Hi! My name is Courtney Giles and I’m from Pittsburgh, Pa. I’m pursuing a major in photojournalism with a minor in advertising and public relations. When I’m not studying, I take photos for The Globe and freelance write for Trib Total Media. I love hanging out with my friends, enjoying nature and exploring Pittsburgh. This trip to Spain and Portugal will be my first time out of the country and first time ever on an airplane. I’m so excited to learn about a different culture, to try new foods, and to take tons of pictures!
May 12, 2015
After a long day of traveling, our flight landed in Madrid at about 8:30 a.m. We found our way through the airport and then jumped on a roomy tour bus and headed straight for the city. On the way there, our morning tour guide, Olga, started telling us about what we were seeing around us. She spoke about the different types of places to live and how it is different from how we live in America. She also said that even though Madrid gets very hot in the summer, many people, including herself, do not have air conditioning in their homes. I found that very interesting because of how hot Madrid gets. Once we got into the city, we got a tour of the different amenities Madrid has to offer. We saw clothing stores, coffee shops, and restaurants – all within close proximity to our hotel. On the way, we stopped to get lunch, which we decided to eat in Retiro Park. The park was filled with people riding bikes, eating ice cream, and talking. After spending about a half hour there, we made our way to Madrid’s Royal Palace. The palace was absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside the rooms. The rooms were filled with such detailed décor from floor to ceiling. There were so many rooms, and we learned that all of them are used for different things. One is used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, prayers, parties, teas, etc. After getting a tour through the palace by the very informative Mauricio, we finally got to check into our hotel and get settled. Not being able to use my phone really made me realize how many things I actually use my phone for. So, when we got to the hotel, I connected to WIFI and was able to tell my family that I landed safely (7 hours prior). We met in the hotel lobby for a neighborhood walk and dinner. On the way there, we saw a lot of really cool things. There seemed to be some sort of character or performer at every corner. We were able to explore the neighborhood with Mauricio as our guide. He took us to Mesón don Carnal for a tapas dinner. Tapas is basically a wide variety of appetizers. We didn’t think it was going to be filling, but by the 6th course we were pretty full. We ate cheese, ham, chicken fingers, mushrooms, calamari, and more. Not to mention a delicious piece of chocolate cake, happy birthday Olivia! At this point, everyone was full of yummy food and exhausted from being up for over 24 hours. So, we headed back to the hotel to get some much deserved rest.
May 13, 2015
We met in the hotel lobby after a continental breakfast and headed to the metro to go to our first media visit. Universidad de Navarra is a fashion business school based in Madrid. Professor Gustavo Garcia-Mansilla spoke to us about the current landscape of the Spanish media. Something I found interesting that he mentioned is that for every dollar spent on advertising in Spain, the United States spends $40. Being an advertising minor, that was interesting to learn the difference in what we spend on advertising compared to Spain. In fact, it seems that the United States spends more in every market when it comes to media. We learned that the most read newspaper in Spain is Marca, the most read magazine is Pronto, and the most listened to radio station is Canada Ser. In April, I wrote a research paper on how Spanish citizens obtain their news and I was happy to see that the information I found matched up with the information he gave us.
After visiting Universidad de Navarra, we walked to VIPS for lunch. I ordered a cheeseburger and French fries with the help of Mauricio’s translating. Then, we took a long walk to Condé Nast for our next media visit of the day. Condé Nast is the biggest private communication company in the world. Natalia Gamero del Castillo, VP of Corporate Development, welcomed us. We learned that Condé Nast basically invented the concept of a lifestyle magazine. Inés Lorenzo, an editor at Vogue, spoke to us next. She explained to us that the main challenge for Vogue is to remain relevant and to try innovative things, even if they fail.
