how Lisbon’s public transport works and ventured out into the city.

It didn’t take too long to get to our hostel, and the metro system seemed pretty low-key and simple compared to that of Paris. We checked into our hostel, Home Hostel Lisbon (much cleaner and quieter than Barcelona! Yay!) and the woman at reception gave us some recommendations for dinner.

Daniella and I were staying in Rossio, so we made the short walk to another neighborhood, Baixa, and found the restaurant. It was a delicious and filling steak and potatoes combo, just what we needed to fuel the rest of the trip. The best part? Super cheap! We took the long way back home and stopped at a number of stores, just exploring the area and brainstorming what we would check out the next day.

Day 2

We woke up the next day ready to go! Brunch at a place next to our hostel, then off to the train station so we could get to Sintra, a small town that is packed with UNESCO World Heritage sites. Once we made it there, we stopped at the train station and looked for information about where to go and how to get around, and I heard a sarcastic, “Oh my gosh, do you go to Tulane??” approaching me. One of the girls in my sorority, who I knew but have never had more than a couple short conversations with, just happened to be in the same place at the same time – in a small town in a foreign country, where neither of us were studying abroad. Crazy how small this world really is. Daniella and I spend the day with Mia and her friend from home; we visited the Castle of the Moors, then Pena Palace. The Castle of the Moors was more of an old fortress you could wander around, with an incredible view, and Pena Palace was a bright and colorful building that was really fun to explore. Both were incredible; I couldn’t believe how crucial these beautiful sites once were to the country and history in general. There were many more palaces, chalets, etc. to check out in the area, but we had already gone through most of the day, so we all headed back to the main Lisbon area and got tacos. Daniella and I then took an uber to see the Belem tower (which had already closed but was cool to see), and I introduced her to the egg custard tarts (even more important!). We were pretty shocked by how cold it was, as the weather had been sunny and beautiful as we were walking around earlier that day, so we called it a night and went ahead back to Baixa to regroup. Our hostel’s electricity was out, which gave us an excuse to not sit around and watch netflix and keep exploring the area. We walked all around for a couple hours, stopping in more stores and bakeries (one last tart!). Eventually, when we got back, the electricity was back on and we had a restful night before heading back to Paris (after stopping at our new favorite brunch place, that is).

Though we definitely did not get to see every major tourist attraction in Lisbon, this was still one of my favorite trips. I got to hang out in a cool but not crazy-busy city, I had plenty of time at two amazing sites, and I even got to catch up with a fellow Tulanian after a busy semester abroad. Travel doesn’t have to be stressful and busy; sometimes, it’s better to feel it out and go with the flow. Eat good food, window shop, explore, and get to know the people around you. Plus, now I have things to do when I go back!

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