I love how in Europe there are tons of countries close to each other with completely different cultures. Because of this I was able to go on a mini getaway to Portugal this past weekend because I had a long weekend. I went with two friends, and I was a little nervous because I had only just met them two weeks ago, and traveling with people can be quite difficult. However, it turned out to be one of the best trips I have ever been on. We all got along so well, and were able to see much of Lisbon (where we stayed) as well as two other cities (Sintra and Cascais).
I was really excited to go because I had been curious as to what Portuguese from Portugal sounds like. Until this point I had only heard Brazilian Portuguese, which I can speak to an extent. When my friends and I first arrived we took a taxi to our hostel, and I spoke with the driver (in Portuguese) to ask what the best sites to visit are while we’re here. His accent was really hard for me to understand at first, but after a few days in Portugal I picked up on a lot of the pronunciation differences between Portuguese from Portugal versus Brazil. The taxi driver also noted how I spoke with a Brazilian accent which was such a huge complement because it meant my pronunciation was really good, and that I at least did not sound American. (Apparently I also speak Spanish with a Brazilian accent so I need to work on that).
Lisbon was my first hostel experience, and it was surprisingly quite nice. I would recommend staying in hostels because they tend to be quite affordable, and I was able to meet people from all over the world. Our hostel was also quite clean and provided inexpsneive and yummy breakfast (2 euros) and dinner (10 euros). One night for dinner at the hostel we ended up sitting with people from Buenos Aires so we were still able to practice our Spanish!
In Portugal I saw castles, graffiti, and the most beautiful sunsets over the sea! I also loved just walking through winding cobble streets and stopping at whatever cool little surprise greeted us. One of our walks led us to a painted man lip-synching the Beatles, one of my absolute favorite bands! Other walks took us to big squares with old architecture. One day while we were walking in the main square, near the water, many policemen and news reporters suddenly appeared, soon followed by a parade of men and women dressed in black, cloaky attire. We asked one woman what this was and she said they are all lawyers protesting because they feel that their rights are being violated. She said lawyers from all over Portugal came, and the reason they were dressed as they were was because they is what they would wear in court. It was really interesting to witness firsthand the political climate of another country.
I also of course had to try the famous Portuguese dessert: Pasteis de nata. These are little custard tarts made of phyllo dough, and were delicious.
I’ve been back in Oviedo for a few days now, and while I miss Portugal, it does feel good to be back. I’ve been spending more time speaking with my family, and reaching out to make Spanish friends, so hopefully I’ll start to notice improvements in my speaking abilities soon. Besides Semana Santa (spring break) I plan to only travel around Spain in the future because I really want to immerse in Spanish culture and become fluent in the language!