As a San Diegan living in the Netherlands, I realized this study abroad experience is my first encounter with a real winter. I’ve been in the snow, but this would be my first time in it for the long haul. So, like the sun lover I am, I pounced on the idea of warmer weather and booked my New Year’s Eve trip to Lisbon, Portugal with a group of friends. According to lonely planet, Lisbon is the No. 2 spot in Europe to celebrate the New Year.
We spent the last day of 2016 in Sintra- a real gem that is a must see town if you ever visit Portugal. I would have never thought of visiting if it weren’t recommended by other travelers. The town is located in the luscious mountains and covered with a diverse collection trees and plants. The homes built in Sintra are painted with bright and pastel colors, so you can only imagine how beautiful this was against the green landscape. It is home to ancient castles, palaces, and country homes.
We spent most of our time running around outdoors and through the underground caves. We took a bus higher up the mountain, climbed a bit higher and then found ourselves with a view of the landscape and ocean. One of our local friends told us stories about how his grandmother lived in one of the homes in front of the ocean. Mountains, forest and ocean all within a close distance … that sounds like a dream to me! For the rest of the day I took in the amazing fresh air.
Later that night, we spent our New Year’s Eve toasting champagne on a rooftop with a view of the fireworks and the water, and the city center where thousands of people were ringing in the new year. Felíz ano novo!
Lisbon was one of my favorite cities I’ve experienced so far. From the warm people (our Uber driver took us out to dinner LOL), the colorful city, the landscape, the food and – of course – making some amazing memories with really great friends.
It was definitely a very happy New Year.
Kelsey Deguia is media studies major. She will be studying at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands for the 2016-17 academic year.