Olá and au revoir abroad

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By: Amanda Reid, Columnist 

This past weekend was probably the longest weekend of my life. I woke up at 3 a.m. Saturday morning and met up with my friend Emily to take a taxi to the airport. We got through security surprisingly fast.

Europeans travelling around Europe doesn’t seem as big a deal as Americans flying from state to state. Our friend Keshanté then met us at the airport and we were on our way. After a 45-minute flight, we touched down in Lisbon, Portugal and the adventure began. We started at the beach in an area called Carcavelos.

It was incredibly beautiful, with bright blue water that glittered in the sunlight and sand so soft we kept sinking into it.

Emily wiped out on a rock near the harbor and Keshanté captured the moment on her phone while the two of us died laughing. We then got on the train to check into our Airbnb.

An Airbnb is basically a room that you can rent for however many nights you want that also has a kitchen and bathroom. It is one of the cheapest ways to travel, and there are tons of reviews that helped us find the ones that worked best for us.

The Airbnb in Portugal was amazing. It was right next to a grocery store and a souvenir shop. We were able to save money by buying breakfast at the store and cooking ourselves pasta one night while we were there.

The next day we went to the Museum Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, which had an enormous amount of artifacts from Ancient Egypt and Greece. We then went to Oceanario, which is Lisbon’s aquarium. The whole aquarium is built around the main tank, which holds hundreds of fish and even a few sharks.

There were also sea otters, penguins and other artic birds. Those exhibits only had glass up to your waist, so the birds were flying over-head, which I thought was extremely awesome.

The best part was the temporary exhibit, which was called Forests Underwater. It consisted of 78 tree trunks from Scotland and Malaysia, 10,000 freshwater fish from 40 different species, and 46 species of aquatic plants. The tank was enormous, and the tiny glittering fish swimming in the seagrass was quite breathtaking.

Sadly, our Portugal adventure ended after the aquarium, and the next morning we were on the move to Paris.

If I had to choose one word to describe Paris, it would be either dirty or expensive. The first day I got to see the Tomb of Napoleon, the Louvre (home of the Mona Lisa), the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge. The Eiffel Tower was surprisingly anticlimactic and far browner than I had imagined.

Our Airbnb in Paris was okay, the only problems were that the shower was cold and the beds were hard.

However, it was close to the Metro, which helped make traveling easier. The Metro however, is a different story. Calling it a maze would be an understatement. Walking from one line to another took at least five minutes and the Metros themselves were smelly and dirty. 

The best part of the Paris trip was definitely Versailles. I like to believe that I’m a princess, so seeing how actual royalty lived and what they spent their money on is fascinating to me. I had never seen so many marble busts and statues in one place in my life. And don’t even get me started on the gold!

After Versailles, we went to a café and had crepes and macaroons, which were fantastic. Then, we hoisted our backpacks back onto our shoulders and began the last smelly, gross, expensive metro ride to the airport.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. In my next update I’m going to give some airport and travel tips to help you avoid some of the tiny hiccups we experienced along the way!

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