6 October 2013
Dear Mother and Father,
Two weeks in Portugal, you best be excited. Portugal is such a beautiful place, I am so so excited to be able to share it with you for the next several days. There is so much to do here in the Lisbon area, from the busy urban city to the rural hills covered with olive trees and grape vineyards, and of course there are beautiful beaches, lots of food, and so much to explore. I have put together a little teaser to get you excited to arrive and prepare you for everything that is going to take place over the next 14 days. Paradise is just around the corner and I cannot wait to show it to you!
p.s. I usually write in Portuguese, but I it would of taken me A REALLY LONG TIME to write this.
1. Minutes before you land, look out the window. See the white buildings beneath you, that is my school. ISCTE is a cultural rich and diverse university with people from all around the Europe and the world. It has been so fun to study business from a European perspective, and it has taught me that culture is one of the most cherished elements of peoples around the world. Now, I only want to experience more of that culture.
2. You are going to meet one of the nicest families you will ever know. Luis and Diana and their two daughters Rita and Margarita are incredible (the other two girls are their cousins). They have already taught me so much about Lisbon, Portugal, and the world. As a family, they have traveled ALL OVER THE WORLD, and their relationships with each other make me miss my own family each and every day. They have showed me all the opportunities that are out their to experience the world with those you love. As am I, they are so excited to see you in a couple days and show you everything that makes Portugal so great!
3. Do not be afraid when your food looks like this. It will taste absolutely incredible, trust me! Portugal is a coastal country and as a result they have some of THEE BEST seafood in the entire world. I have fallen in love with adventuresome eating and have found that I often like a lot of things that I never would of dreamed of liking. It only took a matter of days for me to fall in love with all the fish, shrimp, squid, cuttlefish, octopi, etc… Food is a HUGE part of the culture here. Be prepared to starting eating dinner at 10pm and finish at midnight. That is completely normal here, and you some of the best experiences you will have will be at the table.
4. Of course the beach is almost as important as the food here! The weather has gone from a week of straight rain to a forecast of clear 80 degree weather upon your arrival. Guess what that means? Lots of sun, and lots of beach days!
5. Luis and Diana know EVERYBODY and always seem to come up with incredible opportunities to do things that most people never get to do. Be prepared for anything… surfing, kite-surfing, para-sailing, kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, etc… It is going to be a giant FIESTA!
6. I live in a part of the Greater Lisbon Area called Palmela. It is a small city built on a hill surrounding an ancient castle. The house I live in is situated at the base of this hill surrounded by vineyards, orchards, traditional Portuguese homes, and a mere 10 minutes from the BEST coastal stretch of Portugal-The Coast of Arrabida! This is not the house where I live, but it will give you an idea of what the houses here look like. Luis and Diana’s home is more modern than most and is filled with things they have collected from all their journeys around the world…You are going to love it.
7. Pastels de Belem. One of the famous treats you must try while you are here. Belem is a very popular part of Lisbon with lots of historical sites to visit and beautiful architecture to see. Sintra, Cascais, Alfama, Barrio Alto, Baixa Chiado, Setubal, the coast of Caparica, and Sesembra are also a FEW of the places you will visit while you are here.
8. Porto is a beautiful city just a few hours north of Lisbon. Although it is so close, it is completely different than the city of Lisbon. As of late, I have planned to take a weekend excursion to Porto just to show you how diverse Portugal really is.
9. Just a few hours south of Lisbon is Lagos, a beautiful beach town that sits right next to the Mediterranean sea. When I first went to this beautiful place, I thought I was in Greece. All the buildings are whitewashed with red adobe roofs and yellow and blue decorations on their outside. It is absolutely gorgeous. Don’t be surprised if we hop on a bus for another weekend trip to this Portuguese gem!
10. The fresh markets along the coast are one of my favorite things about Portugal. Setubal is a beautiful port city just minutes away from Palmela that has a fresh fruit, vegetable, and fish market every day of the week… We will visit here more than a few times during your visit.
11. When we return from the market, we prepare a delicious meal of something delicious, such as this cuttlefish. Sometimes you just have to be brave and try things that you never dreamed of trying…and at least for me, they always end up good.
12. Setubal and Sesembra are two coastal cities on either side of the Coast of Arrabida, both so diverse and beautiful. Beautiful harbors full of boats, sandy beaches, traditional homes, urban industry, etc… You will experience it all–Portuguese style.
13. Torrados and Futebol are very important to the Portuguese culture– I am not sure if we can swing going to a futebol game, but maybe a bull fight? It would be quite the cultural experience (note-this is different than a bull run that I went to earlier this fall). Trained professionals ride horses around a stadium with long colorful darts that they try to stick between the shoulder blades of the torro, and then a group of crazy people come in and try to tackle it…fun!