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates
Natalia took us upstairs and we go to see the Vogue newsroom, fitting room, and photo studio. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photos in those rooms because everything was top secret, but it was still amazing to see! After walking through and touching all the beautiful clothing, we went back downstairs for our next speaker. Beatriz Palomo, the art director at Vanity Fair, spoke to us about photo shoots and the importance of getting the right shot for the cover of the magazine. I was most excited to hear what she had to say because I am a photographer and loved hearing the back-stories about everything that went into shooting these amazing photos. As we were leaving, we were given a bag of magazines including Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Traveler, and Glamor.
We took the Metro back to our hotel where we got ready for dinner. Marissa, Kim, Kari Ann, and I went off to find this market of tapas that we saw yesterday. We got lost on the way but after looking at the map and asking a local where to go, we found our way. After we ate, we sat outside and watched people cheering for the futball game between Italy and Madrid. We also stopped at a couple souvenir shops where I bought a couple of things to take home to my family. I am excited for tomorrow because we are visiting Havas Media Group, which I studied and wrote a research paper on earlier in the semester.
May 14, 2015
We got an early start today to visit Ketchum Spain. We took the Metro into town and went up to the forth floor of the building to see the office. The class sat down at this big table in the training room to begin asking questions and taking notes. We had many speakers, each of which worked in different fields. Lourdas Bustamantes, senior account executive, spoke about Rochas Fragrances and the two key times of the year for perfume sales – Christmas and Mother’s day. Carlota De Lucas, account supervisor, also spoke about fragrance. The Hugo Boss “Man of Today” campaign featured Gerard Butler, who embodies the man of today. Lucas explained the main objectives for this campaign were to get across that the man of today has three key characteristics – success, style, and ethics. I asked Lucas if campaigns like this often change strategies or if they usually remain the same and she answered that they usually do stick to their initial plans, but sometimes certain factors can change the strategy.
After Ketchum, we had a few hours to relax and get lunch (siesta!). We also did a little shopping at Mulaya, a clothing store a couple doors down from our hotel. I found shopping there a little difficult because most of the clothing had no sizes on them! So, I just eyed it and left with a navy blue tank top and a grey chain necklace.
Next, we headed to Havas Media Group in northern Madrid. I was excited and nervous for this visit because Marissa and I were responsible for asking the first questions and giving the speakers Point Park notecards as a thank you gift. Niko Muñoz, head of global corporate development, spoke to us first. He talked about the different marketing conglomerates and digital planning and buying. I asked him if celebrity endorsements made a large difference in the amount of followers a brand gains compared to brands that are not celebrity endorsed. He turned the question over to speaker number two, Olalla Castro, the meaningful brands global insights analytic executive, who said that that celebrity endorsements were more powerful in the early 2000’s. They have lost power because when celebrities endorse multiple things, each brand they endorse becomes less meaningful.
Straight from Havas, Mauricio put us in a cab so we could try to go get tickets for the bullfight. We made it there successfully and got tickets for about 8 euros each. Before the fight started, we got dinner at a Lebanese café. We had a little trouble ordering because the employees did not speak any English. I ate Pollo Picante. I didn’t know what it was before ordering it, but it was delicious! We scarfed down our mystery meals and headed back across the street for the bullfight. The bullfight as a whole was pretty disturbing to me. As I was looking around at everyone else at the match, I noticed that everyone was acting similar to how we would act a Penguins or Steelers game. To them, this is a sport and part of their culture. They have been attending bullfights since they were little and this is the norm for them. I also saw photographers standing in the restricted area taking pictures of the match. Being a photojournalism major, I wondered what it is like to document that sort of thing on such a consistent basis. Again, I realized it is normal for them. We watched the first five bullfights and started getting used to this idea. Then, the last bullfight began. The bullfighters and the bulls were brought out into the ring and they started doing what we saw them do 5 previous times. All of the sudden, bullfighter Jiménez Fortes was flipped up onto the bull and thrown down to the ground. The bull viciously attacked him by ramming his horn into Fortes’ neck. Fortes got up and walked away with a heavy bleeding neck and then collapsed into the arms of 4 other bullfighters, who carried him off. Marissa, Kari Ann, Kim, and I sat shocked with our hands over our mouths and tears in our eyes. We couldn’t believe what had just happened. The people around us looked concerned, but not nearly as concerned as we were. After sitting silent and trying to process what had happened for a few minutes, we realized that the bullfight had continued with another bullfighter. The rest of the match took place and many people stuck around to see what happened to Fortes. A man leaving the stadium saw our shocked faces and said “Are you terrified?” and I responded, “very!” The man told us that it does not happen very often, but it happens. We also learned from him that there are doctors on standby in the stadium in case something like this does occur. Again, I compared it to a player getting hurt in hockey or football in America. When it happens we are concerned, but we understand that these things do happen. However, this did not stop me from replaying the incident over and over in my head.
