Spring Break in Spain and Portugal

It took me a while to decide what I wanted to write about for my spring break post (it was actually weeks ago). I had a wonderful time filled with amazing adventures, but I don’t want to bore you or brag too much.  What I think I got out the most from this trip was realizing that there is a big difference between vacationing and travelling.  Although I was gone for over a week, my spring break was not a vacation. It was a week filled with travelling, learning, and overcoming obstacles.  You travel to get something out of a new place and new experiences, not to relax or have fun.

With that said, spring break was actually one of the most fun weeks of my life. I’m so happy with my decision of locations. I decided to spend half of my time in Barcelona and the other half in Lisbon.  (Yes, this was my second time in Barcelona this semester). I went to Barcelona again for a couple of reasons but I do not regret going to the same place twice. Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in Europe so far and I am so lucky that I got to visit twice and was able to see the things I did not see the last time. I’m also glad we chose only two countries to travel to, more than that I think it would have felt too rushed.  We got to do everything we wanted to do in each city and we even had time to venture outside the cities.  There were times were we were able to just sit somewhere, take in the sights, and not have to worry about rushing to the next thing and that was really great.

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In Barcelona I was able to see La Sagrada Familia in the daytime, climb another mountain with an amazing view (we took the tram up this time), visit the Picasso Museum, and drink absinthe for the first time. One of my favorite days was a relaxing visit to a beach right outside Barcelona. It was very quiet, because it is not usually a tourist spot, especially in the winter months. It was so beautiful and relaxing to just sit on the beach for hours and drink some sangria. Later we ended up finding a restaurant that had THE BEST gnocchi I’ve ever had in my life (it had cheese in the middle). The customers in the restaurant were giving us looks like “why are there americans here?”. I think that restaurant was one of the best finds in the trip along with the tapas restaurant in Barcelona that might have been the best dinner I’ve had in Europe so far.

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Our first day in Lisbon was an interesting one. I woke up the first morning saying “so what should we do today?”. I had no idea what there was in Lisbon to do or see, due to poor planning on my part.  I think this was great though, I went into Lisbon not knowing what to expect and it was a real learning experience for me.  I didn’t even know a word of the language when I got there, and now I can say that I know a little about Portuguese culture. That first day we just wandered around and eventually found a map somewhere and we were able to find the Castle of St. Jorge and other cool things in the city. Throughout the week I was pleasantly surprised about how beautiful the city is and the beaches near Lisbon.  I learned a little about Portuguese cuisine and how they are really into canned fish, and also got to experience the traditional pastry at the best pastry shop in Lisbon. Along with food, we also really got into their alcohol.  The Vinho Verde is a Portugese wine that is so amazing and refreshing, I couldn’t get enough! Also the port wine from Porto is delicious.  We also took shots of ginja (cherry liquor) out of chocolate cups, which is apparently very traditional in Portugal.

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What made my trip as great as it was though, was the people who I traveled with. It is always important to travel with people who you connect with, trust, and are always on the same page with.  We always wanted to do the same things and we never argued. They woke me up and got me going in the morning and because of them I had the best experience I could have had this spring break. After this trip I feel like we are becoming experts of traveling and i’m so exciting for the few trips I have left this semester. This trip made me realize that I need to get out and experience London more and do as much as I can do while I’m here.  I only have a short amount of time left and I need to take advantage of what I have here.  After reading what I wrote I may have ened up bragging a little but can you blame me?

 

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