Portugal!!Salamanca, Spring 2011

This past weekend, IES took us on our big trip to PORTUGAL! Salamanca is so so close to Portugal (we´re neighbors!), but it was my first time there. It was a marathon of a trip; we hit up six different cities in one weekend: Coimbra, Batalha, Lisboa, Sintra, Cascais, and Fátima. I´m terrible...all I ever remember are bits and pieces of the places and buildings we visit, but I could not tell you which city they were in. Sorry... But that´s why I need to take a lot of pictures. For the purpose of writing this post, I´m going to cheat and look at the itinerary that IES gave us. Day 1 (Friday): Absolutely stunning day (trust me to remember the weather and not the geography).  Left at 8am (yuck) from Salamanca and made it to Coimbra by about 11. We had a nice little bus tour of the city, during which we hopped off to see a convent, an old university library (there were bats in it!! Sleeping though, don´t worry), and a cathedral.  It´s funny that I can say all of this completely nonchalantly, as if such pretty sights are everyday occurrences. But they are!! By now, we´re just like oooh ok here´s another stunning piece of architecture. Same old same old. Possibly my favorite part of the day was free time, during which we ate the lunches prepared by our señoras (mine gave me a bocadillo roughly the size of my abdomen, not to mention the fruit and whole, big bag of chips), and sat outside in the super hot weather in a gorgeous park.  Could not have gotten any better. After lunch we stopped in Batalha to see a monastery quickly (once again, please note how casually I mention this), then continued on our way to Lisboa. In Lisboa, we had quite possibly the meatiest dinner ever, during which the waiters brought over big spears of meat and sliced them directly onto our plates. Yum. Day 2 (Saturday): Breakfast in the hotel - bright and early. But delicious. The day was a little overcast but, thankfully, didn´t rain while we were outside. First stop: Sintra. This city was, generally, a favorite of the group.  We went on a quick tour of a Palace (just a summer home, no big deal), which was gorgeous with it´s tiling. After that, I think that this was the point where I went with a friend and had ice cream in a garden that we discovered. I´m pretty sure it was Eden. Next up was my favorite part of the day: Boca do Inferno. Which, more or less, means the ¨Hell's Mouth¨. Well, now it just sounds strange that I liked it so much. But it was gorgeous. It´s the westernmost point, which means the Atlantic!!! I had never seen the Atlantic from this side, before! It was dreamy. The water is so fierce there, crashing onto the rocks and creating the imagery where the name comes from. I felt like I was in a movie where a man with a kind face and a top-hat was going to sweep down from the cliffs and speak with a British accent to me. Not the usual, sadly. After some photo shoots in front of the raging water aka beautiful, romantic background, we jumped back on the bus and zooom off to Lisboa. In Lisboa, we saw yet another monastery and tower on the water before heading back to the hotel. Quick nap in hotel. Dinner out with some friends in a convent-turned-oldest-brewery-in-Portugal. Delicious! Loved the nightlife in Lisbon. Day 3 (Sunday): Departure time: 10:30. Not bad at all. Last stop of the day / trip: Fátima. Where the Virgin appeared to three children multiple times. It was incredible for me to see a place that I've heard about, and to see the pious peoples praying. Definitely stood out in my mind. Sunday night, after sleeping in the bus nonstop, we made it back to Salamanca. It was a magical, super busy weekend. Now you'll have to excuse me...I'm heading outside to sunbathe a bit before class :)
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