When we got home, we looked up the bullfighter on Google to see if we could find any information on what was going on with him. Kim found an article on El Pais, a popular Spanish newspaper. The article essentially described the incident in graphic detail but unfortunately did not give us any new information. The article also featured a photo of Fortes holding his bloody neck right after the accident occurred.
Moving on, I am very excited for the next few days because we will be doing a lot of sightseeing! Tomorrow we are visiting Valley of the Fallen and traveling to Segovia – where I will be taking lots of pictures, of course.
May 15, 2015
This morning we got up early, ate breakfast, and hopped on a tour bus to go to Valley of the Fallen. It took about 30 minutes to get there and we got such a beautiful view of the mountains on the way. As we were driving up the mountains to get to the Valley of the Fallen, we could see the cross from many different angles. When we got up there, it was the most breath taking view I have ever seen. As we were looking around enjoying the view, nuns started walking up to the church for the service that was beginning soon. We all went into the church and Mauricio told us the rich history of it. I found out that Francisco Franco is buried behind the altar. Then, we went back outside and took lots of pictures before getting on the tour bus to head to Segovia.
The ride to Segovia was about an hour north and on the way Mauricio started telling us some history of the city. He said that NASA has three main tracking stations, one in California, one in Australia, and one in Segovia. We learned that Segovia is an old roman city and was almost abandoned when the nobles moved to Madrid. We also saw Segovia’s bull ring, although Mauricio said it is not used as often as the one in Madrid. When we got there, we saw Segovia’s Castle – Alcázar De Segovia. We later toured the castle and Mauricio told us so many interesting facts about it. He said that the castle burned to ash in the 16th century and had to be completely rebuilt. A lot of the original decoration does not remain today. One of the most difficult things we did at this location was go up into the castle’s tower. We underestimated the physical abilities it would take to climb a steep, narrow, spiral staircase. However, it was definitely worth the view when we got to the top. After making our way down to the bottom, we looked around in a couple gift shops and went to dinner at El Bernardo. I was nervous for this meal because I ordered pig. I wasn’t sure if I would like it but I figured I am in Spain so I might as well experience everything I can! When the waiter brought out the big, it looked like a pig, which was unsettling. All of the sudden the waiter cuts the pig into slices with a dinner plate and breaks the plate off of the floor! The pig smelled and kind of tasted like chicken. Not my favorite meal ever, but like I said, an experience.
After dinner I realized I was completely exhausted as we walked down to the tour bus. I slept the entire way back to Madrid.
Tomorrow we visit Toledo and take a two-hour train ride to Barcelona. Before that, I sleep! Goodnight!
May 16, 2015
Today we woke up very early again so we would have time to visit Toledo before going to Barcelona. We took a 45-minute tour bus ride to Toledo and saw most of the town by bus because we didn’t have time to walk. Eventually we got out to see the cathedral and were able to tour the inside of it. The inside was even more beautiful than the outside. The ceilings were the highest I have ever seen in a building and they had such detailed designs on them. Mauricio told us all about the different chapels and their uses. He also told us that there are 9 organs in the cathedral!
After seeing the cathedral we walked around a bit and then got back on the bus to head to Madrid. The 45-minute ride felt like 5 to me because I fell asleep instantly. We got to the train station, got all of our luggage out of the bus, and raced for our train. The train was a lot different than I expected. When I hear train, I automatically think ‘old,’ but it was actually very modern. The commute was roughly 3 hours and I slept for the first 2 so the ride went by fast. For the remaining hour I was awake, I looked out the window to see the beautiful scenery of Spain.
