28 June 2013
Ana is a doll. She makes meals for us whenever we are home, and when I say meal I mean MEAL. As Dr. Hoffmire would say, at Ana’s we DINE. Everything she makes us is very healthy, and I am so grateful for it. Ana knows that Kailey’s family is very healthy and so she made sure to make us meals that are full of fruits and vegetables.
It is crazy how things can change in the blink of an eye. One day you think you are doing one thing and the next day your plans have completely changed. It is interesting to take a step back from your life and see how it has been molded and shaped over time. I can see how one event has led to another and another and another to bring me to where I am now. If it is meant to be, things just work out. For example, by deciding to take one recording studio class fall semester of last year I met the person who introduced me to studying at Cambridge. That recording studio class was just for fun, I did not need it to fulfill any GE or Prerequisite. Cambridge led to Oxford, and both gave me the opportunity to go early and backpack Europe. Who knows where I will end up after this summer. Life sure is an adventure.
Kailey was so sweet, yesterday she had bought extra pastels de Belem for us to all eat for breakfast this morning. Even cold, the pastries were delicious. I have been lucky to travel with such incredible girls. Pastels de Belem are one of the famous foods here in Portugal.
This morning we were able to visit ISCTE, a very good business school that is located in downtown Lisbon. Over the years they have been in the network with BYU, getting a few of our students to study at their school for a semester or two. As I was looking for international opportunities this past year (as I always am), I discovered through the business school at BYU, these programs to study at business schools across the country. BYU has connections with 6 different schools in areas such as Hong Kong, Peru, Brazil, Germany, France, and Portugal. At one point or another I wanted to each of the schools but I didn’t really know when I could fit it into my schedule or how it would work out. BYU makes the opportunity very tangible by requiring only BYU tuition, and a small $30 exchange program fee. Of course you have to take care of all your flight as well as all your transportation, housing, and food while you are there. Being in Lisbon and of course being the the curious girl that I am, I wanted to go visit the Business School and see what is was like, who went there, what programs they offered, etc… We stopped at the campus on our way to the Oriente Station where we would board our train to Porto. The Campus is about a 15 minute train ride from Ana’s home and it is located in the downtown business area of Lisbon. I was very impressed with the school and the people I met there were very nice.
I think because people sacrificed so much to help us yesterday, Karma said that it is our time to sacrifice today. Trying to get from Lisboa Oriente to Porto was a real challenge. First we got on the wrong train, and after waiting two hours and paying a 4 euro penalty fee we missed our second train. After our second incident and paying another 6 euro penalty fee, the ticket man was quite frustrated with us and he walked us straight to our platform and watched us get on the train to make sure that we would not get on the wrong one or miss it again. As we boarded he said, “Se faz favor nao ficam aqui”, which means “please don’t stay here”. He was really intent on us leaving his station, probably so that we wouldn’t bother him anymore. Although the train situation was frustrating and we ended up getting to Porto a lot later than we expected. We were still blessed with many blessings in disguise. Our friend Carson and his buddy Andy were coming up from their internship in Southern Portugal to work in Porto, and they ended up getting on the same train as us. Had we made any of the first two days we would not of been on the same train as them.
Porto is beautiful. I had gathered numbers from the Porto stakes, family history center, and CES institute and gave them to Kailey so she could call as we were on the train. After calling the third number a nice man named Xavier picked up at the CES institute and ended up offering to pick us up at the train station, take us around, and let us stay in his home. When we arrived at the train station he was there to pick all 5 of us up and took us around the city for the next hour or so. He took us to the iconic image of Porto, Ribeira. This is a beautiful harbor spanned by a bridge that was built by the same man who built the Eiffel Tower, and lined with cute shops and restaurants on its water’s edge. Porto is a city that looks as if it was built on top of itself. Its buildings are beautiful, colorful, and old. After we had drove around for a while, Xavier left us in the city center when it was time for him to go back and teach institute, offered to keep our bags, and invited us to the church later that evening to eat dinner with the youth. Can you believe the miracles that have happened in my life?
As we walked around Porto for the rest of the evening we saw many beautiful sights. We went into the tall church tower where you could view the entire city from above. It was absolutely stunning. After that view I decided that Porto was one of my favorite cities, definitely in my top five. Second only to Budapest in my opinion, Porto is one of the most unique cities I have visited. It’s culture is incredible and it has a very charming feel about it.
We also visited one of the most beautiful bookstores I have ever been to..and guess what? I purchased a book! Well not exactly a book, but a Portuguese to English translation guide that is small enough to fit in my purse and carry around with me everywhere I go. It makes me excited when I hear people speak words that I know…
The unique thing about Porto is that there are beautiful mosaic tiles everywhere. They line the outside of the buildings, churches, and walkways. Intermingled with the narrow streets and trendy shops, Porto is a remarkable place to visit. It is incredible to see so many beautiful sights so closely compacted together. As I explored Porto I felt as if I were in the city version of the narrows at Zion’s national park. With mile upon mile of cobblestones snaking around the city and buildings across the streets so close you could touch both if your hands were stretched out you feel as if you are in a movie. The streets are narrow. The buildings are colorful. The city is rustic. Real beauty is found here. Portugal has been such an incredible journey.