This weekend, I took a trip to Lisbon, Portugal with my sister, Yabi. As I had mentioned in a previous blog, she had come to visit me for a week. Thus, from Wednesday afternoon to Friday afternoon, we were out of Madrid. Initially, she desperately wanted to visit Sevilla, but we also thought it would have been interesting to travel to another country together for the first time. Very last minute, as we are with most decisions, we decided we would head to Lisbon for our first trip together.
One of the first things I think I ought to mention is when to purchase flights if, during your time in Madrid or anywhere else in the world, you decide to fly elsewhere. Since mothers know practically everything, my mom had told me some years ago that flight companies adjust their prices between Monday night and Tuesday morning. Yabi and I were sitting up in bed on my computer checking every possible airline, and at around 3:00A.M., the flight prices began changing at an insane rate. Some prices dropped as much as half of their initial prices, and we noticed a few go up exactly 0,01 €. It was something very confusing to see at first, and I will attribute this confusion to how exhausted we were. Eventually, though, we remembered that the prices of flights change around those times—something we thought to be a myth. My last small tip is to always consider buying separate flights instead of round-trip flights. We ended up flying with two different airlines, and buying the going and returning flights separately ended up being cheaper.
We booked a nice airBNB by the edge of the Tagus River, and it was rather inexpensive for our (tight) budget. The studio was walking distance from the downtown area of Lisbon, and it was also very accessible to the tourist-y parts of Lisbon as well. Our host was very helpful when we arrived and suggested what we should do for Wednesday night and the entire Thursday that we were there. He provided a map and explained to us how to take the public transportation system in Lisbon. I could say that we wanted an authentic experience, but to be quite frank, Ubers were not in our budget whatsoever.
We wandered a lot that night to see the neighborhood, have dinner, and enjoy a moment without phone service—imagine that. Since our trip was so impromptu, my sister stayed up late that night to jot down a list of places we were to visit on Thursday. We took a tram to Belém and walked around, enjoying the closeness to the water. At one point, we were torn between whether we should visit Lisbon´s popular aquarium (that is apparently very kind to their animals according to online reviews) and the National Museum of Azulejo. Azulejo, a tile museum, was cheaper, and it made more sense for us to go there since we were running tight on time. Plus, I still was not too convinced on the aquarium idea. The museum was lovely and discounted once I showed my student ID. Once we left the museum, we stumbled across a market that was souvenirs galore, and my sister grabbed gifts for my host mom and her friends back home. The night concluded with a very elegant dinner at a restaurant close to our airBNB and a couple of glasses of wine. Needless to say, my study abroad experience has been pretty sweet.
Nicole—or Nico for short—is an Afro-Latina from the Bronx, NY who dabbles in poetry, prose, photography, and vocalism. She has published two books to date, both written in English and Spanish. She is currently attending Skidmore College with hopes to obtain two bachelor’s degrees for Spanish and Linguistics. Her ultimate goal is to someday open a school for deaf children in the Dominican Republic. She uses her writing to discuss taboo topics, like what it means to be a woman of color today’s world and how that shapes her perception.