A few weeks ago, I went on spring break with six of my friends to Portugal and Spain. I had been looking forward to spring break for a long time, especially after we created a loose itinerary for the trip. By having a list of places we wanted to go as well as pre-booking some important places, it made the days easier since we already had things to do in mind.
We started off in the beautiful Lisbon which is full of colorful houses and architecture, but unfortunately also a lot of hills. After taking a free walking tour of the Alfama district, we learned that no matter what, you are always going uphill in Lisbon. During the Lisbon leg of our trip, I was most excited to see Pena Palace, which is located about an hour outside of Lisbon in the town of Sintra. The castle seriously looks like it came out of Disney World and I spent the entire time waiting for my Prince Charming to pop up out of nowhere.
Next, we made our way to Madrid, which led to several obstacles. On top of one of our group members booking the wrong flight, we had a lot of difficulty getting from the airport to our hostel. The transportation system was very confusing and it almost gridlocked you in a specific area so even though we needed to change trains, we were unable to due to apparently not having enough money on our cards. After serious frustration, we decided to Uber but even had issues with that due to language barriers and technology issues. I guess spring break cannot happen without a few transportation problems, right?
Despite starting off on a rocky start, our short time in Madrid was packed with free tours and adventures. We met up with one of our other friends from London who was on spring break with her mom. It was super fun to get an amazing taco lunch with them and hear more about her trip!
Finally, we went to the beautiful Barcelona, which was super exciting since I had learned a lot about it in my high school Spanish classes. We visited the famous Sagrada Familia and Park Güell to live out our Cheetah Girls dreams. Barcelona was the perfect place to end our spring break as it was relaxing to be by the water.
After spring break, I have a few pieces of advice for those wishing to travel while on study abroad:
- Planning a few key places you want to visit ahead of time eases stress. This includes pre-booking anything with time slots or things that can sell out.
- Expect obstacles while traveling. No trip is perfect, and honestly, obstacles make you a stronger person and more resilient.
- Don’t be afraid to spend money on such a large trip. Yes, traveling for such a long time is expensive, but also a once in a lifetime opportunity. Your bank account won’t care if you buy the extra gelato. So, buy the extra gelato!
I cannot wait to travel again. Up next: Milan. Unit next time, cheerio!