One “Bom Dia” in Portugal

On our most recent API excursion we travelled to Lisbon, Portugal. This was only the second country I have ever been to outside of the United States and it was filled with discovery and new experiences. After seven or so hours of travelling, the bus erupted in cheers when we pulled up to a familiar place: a Holiday Inn. Our first day was spent taking in the main sights of Lisbon and getting a feel for the city. We learned how to say good day (bomb dia) and thank you (obregado) in Portuguese, but thankfully many of the locals spoke English. Every monument, cathedral, and building was reminiscent of Portugal’s gloried history as a naval superpower. Sailors and fish adorned every doorframe, and there was even a monument shaped like a sailboat that appeared to be disembarking into the bay.

Our second day in Portugal we decided to travel outside the city to the town of Sintra. We went on the suggestion of my friend’s host mom, and Sintra certainly did not disappoint. We took a metro, changing lines twice, and then took a forty minute train in order to get there. After arriving, we had to hire a driver to take us up the mountain; all of that travelling was a lesson in and of itself- a test of our patience and self-sufficiency. The views that awaited us, however, were well worth all the trouble. Sintra is a beautiful town located on the outskirts of Lisbon and has attracted the wealthiest of Portugal for centuries. As you ascend the mountain, the sights only get better and better. We saw a cork merchant’s modern day mansion, a medieval Moorish castle, and finally a royal’s multicolored palace. Standing on the moss-covered stone walls of the Moorish castle or the bright red terrace of the royals’ summer getaway, you can almost see the Atlantic Ocean, at the westernmost point of Europe that was once believed to be the end of the world.

After enjoying some of the most breathtaking views of Portugal, we journeyed back to Sevilla. As much as I had enjoyed Portugal, returning to Sevilla was one of the best parts of the whole experience. The reason my arrival was so gratifying? When I stepped off the bus I immediately thought, “It’s good to be home.” Somewhere along the way, my beautiful host city has become my Spanish home; I just had to leave the country to take notice.

Laura McCarty is a student at the University of Alabama and an official API Student Blogger. Laura is studying abroad with API in Seville, Spain.

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