When we got to the train station in Barcelona, we got our luggage and walked to our new tour bus, which was huge! We also met Patrick, our temporary tour guide. We drove around and got our first glimpse of our home for the next 3 days. Immediately I could tell Barcelona was a lot more crowded than Madrid. At the same time, it was more spread out. La Rambla is the main strip of Barcelona, which is where we’re staying. It is beautiful, lined with trees all the way down to the end of the road.
After getting settled in our hotel and eating dinner, we were able to go out and explore Barcelona. I can’t even remember where we walked because we went so many places. I do know one thing though – we’re going to have a fabulous time here!
Tomorrow is our first free day of the trip and I have to say I’m glad it’s in Barcelona. We’re planning on going to the beach, shopping, and exploring.
May 17, 2015
It felt so nice to sleep in for the first time this whole trip. We got up around 11 and got ready to go to the beach. The beach, called Barceloneta, was a little bit of a walk from our hotel, but I didn’t mind because we got to see more of Barcelona. I was so excited to see the water and sand when we started getting closer to the beach. When we finally arrived, we picked a spot and went to touch the Mediterranean Sea for the first time – it was FREEZING. We decided laying on the beach would be our best option, so that’s what we did, for two hours. We didn’t bring beach towels either so we just laid right on the sand! It was so relaxing to hear the waves and feel the warm sand on my skin.
We left the beach around 5 to go shopping and walk around some. On the way, we stopped to get some gelato. I got 2 scoops of chocolate and it was delicious! It was also the perfect refreshment for a hot day. After eating and looking around at all the shops, we decided we needed some real food. We had been talking about how we didn’t want to keep spending tons of money so Marissa suggested McDonald’s and I was all for it. The McDonald’s we went to had these weird touch screen ordering stations. They were actually convenient and quite fast because I got my order in under a minute. We ate outside on the strip and every once and a while would hear singing or someone playing an instrument.
We made our way back to the hotel after dinner to relax before our group meeting. I was so tired (and sunburnt) after today that I just laid in bed for the 2 hours we had before meeting.
At the meeting we discussed what our favorite media and cultural visits were. I said my favorite media visit was Conde Nast because I loved seeing the Vanity Fair magazine covers and hearing everything that went into making them happen. I said my favorite cultural visit was Segovia because, well, it was just amazing. Mostly everyone else said Segovia was their favorite too. We also discussed the game plan for the next couple of days. Tomorrow we visit Camp Nou and Tv 3. We’re also seeing a Flamenco show at night.
I can’t believe we’re already half way through the trip. I can’t wait to see what else Europe has in store for us.
May 18, 2015
Our first media visit this morning was the TV3 campus. Teresa Guitart, head of international relations in sales, spoke to us first. She started out by explaining a little bit about Catalunya and it’s culture. She said that Catalunya is a region of 7 million people who speak a language called Catalan. A lot of people mistake Catalan for a dialect, but it is intact an official language. In the 1980’s, the people of Catalunya were starting to worry that their language would die because it was not being spoken as much as it should be. Around this time, TV3 was just starting out and pondering ways to be successful on Spanish television. They decided to broadcast their first program on September 11, 1983, the national holiday of Catalunya. Overall, TV3 had a big part in helping keep alive the language of Catalan.
Our next speaker was Ferran Molines, head of image and producing for the marketing department of TV3. He explained that TV3 works with many other companies outside of the station for different projects. The logo of TV3 is something that they take pride in because it has been their logo since they first began. Ferran said that the logo represents the Catalunya culture – wise and impulsive.
We were lucky enough to be able to get a tour of the TV3 campus as well. We saw the news room, the sports room, makeup room, control room. We even got to see a talk show as it was being filmed live!
