Lisbon Landscapes

I know it’s been a while since I actually went to Lisbon, but hey, better late than never, right? Since breaking up my travel posts worked out so well for my Scotland trip, I plan to do the same with my Lisbon trip. Check out parts ONE and TWO!


Since I got such a positive response on the last photo post I did (landscapes in Scotland), I thought I would do another one! This one is focused on the landscapes and beautiful scenes in Lisbon. Enjoy! (And let me know which is your favorite, as I want to enter some of them in my school’s study abroad photo contest!)

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Lisbon was BEAUTIFUL (if you couldn’t tell), and if you have any questions about planning a trip to Portugal, let me know! I know a lot more than I did before this trip!


lydia. 

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Lisbon: We Walked HOW Far?

I know it’s been a while since I actually went to Lisbon, but hey, better late than never, right? Since breaking up my travel posts worked out so well for my Scotland trip, I plan to do the same with my Lisbon trip. Check out parts ONE and THREE!


Saturday in Lisbon was one for the books. To put it simply, Kelsey and I estimated we walked about ten miles that day alone. A lot of it being up and downhill. As someone recovering from the worst blisters in her entire life, it was difficult. But it was so, so worth it for the stuff we got to see.

We got up pretty early in the morning, to the free breakfast in our hostel. I don’t know what it is with this hostel, but they kept getting better and better. They had waffles, toast, cereal, coffee, panini’s, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, orange juice, tea, and literally so many other breakfast foods. This breakfast was probably better than any hotel breakfast I’d ever eaten. Not to mention the fact that they had nutella on the table for the waffles.

The hostel also offered a free walking tour at 10:30 every morning (seriously if you’re ever in Lisbon stay in this hostel I promise you they’re not paying me to say any of this I really believe it), so we decided to go on that. Even though it had begun to rain and that made the old cobblestone tiled streets even more slick, we thought it would be the best way to see the city.

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Turns out, it was. Our tour guide, Marco, was so great and very personable. Our first stop was literally to just chat and get to know each other. We had to introduce ourselves and give a hint as to what country we were from and everyone had to guess. I said “everyone’s afraid of our next president – even though we don’t know who it will be” and Kelsey said “we really love baseball.” There were probably four or five other Americans on the tour, so we quickly ran out of ideas as to what to say. Not to mention our accents really give us away.

We spent about three hours on the tour, walking around the main part of central Lisbon, trying not to slip on the wet ground and keep up with fast-walking Marco. He spouted off facts about his home country faster than I could talk about my hometown, and we ended our tour at a local flea market. As someone who lives about half an hour from the largest flea market in the Southeastern USA, and the largest indoor flea market in the USA (it’s the same one LOL), this flea market seemed like no big deal. But it was still a really cool market. I actually ended up getting three Christmas presents for people there. There were also huge booths that looked like mini garage sales. I’m not sure why, but that was really interesting to me.

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By the time we left the flea market and got some lunch, it was a few hours until sunset. We wanted to take a train to Belém to make it to Torre de Belém before the sun set. We had to go back to the hostel (I hadn’t brought my jacket with me and we had souvenirs we didn’t want to carry around). My feet were killing me, but I was excited to walk down by the riverside again and watch the sun set over the river.

By the time we made it to Torre de Belém I had to sit down. But the view was breathtaking and almost worth it. We even found a makeshift stand called “wine with a view,” and it is exactly what it sounds like. They sold wine right by the river so you could sit and enjoy a glass of wine as the sun went down. Which is exactly what I did. It really brought the whole evening together.

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How we felt after walking nearly three miles to get there.

We ended up back at TimeOut Market for dinner, and on our walk back, we began to hear really loud music. Assuming we had missed out on a party, we followed the noise to outside a Tezenis store, where a huge stage was set up and there were DJs on a balcony. Staying to see what all the ruckus was about, it turns out we found ourselves in the middle of Rita Ora’s launch of her lingerie line. She was performing a concert at the opening of this store, that she was partnered with, and Kelsey and I stumbled upon it at the exact moment that it was starting. What are the odds?

While I didn’t really know who Rita Ora was (until Kelsey explained to me she had contributed to a bunch of famous songs, including “Black Widow”), it was still really fun to join the crowd and cheer her on and she performed. Not only did we get the chance to see Rita Ora, but we got to hang out at a free concert that we managed to run into. It was so cool.

