Why do we travel? Whether it is to get away from routine, learn something new, get better weather, get out your comfort zone or simply just because, just go and see the world. I personally travel to learn a little bit more about other cultures and their way of living; it gives me this sense that all of us somehow have and will always have something in common despite our differences. Traveling has given me a larger hope in people; there are good people everywhere you go and you have to trust that.
This time I went to Ireland and Portugal; I know weird combination. At times it felt like we spent more time in the airport than in the actual cities we visited but it was ultimately worth it. I traveled with three of my friends/sorority sisters.
At first, I didn’t care much about Ireland as I thought it was just another European country with a metropolitan city with one too many McDonald’s, pubs and known for its Guinness beer and Irish Whiskey. To my pleasant surprise, Ireland was more than that, their people were some of the warmest people I’ve encountered.
Dublin was diverse, I kept hearing multiple languages spoken everywhere and it’s a very young city since Ireland has one of the youngest populations in the world. I also realized how open they are which can be observed by their openly gay prime minister who has an Indian background and is only 40 years old. Talk about progression here.
We got to go on a day trip to see the Cliffs of Moher and a quick stop for lunch in Galway. We enjoyed ourselves and for 45 euros I couldn’t complain. We visited the Jameson Distillery and although it doesn’t function as an actual distillery, it was worth learning a little of the history behind our favorite whiskey.
Although I don’t practice Catholicism, I was raised as one and I had a good time checking out Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Make sure you take your college ID for discounts–I consider myself one until all the loans are paid-off in full.
Overall, Ireland is a country I can come back to, hopefully when it’s warmer. I would skip the Temple bar area, as it’s too touristic and pricey. You should walk the strip but the bars didn’t impress me, you are better off buying a bottle and hanging out. Do explore the country side and see the beautiful green scenery.
Lisbon was colorful, vibrant and full of street art everywhere you went. It’s known for its 7 hills (although later I read it’s actually 8 hills) is built on, don’t forget to pack your most comfy shoes to walk those beautiful cobbled streets.
At our first restaurant stop, we tried a Francesinha, a typical dish of Porto, it has two layers of bread, steak, sausage, ham, cheese, egg and tomato and beer sauce all over it. Let’s just say we regretted choosing that restaurant as our first Portuguese cuisine experience. As polite and well raised Latinas, we tried to eat as much as we could and told our server we were satisfied. Their pastelerias (pastries), however were amazing, pastel be nata did the job. They are known for their bacalao or bacalhau (salted cod fish) and other seafood too. A local told us they know 1000 ways to cook their bacalhau.
We did a private tour to Sintra, a town 30 minutes away from Lisbon. I believe our tour also included visiting Cascais but three of us passed out in the back seat–another excuse to go back. We got to see the Moors Castle, Pena Palace and the National Palace. The views were gorgeous. We also enjoyed Ginja and chocolate, a cherry alcoholic drink served in shot like glasses made out of chocolate. Porto wine was also a nice touch, paired up nice with our steak and eggs.
We got to see the Belém Tower, Padrão dos Descobrimentos Monument and my first Caipirinha (Brazilian national cocktail). We also got to see the most western point of Europe at Cabo Da Roca and drove along the Portuguese Riviera by the coast of Cascais.
We stayed at Barrio Alto and partied a bit one night. Drinks were cheap, probably watered down but the vibes were good along with great Portuguese reggaeton (not sure if that’s the genre but it was great).
Group trips are awesome if you have the right people. Hotels and taxis were split by four of us which made our trip much more affordable. Make sure to use MyTaxi app when traveling in Ireland since it’s cheaper than Uber. Also ask the driver to send you their code for 10 euros off.
Traveling recharges the mind and soul and while we tend to go for our personal gratification, it is important to have an exchange, to leave a little behind also so others can learn about you and your culture. Hasta pronto.