Next we went to Camp Nou, home of FCBarcelona. We got an awesome tour of the stadium including the museum and the press box. After the tour, we got to shop in the Nike gift shop.
We returned to our hotel with a couple of hours before dinner and the Flamenco show, so of course I took advantage of a napping opportunity. At 7, we met in the lobby and took the Metro to Palacio Del Flamenco. We got served delicious food in such a pretty venue. Halfway through our meal, the show began. I had never seen a Flamenco show before but it was very interesting to watch. I was surprised at how aggressive the dancing was and how much emotion you could see in all of the performer’s faces. Overall, it was a great show and I took lots of pictures of the dancers.
Tomorrow is our last day in Barcelona and our last day in Spain. At 7:30pm, we fly to Lisbon, Portugal where we will conclude our trip on Friday. I’m excited to see what our last city has in store for us!
May 19, 2015
I was very sad leave Spain today, but the further we get into this trip, the more exhausted I become. To pack 2 countries into 12 days in no easy task, but we’re doing it!
For our last day in Barcelona, we visited La Vanguardia, a very popular newspaper in Spain. An editor at the paper, Miguel Molina, gave us some information on how the paper operates and how it came to be. He said the paper is 134 years old and has always been owned by the same company, which is apparently very rare for newspapers in Europe. Half of their readers speak Spanish and the other half speak Catalan. So, they print the same paper in both languages to reach a wider range of readers. Citizens do subscribe via print and digital, however there are only 5,000 digital subscribers. Molina explained Spain’s unwillingness to pay for content on the internet and how that has been a big problem for La Vanguardia as well as other newspapers. As far as their social media presence, they are active on Twitter and Facebook, however Facebook is their main social network site. Instagram is also on the horizon for the paper as it becomes more and more popular in Spain. I always find it interesting to hear how various companies keep up with the ever-changing social media landscape. If I take away one thing from all of these media visits, its that innovation, change, and adaptation is key. Technology and social media has forced all companies to have a digital presence while still keeping up with original print content. Now, instead of printing one newspaper per day, papers must update their social media accounts regularly, respond to commentators, release digital content in a timely manner, etc. Honestly, I don’t know how they keep up with all of it! After talking to the editor and asking questions, we got to see a tour of their newsroom. It was nice to see the journalists working and in action.
We stopped for lunch after the media visit before seeing La Sagrada Familia. Marissa and I chose to eat at Bar Nuria, which was very good. She got pesto pasta and I got fried vegetables with a sauce I couldn’t pronounce – but it was great! One thing I am excited to go back to America for is free water. Here, they give it to you at room temperature and without ice. Also, separating checks is a foreign concept to them. We have had a couple waiters get very agitated when the question is even brought up!
Our last hours in Barcelona were spent in La Sagrada Familia, a church designed by Antoni Gaudi. The church had commenced construction in 1882, and still to this day is not finished. While we were there, you could actually see cranes and various construction equipment surrounding the site. We got to do a self guided tour in which you are given a head seat and you press whatever number you see as you walk around the church. I learned that the pillars inside were modeled after tree trunks, which twist up into natural structures as your eyes lead you to the ceiling. The inside was beautiful and I know I said the last church we toured had the highest ceilings I had ever seen, but La Sagrada Familia definitely just took that title. It was breath taking to see the detailed architecture on the inside and outside of the church. Many people think that the continuous construction of the structure is a waste of money, and it might be, but I can’t help but think that it adds character. I mean, maybe one day I’ll go back to Barcelona when I’m old and the church will finally be finished and I can say I saw it while it was under construction. Or, I can go back and say “Wow, this was under construction back when I was only 19 years old and it’s STILL under construction!” Either way, it’s cool.
We’ve had such beautiful weather this whole trip and today was the first day it rained. I was confused because I thought the rain in Spain stayed mainly in the plains (ha ha). We got drenched on the way from the church to the bus, then headed to the airport to depart for Lisbon, Portugal. After checking our bags, we had to say goodbye to our tour guide, Mauricio. When we first arrived in Madrid, our temporary tour guide, Olga, was calling Mauricio ‘the best tour guide in Spain,’ and he was just that. He definitely added something to our trip and I’m so thankful for his humor and warm personality. He had excellent knowledge of his country and I know we all learned a lot from him.