That night at the hostel was cocktail night, but I opted for a shower and to go to bed early. Once Kelsey and I had discussed exactly how much we think we had walked that day (boy I wish I had had a FitBit for Saturday in Lisbon), I was even more tired than I had previously been. Kelsey was FaceTiming a friend back home at 11:00PM, but I was asleep before she even got back to the room. We were both wiped out from our trek around the city that day.

Overall, Lisbon was a trip I will never forget. Even though I doubted initially if there was going to be anything to do in Lisbon, it was going to be worth it to get to see Kelsey alone. Lisbon was great, but getting to see Kelsey was better. I couldn’t have imagined a better trip with a better person. Only with Kelsey would we accidentally walk ten miles in one day, run into a Rita Ora concert, and plan our future houses based on the media room of the hostel (LOL). At first, it seemed like there wouldn’t be anything that cool to do in Lisbon, it was absolutely one of my favorite trips I’ve taken in my life.

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Thanks for a great weekend, Kels. See ya in December.


lydia.

Lisbon is for Reunions

I know it’s been a while since I actually went to Lisbon, but hey, better late than never, right? Since breaking up my travel posts worked out so well for my Scotland trip, I plan to do the same with my Lisbon trip. Check out parts TWO and THREE, up later this week!


Over the first weekend of November, I met up with one of my best friends from back at Wofford, who is spending her semester abroad in Granada, Spain: Kelsey! After a lot of confusion in planning our trip and even a change in weekend, we finally decided on Lisbon, Portugal as our destination.

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Kelsey and I posing at Miradouro de Santa Luiza!

I’m not gonna lie, when Kelsey first suggested Lisbon, I was like “really? Lisbon? What’s in Lisbon?” But boy was I wrong. Lisbon is absolutely gorgeous and is chock-full of history. Did you know it is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe? And it was completely destroyed in the 15th century by an earthquake, fire, and tsunami? Talk about an apocalypse. Lisbon was a part of the Roman empire, and is still home to some Roman ruins.

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But without a doubt, the best part about going to Lisbon was getting to see Kelsey. If you know me at all, you know that my friends are incredibly important to me. Being away from them for so long is slowly breaking me, but getting to see Kelsey, even if for a short period of time…it was so, so wonderful.

On Friday, I arrived in Lisbon, navigating my way from the airport to the hostel by myself (Kelsey had arrived before my flight even left London), and honestly – I was super proud of myself. First things first, we had to take a reunion selfie (after the ten minute hug I initiated). Then, after checking into the hostel (Good Morning Hostel – Lisbon, I would highly recommend this hostel if you ever go to Lisbon IT WAS AMAZING), we decided to adventure over to the TimeOut Market. It’s basically a huge food market and had everything we could ever imagine. But of course, these Americans had pizza.

It was getting close to sunset (thanks Daylight Savings Time) when we finished our late lunch, so we ventured uphill (for some reason, Lisbon is SUPER hilly) to Miradouro de Santa Luzia, which essentially means “viewing point.” It was gorgeous. We got some great pictures and were completely blown away by the views. For a while, I was under the impression that we were overlooking the ocean, but I later learned that it was just a river.

On our walk back, we stopped every few blocks to take pictures of the tiles on the facades of the buildings. That’s one thing I didn’t expect in Lisbon was the beauty of the architecture. Yes, they had Spanish-style buildings, but also they had the facades decorated with elaborate tiles. It’s something that really makes Lisbon unique, and something I really loved.

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While these are not the actual tiled walls, these are some tiles from former facades that were for sale at Feira la Ladra!

Our hostel (which is so amazing), had a free sangria night on Friday night, and we both took full advantage of that. We got the chance to meet some of the other people in our hostel (people from everywhere – USA, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Czech Republic, Mexico – all over), which I really loved. It was something that I feel like you don’t get the chance to do in most hostels, and even though I was super excited to be spending time with Kelsey, it was really cool to get the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.

Our final adventure for our first day in Lisbon was an attempt to locate a Tapas bar. Kelsey had been raving about how wonderful Tapas bars are in Granada (you can apparently get appetizers and a drink for like two euros). But that was not the case in Lisbon. It’s not Spain (obviously), so there weren’t many places that were like Spain. We did end up finding a really cool restaurant where we got food, but it took way too long for our liking. Kelsey had been up since 4:30AM and I had been up since 6:30AM. Neither of us wanted to wait very long for food, but Europe takes their sweet time in restaurants. Needless to say we were ready for bed when we finally made it back to the hostel.

