Another week in Lisbon has flown by! Looking back on the week I can’t believe we’ve done so much, and made such amazing friendships, I’ll be so sad to leave this gorgeous city next week!
On our first whole weekend, we were taken on a guided tour of Sintra, which included visiting the Pena Palace, Monserrate Palace and Cabo da Roca, the most western point of continental Europe. The Pena Palace was our first stop, and after climbing a very steep and very winding hill in our little bus, we were treated to a view of the gorgeous palace, painted in many vibrant shades of red and yellow. We spent a solid while taking really cool pictures in some of the palaces arches, which looked out onto incredibly green fields and trees, and the typical white and terracotta houses of the town below. After wandering through the palace, we ventured out into the palace gardens before heading back to the town for lunch.
After lunch we headed off to explore Monserrate Palace, before driving to Cabo da Roca, the most western point of Europe. We made it to Cabo da Roca just in time for the sunset, and a few of us sat on the walls at the edge of the cliff to watch the sun go down. Watching that sunset in the freezing cold has been one of the highlights of this trip, sitting on what felt like the edge of the world with some incredible people as the day came to an end. I was however very happy to go inside and have a hot chocolate to warm up!
Even after such a big day, we decided to head out on a pub crawl in Barrio Alto, and had an incredible night exploring the bars and clubs Lisbon has to offer! Although, I definitely learned you probably shouldn’t wear heels out to explore cobblestoned streets until all hours of the morning…
The next few days were full of working on our group assignments! We have to design a policy or intervention project that will empower women, and all the groups are coming up with really interesting ideas. We also had some lectures this week on gender and the work-life balance, gendered violence and human trafficking, as well as a visit to Village Underground, which is an art space that offers affordable work areas to artists and musicians – all of which have really inspired our projects!
On our free day during the week, I visited the Castelo de S. Jorge, the castle atop one of the tallest hills in Lisbon. From the top you could see the whole city! Wandering through the castle you can find preserved ruins in an archaeological site, and peacocks living throughout the grounds, often screaming at each other from the trees. Further into the castle you can walk up a very tall flight of stairs that lets you walk along the top of the castle walls, and I’ve realised something Lisbon definitely has covered is incredible views!
This week we also visited a space for domestic violence victims called Espaco Julia, which is a space run by a specialised police and the council. They offer specialised services to victims of crime, and provide a safe space for victims to go and report the crimes they have experienced and access the support they need. The police officers we spoke to said that the largest portion of victims that come to them are victims of domestic violence, and that they have given their services and support to over 600 victims in the past year. Visiting Espaco Julia was an emotional experience, but it definitely showed us all that specialised services for victims of domestic violence can really make a difference in a community.
To finish this week, we went on a tour of Evora, in the south of Portugal. We first stopped at what the guide referred to as “Portugal’s Stonehenge”, Almendres Cromlech, a collection of rocks dating back to an ancient religion. We also stopped off at the Roman Temple of Evora, a very old library, and the Cathedral of Evora, which has a winding set of stairs that let you up onto the roof!
After walking around on the roof, we headed back down to visit another church, the Chapel of Bones. The chapel was decorated by Monks with bones from the graves of the city. Above the chapel, and inscription that translates to “We bones, that are here, for yours await.” Creepy!
We finished off the day at yet another castle, Monsarraz, from the top of which we could see the border between Portugal and Spain!
It’s pretty sad to think a week from now I will have parted ways with all the amazing people I’ve met on this trip, but I can definitely say we’ll make the most of what little time we have left here!
University of California San Diego/ United States of America
"The program was an experience I will never forget. The course was academically challenging, but coupled with the engaging field trips, provided first hand insight into the operations and politics of the European Union."
"This program was a fantastic way to learn a great deal of material in a short period of time. The people in your classes become like family and Granada has such a rich history and culture that there is always something to do..."
"Oxford is a world of its own, and in the sunny afternoons of summer, the flowers bloom, the tourists throng along the streets, while the cafes are crowded and the book, souvenir and antique shops become jammed with delighted people"