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Portugal

Alina Ruppel
December 13, 2016
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On October 14, 2016, a group of 36 Badgers and friends from across the country set out for Portugal to have an adventure. AHI’s tour allowed us to discover the country from north to south, with plenty of exciting stops along the way.

We started in Porto with our first history lecture, followed by a tour of the city with our wonderful tour guides, Philomena and Paula. We were introduced to beautiful, hand-painted tile work — variations of which we would continue to see throughout our trip.

Next we took a trip to Guimarães to explore a medieval castle and all of its gorgeous, vaulted ceilings and elaborate tapestries. We enjoyed lunch in a lovely spot that gave us a great chance to get to know each other. Then we took a winding drive through Braga (thank you for your impressive driving, Ruben) to the Bom Jesus sanctuary. Some courageous travelers took the stairs up while the rest of us enjoyed a tram ride.

The off-and-on rain did not dampen our winery experience the following day. We started with a tour during which we learned about port and had a chance to do some taste testing. The picturesque boat ride on the Douro River was the perfect follow-up.

The next day we departed for Lisbon, but not before stopping in Coimbra and Obidos. The University of Coimbra was very impressive — particularly the library — and Obidos is a striking, walled city boasting beautiful, white structures with bright, primary-colored accents.

Our first full day in Lisbon began at the historic coaches museum, where we saw beautifully preserved and elaborate coaches from Portugal’s history. After some maneuvering from our bus driver, Ruben, we made it to the Tower of Belem. The foggy day gave it an air of mystery. We wrapped up the Lisbon tour at the awe-inspiring Jeronimos Monastery. That night we experienced an intimate fado dinner that gave us a glimpse into Portuguese culture. The music was beautiful, emotive, and enticing, even if we couldn’t understand the words.

Our final excursion day took us to Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril. The castle in the romantic village of Sintra was a great mix of Moorish and Renaissance influences. Lunch on the bay was a highlight for all: the food was delicious and most likely caught that day!

The graduation ceremony and farewell dinner gave us the perfect opportunity to reflect on the adventures we had experienced together. We were so fortunate to have had the leadership throughout our trip of AHI travel director Paula Afonso Fernandes, who was passionate, humorous, and extremely knowledgeable!

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