More than anything though, I am glad that I took this trip because I wanted to see Kelsey. My friends are very important people to me and not being able to see them is really starting to get to me. Spending this time with Kelsey really helped make up for it. Kelsey is such an amazing person, completely genuine and tells it like it is. But she’s also kind and caring and the person you want to have around if something goes wrong, because she always keeps a level head. She is not judgmental and loves with her whole heart.

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I had been going through a small bout of homesickness the week before I went to Lisbon, and Kelsey cured that for me without a doubt. There is no one in the world I would rather adventure around Lisbon with, attempting to not completely wipe out on the slick tiled hills. It was a random adventure, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way with any other person.


lydia.

Liverpool: The Beatles, Cemeteries, and New Friends, Oh My!

dsc_0389The program that I’m in offers many day/overnight trips outside of London to allow us the chance to see more of the country, other than just London. Yesterday, one of the day trips was to Liverpool, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the birthplace of the greatest band of all time. The Beatles Story Museum was even included as part of the trip with the program. Needless to say, I was hooked.

The day started when my alarm went off at 6:15AM, waking my roommate and myself up for the first leg of our journey: getting to the train station by 7:45. After hitting snooze many more times than I probably should have, I finally dragged myself out of bed and even managed to put on makeup before we rushed out the door to grab some breakfast. I don’t know why IES decided to book us an 8AM train to Liverpool, but they did. Almost everyone on the trip slept on the two and a half train ride there, including myself. By the time we reached Liverpool, we were slightly more well-rested, our coffee had started to kick in, and we were ready to take on the day.

First, we had a two-hour walking tour of Liverpool. I didn’t know that Liverpool had been the major port city for England for a good portion of history, nor did I know it was actually the location of the final surrender of the American Civil War. It was nearly flattened by German airships in World War II, and The Beatles aren’t the only famous music act to come out of this city (though they are the most famous). There was a lot to learn, and Liverpool is actually so much more than a tourist hub for Beatlemaniacs and football (soccer) fans.

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Part of our tour took us down Matthew Street – the birthplace of The Beatles. It’s the street where the Cavern Club is located, where Brian Epstein first heard some scruffy teenage boys playing music late at night. Getting to stand next to the original entrance to the Cavern Club was something else. It’s no longer an entrance to the rebuilt Cavern Club, but it’s still got a sign detonating  where it used to be. So many famous and important people walked through those doors and stuffed themselves into that tiny, crowded room, just to hear some teenage boys who had bought their guitars on layaway play some of that “rock and roll.” It was really, really cool to stand so close to a piece of culture history that’s close to my heart. dsc_0256

Our tour ended at The Beatles Story – the museum that walks you through the life of The Beatles – from their days as The Qurraymen (sans Ringo), to their Hamburg days, to their “makeover” by Epstein, to the rise of Beatlemania to their tour of America, through their psychedelic writing of the Magical Mystery Tour & Sgt. Pepper, all the way through their breakup and individual solo careers and later lives. The section at the end was dedicated to John Lennon and all the impact he had on culture – especially with anti-war efforts in New York in the 1970s.

It is impossible to express my emotions about this museum. The Beatles have been a huge part of my life since middle school. Everyone has heard of The Beatles and everyone has their own story of how they impacted their lives. Here is my Beatles story:

I listened to The Beatles growing up – my dad loved classic rock, so I grew up hearing them. But I didn’t develop the love for them I have now until middle school. A good friend of mine (who I have since grown apart from), introduced me to “the original boy band” when we were thirteen. She told me, “I have this movie I want you to watch.” That movie was A Hard Day’s Night, and from that moment on, I knew there was something special about these boys from the 1960s who had long grown up before our time.

dsc_0301Later on, after that friend and I went our separate ways, The Beatles took on a more important role in my life – they helped me grow into the person I am today. It’s well known that I have a history of anxiety and depression (as I have been much more vocal about it lately), and The Beatles always helped me feel better back when it was bad. There was just something about the music that sometimes didn’t make sense to me that helped me feel worth it on my worst days. It wasn’t until high school that I understood the depth of what The Beatles were talking about – the revolution of peace and love and acceptance and understanding. They grew up in a country that was recovering from a war, my generation grew up in a country constantly at war. The Beatles got it. They knew that life was tough and the world was never going to be perfect, but all we had to do was “give peace a chance.”

There was something deeper to the music that had soothed my soul on my bad days. There was something more there, something that I hadn’t been old enough and mature enough to grasp until high school. Those boys hadn’t just been drug-addled hippies, as so many people like to generalize them. They were trying to make political statements and preach a happier and more peaceful world to everyone – young and old, men and women, American, European, Asian, African, everyone. It’s something my generation can only strive for.

