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— By Xia Alexandra

While in Lisbon I did some exploring on my own of course. I visited the city of Fatima which was approximately an hour away from Lisbon. I also visited the holy shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

Finding places to eat in Lisbon was a little difficult for me. The typical Portuguese breakfast includes different varieties of pastries, including their famous Pastel de Nata as well as espresso or any freshly squeezed juice. Lunch was around 2 PM and dinner around 8:30-9 PM, which seemed late but after a late lunch, it’s natural. However, I eventually got accustomed to the routine and the food.         

One of my favorite places to eat was at the Time Out Market, which features various foods and chefs. Everything was super fresh and delicious, but get there on time or risk not getting a seat! 

As far as the nightlife, there’s always something buzzing in Lisbon. The natives eat a late dinner and enjoy the night with wine and music. They then find themselves at a local bar and then maybe a discotheque or anywhere they can dance and enjoy the night. I spent my weekends either at Bario Alto or Pink Street. Bario Alto is a stretch of different bars and restaurants and Pink Street is literally, a pink street where there are bars and restaurants. My friends and I would go after dinner to Time Out for sangria and to dance our nights away!

Pink Street

The metro system is easy to navigate so traveling throughout Lisbon is easy. There is an above ground train that goes further from the city center to other districts within Lisbon. Lisbon is also notable for their trolley busses so you shouldn’t have any problems getting around. 

After my time in Lisbon, a city that I fell deeply in love with, it was time to head to over to Madrid. Madrid was beautiful. And the shopping and the food offerings were plentiful. My favorite brunch spot was La Rollerie, located near the Plaza de Mayor, which was a short walk from where I stayed. While in Madrid, a long time friend and I stayed in a very cute AirBnB close to the city center. Madrid had me shopping! I also explored the city and the local parks, and of I course enjoyed their amazing food and wine.

I only had one night out in Madrid but I used that night to dance at a nightclub called El Kapital, a massive club spanning 7 floors!  Each floor catered to a different genre of music. This was really a great way to spend a Saturday night. And if you will visit El Kapital, which I recommend, I suggest getting your entrance ticket online. The ticket is your entry pass and 2 free drinks come with it, for only 17 Euros.

My shadow abroad trip ended in Barcelona, where I stayed for a few days. The food there was AMAZING! The beach was warm and beautiful (gotta love that Mediterranean sea) and the people were very friendly. In some way, Barcelona reminded me of NYC. It felt like a melting pot of cultures.  And I loved the diversity. 

Sagrada de Familia 
While in Barcelona, aside from making every day a beach day, I took a guided tour of Sagrada Familia, a beautiful Basilica designed by the late Antonio Gaudi. The church is still being built and is expected to be completed in 3 years. The craftsmanship and design are literally the finest. I highly recommend a guided tour of Sagrada so you can learn about all the creativity that is currently and has gone into the construction.  
Barcelona will forever be one of my favorite beach cities, everyone should go and soak up some of that sun! I ended my trip facing my fear of parasailing over the Mediterranean Sea, sigh. The view of the city was inexplicably beautiful.

On my shadow abroad journey, I faced fears, the unknown and most importantly I was forced to face myself. It took me from my comfort zones and forced me to immerse myself in cultures different from mine own. Therefore, I implore you to follow your heart and get out there! There is much to see! 

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