Our flight to Lisbon was roughly and hour and 30 minutes, and we are now 5 hours ahead of the U.S. instead of 6. We were welcomed by our new guide, Odet, and tomorrow she will be giving us a panoramic tour of Lisbon. We have not seen anything but our hotel room yet, and that is just fine with me – I’m ready for bed. Goodnight Lisbon!
May 20, 2015
So far, Lisbon is not what I expected it to be. The morning was a nice change of pace. I woke up feeling rested and refreshed for the first time in almost two weeks. We took a panoramic tour of Lisbon and it felt much more relaxed than Madrid and Barcelona. There are less crowds of people and less chaos. We drove around the city and it had a quaint feel to it. Many streets are lined with these beautiful purple trees that accent the pastel colors of the buildings. We drove past a bullfighting ring and Odet told us that it’s become a multi-purpose facility, often hosting concerts and events such as Disney on Ice. Something we learned in class is that Portugal is the biggest cork producer in the world. When we stopped at one of our sites today, I found these adorable postcards made out of cork that had paintings of Lisbon printed on them.
Another thing we talked about in class was the unemployment rate of both Spain and Portugal and how that corresponds with the amount of petty crime and graffiti in the city. In Spain, but especially in Portugal, there is graffiti everywhere. From what we’ve heard in class, they see it as an art and an expression of the hardships they are experiencing. I found that interesting because in America we see it as anything but art.
We had one media visit today and it took place at the new university of Lisbon. Paulo Faustino gave us an overview of the media landscape in Lisbon and that was very helpful. He listed some important media groups in Portugal like Media Capital, Global Media, and Nos, and explained why each of them make great contributions to the big picture.
Next, Lara, an American living in Lisbon spoke to us. It was so refreshing to hear English and not have any sort of language barrier between us. She explained that she moved here from California for work in international relations. For the most part, the relationship between the U.S. and Portugal is uneventful, stable, and peaceful. That was very different for Lara, who originally studied international relations concerning the Middle East, which is anything but boring. She also talked a little bit about the 10 months she has spent in Lisbon so far and what she likes about the city. She said she loves it here and actually plans to stay here for her life.
After our media visit, we went back to the hotel and had the chance to go out and find dinner. This is where the day went downhill for me. As we started walking around the city, we realized everything was closed or closing at 7pm. After about a half hour of walking, we began to get very frustrated. It didn’t help that we do not speak any Portuguese, and unlike Spain, the locals aren’t familiar with English. We finally came about this Chinese buffet and decided this was our last hope. The food and service was very bad but our stomachs were full and by this point, thats really all we could ask for.
We made our way back to the hotel and it was still early. In Madrid in Barcelona, we were out walking around, shopping, and eating late. There were many people still out and about at late hours. Here, it doesn’t seem to be the same. Everyone keeps talking about the great social aspect and amazing nightlife of Lisbon, but I have yet to see that. So far, Lisbon is not my favorite place. I hope tomorrow brings more excitement!
May 21, 2015
Our morning media visit was RTP. We were spoken to by Lopez de Araujo, director of international relations and public relations at RTP. He was very excited to have us because he said they don’t get many students from America coming to Portugal. Yesterday, Lara touched on this a little bit telling us that the number of American students that come to America to study is less than 100 per year. She also said that programs have been implemented to encourage students to study here. Lopez went on to tell us about the history of RTP and how it has evolved into what is is today. RTP started in Portugal in 1957 and television and radio were separate channels. In 2005, radio and television merged together. RTP sticks with a couple things that they work into both television and radio. One is the promotion of Portuguese values and the other is independent and pluralistic information. Lopez says that they are working toward reaching a younger audience and have started a late night TV show.
