Well this probably the last one of these I’ll be writing on my year abroad because I finish in 3 weeks! That isn’t to say I won’t continue writing as there are lots of exciting things coming up soon. For those of you that don’t know, I will be spending part of my summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as the Producer of Like Clockwork, an original musical. So if you’re around please feel free to come and see our talented cast!
I have so much to write about from the past month – life didn’t slow down after my many weekends of travelling around Portugal as after Lagos, I spent the next weekend in Madrid with two of my school friends, Laura and Sarah. I’d never been to Madrid so we did a quick tour around all the main attractions such as the beautiful Parque del Retiro, the Palace and many more! It was so lovely to catch up with them both, especially as we are all on our year abroad.
The following weekend was strangely quiet as it was the first one in nearly two months that I wasn’t travelling. However, after that my mum came to Porto! There were a few touristy things that I hadn’t done because I wanted to do them with her so I knew it was going to be a brilliant weekend. On the Saturday we spent most of the day down by the river in Ribeira and in Vila Nova de Gaia (the other side of the river). I wanted to take her on one of the port wine tours so we went to Sandeman’s. We also went on the cable cars which gave mum a fantastic view of the city, right the way to the sea. The best part of this trip was definitely the free port that we could get as part of the price, so we spent most of the afternoon drinking port (no complaints there!). While she was here I wanted to let her taste as much of Portugal/Porto’s gastronomy as possible so for lunch I let her try a francesinha which is a dish from Porto which I like to describe as a ‘heart attack on a plate’. Basically, it’s a sandwich filled with different meats and cheese, covered in a kind of beer/gravy sauce. It does sound awful but I promise, it is delicious (and makes cracking hangover food!). For tea we went to Pedro’s Frango (a Porto favourite) for the classic chicken and chips that the Portuguese love so much. Needless to say, she loved both of them so mission complete on my part!
The next day we went for brunch in town and mum tried a pastel de nata which is essentially a custard tart, just much better! Next, and most exciting for me, we went to the bookshop that inspired J.K Rowling, Livraria Lello. If you are ever in Porto I highly recommend taking a visit here because you really do feel the magic. It is a beautifully preserved library with the most incredible staircase and it only costs 3€ to enter (you get 3€ off anything you buy). Of course, when I was there I couldn’t resist visiting the Harry Potter section to buy the Tales of Beedle the Bard in Portuguese just to add to my collection! Following on from that we spent the afternoon in Casa da Música which is another place I hadn’t yet visited. Inside there are many different recital/performance halls which were all built perfectly to make the acoustics just right. Luckily, we were able to catch a few piano recitals from teenagers at music schools around Porto. The whole weekend with mum was so lovely, and I’m very glad she got to see where I’ve been living for the past 5 months!
This past week has been mainly revision as I have my end of semester exams. A lot of people have been asking why I’m studying even though I don’t have to do very well. I want to do well for myself. I want to see the results of being here for the semester because I do feel like my understanding of Portuguese and my writing has improved so I’d like something to show for that, just for my personal benefit (especially as my spoken Portuguese hasn’t improved at all!). Also, realistically, who wants to fail all their exams? I know a few other people that feel the same way, so this is for you guys!
Finally, today I’ve received some brilliant news that I have secured a part-time job for final year which is very exciting as it’s something that could lead somewhere after university! Before signing off, I want to use this platform to spread a very important message for ALL young people in the UK. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE register to vote in the EU Referendum by midnight tomorrow (7th June). This will affect all of us in the future so make sure you use your vote wisely. Even if you’re abroad you can apply for a postal vote, or a proxy! I wouldn’t have had the amazing year that I’ve had if the UK hadn’t been part of the EU so please please please vote!! I will be writing a blog on this specifically nearer the vote (23rd June) so keep your eyes peeled! Also, thank you for joining me on my travels and following my blog – I hope it hasn’t been too dull (like looking at someone else’s holiday pictures!).