I Left My Heart in Lisbon. Posted on October 27th, 2011 by

Studying abroad brings many opportunities to travel and even more when you are in Europe because you are so close to everything. It could be costly even with the cheapest way but it is worth it because it may be a chance in a lifetime. Last weekend my friends and I took a bus to Lisbon, Portugal as our first stop to see the rest of the world outside of Spain. I had not had any idea of what Portugal was like. We took a night bus and arrived in Lisbon around six in the morning. We were all sleepy and exhausted but I felt in love with the city the moment I got out of the bus station. I love the view and the feeling of being in this city.

Unlike Sevilla where the old and the new are put next to each other: the old in the center with the cathedral and narrow streets, the new surrounding the old with tall buildings and wide avenues, the old and new of Lisbon are combined into one. That is to say, there is no old or new but only one Lisbon. It does not look the same everywhere in Lisbon but it has a certain look. The streets are not two small, nor are they too big, just enough for pedestrians, cars as well as trams to cofunction peacefully at the same time.

Houses in Lisbon are not gorgeously pretty but they have their very own beauty. They look ancient and natural, unpolished and all people there would hang their clothes out the window for them to dry. There is nothing particularly exciting that one must see in these houses but they have their very own same authentic look no matter where they are in the city. A friend of mine says that Lisbon looks rundown but I totally disagree with her. The houses and the streets look aged but they were not destructed; they just like to be kept the way they have always been. A fact to prove that Lisbon is old but not rundown is that the city is really clean. It is hard to walk in Sevilla without having to watch for dogs or horses’ poo. I skipped my step everywhere on the streets of Lisbon without having to worry about anything.

I thought Spain and Portugal have many cultural aspects in common. They have somewhat shared some part of the history, were both under the Moorish conquest but they are two distinctive cultures and Portuguese people often feel offended when one thinks they were similar. When we tried to speak Spanish to Portuguese people, they replied us in English. I asked the hostel owner where I stayed and was told that most Portuguese can speak Spanish but they refused to. That was one of our barriers during our stay. Most young people can speak English but the older. We asked for direction from a Portuguese police officer and were directed in Portuguese!

On our second day in Portugal, we took a train to Sintra, a little town 40 minutes away from Lisbon. We paid a visit to “Quinta da Regaleira” – an estate in Sintra that is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The place consists of the Regaleria Palace, enormous parks, wells, fountains, tunnels and an aquarium. We climbed all the way to the top of the palace where we could see everything of Sintra. I really do not have any words to explain the view and the feeling when I was there. It was just simply beautiful, so beautiful that you can only appreciate it and no words can describe. One difference that I found in the culture as well as architecture between Spain and Portugal is that Spanish culture is a lot more church related. Whenever you go a place in Spain, a visit to the cathedral is a must, then churches and monasteries. The Museum of Fine Arts in Sevilla is all about religious arts from medieval period to early 20th century. Whereas in Portugal, you sort of go everywhere and appreciate the nature, the authentic beauty in every street corner.

People in Portugal get up and start working a lot earlier than they do in Spain. When we were walking to our hostel from the bus station around seven in the morning, waiters were already up putting tables out and setting up for their restaurants. Portuguese also have breakfast really quick; they do not eat while walking or driving to work as many people do in the States, they do not sit down to have a long breakfast and chat with friends as Spanish people do. Most Portuguese that I have seen drop by a bakery on the street to have a small piece of pastry and a coffee; they eat them quick then go to work.


I found life in Lisbon calm and peaceful. Downtown Lisbon during the day can get noisy but it is not the annoying noise from vehicles but the noise from people chatting, sometimes the clanking sound of the chime of the tram running throughout the city. A sound that you cannot miss walking in Lisbon is Beatles’ songs played by streets artists in everywhere in the city. Sometimes I forgot that Lisbon is the capital of a country due to the sound, the people and the peaceful feeling it brings.



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