But my appreciation and understanding of The Beatles would not be anywhere near where it is today without my best friend, Shelley. She has had many conversations with me about The Beatles, their cultural significance, what their songs mean, and how genuinely powerful a force this band was. She knew all of this because she grew up surrounded by The Beatles. Her dad is in more than one Beatles cover band, and she’s even named after a Beatles song (“Michelle”). Thank you, Shell.

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Getting to stand next to the (replica) stage at the (replica) Cavern Club: one of the highlights of my life and also Europe so far. 

Back to the museum…there was actually so much I didn’t know about The Beatles and their history before I went to this museum. Of course I knew about the basic things, stuff everyone knew, and a little bit more due to the fact that Shelley and I talked about The Beatles as much as most 1960s teenage girls did, but this museum had so much more. IES got us the audio guide to the museum, and that was so cool. We got the chance to hear some histories from Sir Paul McCartney himself, about the early years, we got to hear from fans who went to concerts and movie premiers, we got to hear it all.

Getting to walk through the life of this band that means so much to so many people (myself included) was an experience I’ll never forget. From sitting front row at the recreation of the original Cavern Club, to hearing John, Paul, George, and Ringo react to Brian Epstein’s death while standing next to a replica Penny Lane sign, to walking through a Yellow Submarine, to taking off my audio guide headphones in awe of The White Room (or, a recreation of The White Room, where John and Yoko filmed the music video for “Imagine”). Each moment of that museum reminded me that anyone can have an impact on the world – even four lower middle class boys from Liverpool. Sometimes, love is all you need.

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Still recovering from the emotions of standing this close to (a recreation of) John and Yoko’s “white room”.

After finally extracting myself from not only the museum but the museum shop, the group I was hanging out with decided to go for lunch. We made our way to a pizza place farther than I wanted (I was really hungry), but was so delicious. Literally, I had a chicken pesto pizza and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I know I keep saying that, but the food here keeps topping itself. I can’t explain it.

Once we finished lunch (we were starving, it took no time at all), Cameron, Sabrina, Simran, and I wanted to go to the Liverpool Cathedral. Apparently it’s the fourth largest cathedral in the world, so who wouldn’t want to see it?

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Simran, Sabrina, and I just hanging out in a cemetery. (Photocreds: Cameron)

Unfortunately, by the time the four of us made our way there, we learned it was closed. Naturally, we decided to visit the garden. No one informed us that the “garden” was actually the cathedral cemetery. Nonetheless, my new friends and I took cute, artsy pictures (as one does in a cemetery, LOL), and walked around the gorgeous grounds for a little while. It was really great to get to make some new friends on this trip where I didn’t really have many. I’m excited about that.

We went back to the train station, about as exhausted as we were when we woke up that morning. I slept for a good portion of the train ride back to London, and went back to my dorm and went to bed. It was a long, but wonderful day.

TLDR: I went to Liverpool and got really emotional at The Beatles Museum, learned a lot of history, went to a cathedral cemetery, and made some new friends. Now I have to finish a project for my Media &  UK Politics class that’s due tomorrow.


lydia. 

Shakespeare’s Globe & Miscellaneous Museums

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Yesterday, for my Shakespeare class, we went to see a show at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. While not the original theatre, as that one burned down in 1613 (during a production of Henry VIII), the Globe that is standing now is a reproduction – still open-air, and still producing The Bard’s classic works. Sometimes, they’re remixed and reimagined, sometimes they’re traditionally produced.

Yesterday, we saw a production of Cymbeline, reimagined and retitled, Imogen (after the daughter of the original title character). Before you keep reading, it’s really helpful to know the plot of this show, because I tried to summarize it, but found it quite difficult. CLICK HERE for the SparkNotes edition just to get a basic summary idea of what this show is about. It’s really good, you should also read it.

IT. WAS. SO. GOOD. It was retold as rival gangs (the British vs. the Romans) during what I assume was  a drug war. Cymbeline, the king of Britain, was the head of one gang, and Iachimo, a Roman, was the leader of the other. The costumes consisted entirely of athletic clothes (workout pants and leggings and Adidas hoodies and sneakers), and the girls all had funky hairstyles. The British wore all black costumes and the Romans wore all white. The only exceptions to this was Cloten had a red shirt (because he is brought on stage fighting with blood on his shirt), and when Imogen disguises herself as a man, she is in blue (which makes her stand out against the stark white of the Romans and the black clothes of the Britons). It was a really cool contrast and it made it easier to understand who was on which side. They also had a gender-bent character (Pisanio, and it worked, as she was portrayed as Imogen’s maidservant) and colorblind casting which I thought was amazing.