In the afternoon, we visited Global Media Group. The CEO of the company spoke to us mostly about the strategy and goals of the company. For television, they want to be the first choice for presenters, they want to be known as innovators, and they want to be a reference in digital credibility. For radio, they want to be a strong political power, most impacting radio in the market, and a site of reference in Portugal. The company also has 2 travel magazines, one international and one local, and 2 printing companies.
After a long day of media visits, we were dropped off in the square for shopping and dinner. In this area, there is a lot going on with many people and lots of stuff to do. Yesterday, because our hotel is in a desolate area, I think I got the wrong idea of Lisbon. Today, I saw it for what it truly is – a beautiful, colorful city with lots of character. We ate dinner at a restaurant by the sea and afterwards got pastries from a cute shop. Side note: I need to stop eating pastries, but they’re SO GOOD.
Tomorrow is the last day of the trip and we are going to Sintra and the beach. From the pictures I’ve seen, Sintra is absolutely beautiful so I have been waiting to see it this entire trip.
May 22, 2015
Well we made it – the last day of the trip. We woke up early to make the half-hour drive to Sintra, a city in Portugal. It was beautiful – there were shops, restaurants, and castles everywhere. We were given a couple of hours to walk around, shop, and explore the area. After that, we traveled to this beautiful overlook of the coast and the water, which is also the western most point of continental Europe. The overlook was called Cabo De Roca. There, we finally took our group photo wearing our Point Park Spain and Portugal 2015 sweatshirts. I didn’t even mind wearing it because it was so windy – even if it was over a dress. We took about 20 minutes to take photos and enjoy the view before going to Cascais. Cascais is another area with shops and restaurants but the beach is also right nearby. Kim, Kari Ann, Marissa, and I ate at Luso, a cute restaurant with outdoor seating and live music. Kari Ann ate sword fish with vegetables and Kim, Marissa, and I all ate Fettuccine Alfredo.
After lunch, Kari Ann and Kim went to finish up some souvenir shopping while Marissa and I went to the beach. The water was bright blue and beautiful with boats sailing across it. Again, the water was FREEZING so we didn’t do anything more than a little toe dip. We laid in the sand and felt the hot sun on our skin. It was a little hard to enjoy because every time the wind blew sand went into our eyes.
After a couple hours, we hopped back on the tour bus and went back to Lisbon to rest up for our last group dinner, paired with a Fado show. At 7:45 p.m., we met in the lobby to depart for dinner. The restaurant was beautiful – dim lighting, pretty décor, and candle lit tables. Our dinner consisted of several courses – bean soup, appetizers, chicken and vegetables, and a flan dessert dish. I was so full by the end! During the dinner, a Fado show was put on but Portuguese singers. Fado music is very emotional and tells a story of something the singer went through or is going through. You can definitely see the deep emotion in the singers’ faces. The atmosphere became more cheerful by the end of the dinner, as the performers started dancing and singing happier tunes. Shortly after we finished eating, the performers came down into the audience and started interacting with the crowd. All of the sudden, a performer hands Kim and I this prop they were using on stage. At first, I thought he was just telling us to hold it. Then I realized he was telling us to get up and come to the stage. The next thing I know we’re dancing in a Portuguese Fado Show! We went around the stage a couple of times and they took our photo and then we went back to our seats. It happened so fast I couldn’t believe it, but it is definitely an experience I will never forget.
So here I am, sitting in the hotel, writing my blog like I have for the past 2 weeks. Now, it’s the last night of the trip and I have seen and learned so much in such a short period of time. Last semester, I scheduled for International Media on accident, not even knowing that there was a trip attached with the class. Who would’ve known that that mistake would have taken me on an adventure of a lifetime. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve gotten to experience in Spain and Portugal and have gained memories I will never forget.
Tomorrow we leave Lisbon at 10:30 a.m. Although I’ve had so much fun on this trip, I am ready to get back to Pittsburgh and see my friends, family, and boyfriend. I’m so excited to tell them all about my experiences here in Europe and give them the souvenirs I got them!