Two weekends ago, I went with ISA (my program) to Lisbon, Portugal. When I found out that I would be studying in Salamanca, one of the things I was most excited about was how close it was to Portugal. I thought it would be a great opportunity to experience both another city and culture.
Portugal and Spain have been one country on and off, and they have a lot in common. It definitely was a bit different though. One thing I noticed in particular was that the Portuguese are much more outwardly friendly/pushy to everyone; people were always trying to sell you things as you walked down the street, or talking to you. Here in Spain, people are kind, but not necessarily to strangers – you have to get to know someone. The other major difference was the language factor, Portuguese is quite different from Spanish. Having traveled in September meant that not speaking the language wasn’t too different for me though.
Lisbon is a beautiful city. On the first afternoon, we went on a tour of the San Jorge Castle. It was a lot of fun running all around taking pictures and stuff. When I’m in medieval castles like that, I can’t help imagining what it would’ve been like in the Middle Ages when people actually lived there. It’s up on the top of a mountain, and so you could see the city of Lisbon, which was quite cool. That evening, I walked around near our hotel with a bunch of friends.
On Saturday, we went to the other main sights in Lisbon – the Monastery of Los Jeronimos, as well as the Tower of Belem. The tower of Belem was lots of fun to see, as you had to walk over a bridge in the ocean/river to get to it. In the afternoon, I was able to go to one of the markets that they have in Portugal. It was essentially an antique/flea market, in which people set up tables and sold random things. It was really cool to walk up and down looking at the “junk”, I wanted lots of it, but as I couldn’t figure out what I’d do with any of it, didn’t buy anything.
On Sunday, we headed back to Salamanca via a beautiful walled town called Obidos, as well as a monastery in Batalha. Obidos was absolutely beautiful. I love walled towns – they are absolutely beautiful, and almost seems stuck in time which is always cool. One of my favorite activities is walking around the top of the wall, which I luckily got to do in Obidos. The weather was perfect – 80’s – and I wished we could’ve stayed much longer. The Monastery in Batlha, was cool, but at this point I have about reached my limit of churches and monasteries, so I didn’t find it too extraordinary or exciting. I would’ve preferred to skip it and spend more time in Obidos, but that’s the hazard of traveling with a group I suppose.
Overall, it was a great weekend! (Also – photos of Madrid, Toledo and Barcelona are up, Portugal to come soon.)