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Sarah, Madeline, & I had the peasant “seating” aka we were standing by (leaning up against) the stage for the whole show!

It was also impeccably choreographed. It didn’t have big musical numbers or anything like that (obviously), it was just that all the characters knew exactly where to be and where to interact with one another at exactly what moment. There were a couple times where they included modern music and had the scene choreographed to that, which was so, so cool. Especially the final fight scene. They had characters rigged up to fight in the air (off-set by other actors on ladders that essentially was a DIY rigging system ). Technically, I was so impressed.

They took a story that I don’t think many people had heard of before, and reimagined it in a way that would speak to modern audiences. It had all the elements of a Shakespeare show (I mean, it was his dialogue the whole time), but by making all the technical decisions they did, they kept the audience interested during the entire show. Which took a bit of work, since I was standing for the entire time we were there (remember, it’s a recreation of Shakespeare’s original Globe).

After the show was over, my friends Sarah, Madeline, and I decided to check out this museum that was right around the corner. The Clink Prison Museum.

Initially, I was really excited because I thought we would get to learn all about the history of London’s prison museum and how things had changed in the long history of England. Nope. The Clink was a historic prison that ran from the 12th century to 1780. There was a lot of focus on heretics and traitors, and overall it was really underwhelming to me. The only thing I enjoyed was at the end, we got to take a picture “behind bars” so my friends  and I decided we were going to do a Chicago-inspired, “Cell Block Tango” kinda thing…in which I turn out looking way more like I actually murdered someone than the “he had it coming” that the song is taking about.

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Overall, yesterday was a really eventful day. The Globe was all I expected and more (honestly I could go see Imogen again), but The Clink Prison Museum was really not that great. I also had a “pizza burger” from Honest Burger and I wish I had a picture of it but I ate it really fast..whoops lol.


lydia.

Not to Be Creepy…

One thing I find myself doing far too often is “creeping”. I love looking at people’s pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, what have you. I feel like I do it really often, almost to the point of living vicariously through other people’s adventures.

I find myself doing this with other people too. YouTubers who are in cute relationships, an adorable Instagram adventurer, a friend of a friend who is studying abroad. It’s not that I want to live their lives, but more that I feel like I’m not doing much with mine.

Which isn’t exactly true. I go to school out of my home state, I’ve made friends from all over the country, I’ve explored my new city, found places I feel at home. But that doesn’t cure this need for exploration. So, I find myself creeping on other people’s explorations.

I’ve done this a lot over the years, from Facebook-stalking my high school crush, to finding out what other movies that actor has been in. I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert at finding out things via social media.

But I feel like there is a point where interest ends and longing begins. I do long for some kind of adventure, some kind of change, something magnificent to happen to me. Do I need to go out and get it, or am I content with living quietly behind a computer screen?

Over the past few weeks, one of my friends and I have become somewhat obsessed with this adorable couple on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Of course, I am more obsessed than she is, but nonetheless, we both think they’re absolutely adorable and that their relationship seems to be making them both happy.

It was over the past week that I realized where my problem lies. It is with a dissatisfaction in what I’m doing with my life. I don’t find myself happy spending the weekends locked in my dorm room, or in the library, studying so I can stay at this college that I love so much. This school makes me so happy, but if my grades don’t improve soon, I won’t be able to come back next year.

I’m not happy with how much work I have to put in to remain at a place that makes me happy. Is that messed up? Am I messed up? I don’t know. But I do know that trying to find what I want, and trying to find my happiness isn’t going to be through other people’s adventures.

I’ll have time for my adventures. It will come someday. But for now, I need to figure out what everyone I “creep” on did to increase their happiness. I need to figure out what it is that is going to make me happy.

I’m done living behind a computer screen. I want to keep “creeping” on people, to see their lives and see their happiness. I want to be happy for them, and admire what they’re doing. But I can’t find my personal happiness in their lives anymore.

I don’t know what it is that makes it so hard for me to just get off my butt and get stuff done, but I need to do it. I need to work hard so I can stay at this college. I need to explore what I can right now. If that’s the internet, if that’s the coffee shop, if that’s whatever life is throwing at my right now, I need to explore it.

Because someday, I want to have adventures and pictures worth creeping on.