This month really has flown by! I am only 6 weeks away from the end of my year abroad which is the strangest feeling. Recently all of my weekends have been spent traveling around Portugal and seeing new places. I realised that I needed to make the most of my time here because when I was in Spain I barely had anytime to travel, so I am doing it here instead. So, here’s a little recap of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen…
Firstly, a group of us went to Coimbra which is a very historic, traditional Portuguese town between Porto and Lisbon. A note to anyone who wants to visit: take sensible shoes because it is one of the hilliest places I’ve ever visited! The main attraction is the University of Coimbra which is one of the oldest in the world, founded in 1290, so there is plenty to see. In particular, there’s the Biblioteca Joanina, named after King João V which is magnificent! Anyone who knows me knows how much I love books and this was just incredible to witness. However, pictures aren’t allowed so if you want to see it, you’ll have to go yourself!
A special thanks to my friends’ friend, Rebekah for hosting us here!
The weekend after Coimbra we took two day trips. First, we went to Aveiro (just south of Porto) for the afternoon. This is a quaint little place known as the Little Venice of Portugal due to its canal network running through the town. Like Coimbra, there isn’t a huge amount to do here, but we wandered around, took many pictures of the azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles on buildings) and strolled down the canal.
The following day we got up very early to take a trip back to Spain! We visited a city just over the Spain-Portugal border called Vigo. It was a little rainy when we first arrived so we didn’t know how we could fill the day but the sun quickly came out and so we spent the day walking around the city. It is on the coast and there are beautiful views of the Cíés Islands with their gorgeous, sandy beaches. We (obviously) went to El Corte Ingles to soak up the Spanish-ness, and we took full advantage of the fro-yo shop we found with a view over the harbour! It was a very long but a lovely day with great company!
Now for the exciting part! Last week was Queima das Fitas in Porto which is an academic week where the final years celebrate their approaching graduation. This is basically a week of parades and parties, so a few of us decided to go on holiday! We spent half the week exploring Lisbon and the other half in Lagos. Lisbon is the most beautiful city and it is full of history which makes it super interesting (especially when you spend the week with a tour guide – thanks Lexi!). We were very lucky to have fabulous, sunny weather as this always makes a place look and feel better! One of the days there we went to Cascais (the posh part of Lisbon) where I got to meet up with Susannah! This was lovely as we haven’t seen each other since leaving Valencia which feels like an awfully long time ago! We went to the beach and despite putting copious amounts of sun cream on, I still burnt! Once an English rose, always an English rose…
After Lisbon we travelled south to Lagos which is in the Algarve. This half of the week was much wetter and colder but we still managed to have a great time! We did a lot of walking around the town and along the many beaches (despite the rain!) and finished each night with some vinho verde (because, why not?). Personally the best part of this trip was when we went to Ponta da Piedade which is a coastal zone with lots of breath-taking rock formations (see pictures). This day was probably the most tiring but so worth it for the view; I’d definitely recommend it to anyone going to the Algarve.
I’m back in Porto now, but not for long as this weekend I’m finally going to Madrid to catch up with some of my friends from school which is going to be wonderful!
I hope this hasn’t been too dull to read – I know that seeing someone else’s holiday snaps is never exciting – but I can’t stress enough how beautiful Portugal is! Special thanks to Sophie and Paul for making it a fabulous month!