Where in the World is Danika?: Reflections from Lisbon

Danika Stelton | January 23, 2018

The end of the year- it's usually the time where you find yourself reflecting on the 11 months prior. What accomplishments were made? Did you lose those 25 pounds you set out to lose at the beginning of the year? Did you go on that trip you had been meaning to take every year? For me, this December was the exclamation point at the end of a huge year of change for me. Embarking on a year-long journey just two months prior with complete strangers to places all over the globe which my feet had never stepped foot on and my eyes had never had the pleasure of gazing upon. Month three also happened to be located in Lisbon…which quickly stole a piece of my heart.  And here’s just a few (of the many) reasons why:

Architecture
I like to describe the overall architectural vibe as..comfortably grungy. The streets are alive with vibrantly painted historically crafted buildings and uniquely designed tilework. Even though the buildings are pressed tightly against each other, their unique styles had somewhat of a harmonious effect on my psyche. The city is built on top of 7 (or more) rolling hills that not only helped build some serious leg muscles but also had such an effect on how beautiful the architecture looked from each peak.

Culture
I was particularly intrigued and inspired by the culture within Lisbon. Being riverside meant plenty of fisherman/water enthusiasts and tourists along the banks.  The pace of life was calm and not rushed. Each morning on my walk to the gym I’d observe the streetside business’ and coffee shops where the local men tended to gather in the street in their chairs and watch the daily passerby. I enjoyed getting lost and popping into the small shops which housed local artisans work and smelling the freshly baked pastries and loaves of bread just coming out of the oven. A local dish called Pastel de Nata was a dangerously delicious find that helped me grow more appreciative of those hills I had to work so hard to climb.

Tradition
Since it was December, the Holiday season brought a lot of mixed emotions along with it. Sure, I missed my family and the traditions that went along with this time of year, but I was pleasantly surprised by how festive Lisbon was. From the music to the lights to the markets, the holiday spirit was felt and appreciated. The traditional food was also something I really enjoyed. The Portuguese take such pride in their bread, olive oil, seafood, and wine. You can taste the passion and love that went into everything they prepared.

Portugal is definitely a place that I would love to explore more of in the years to come. A part of what I love most about the Remote Year program is you get just a small taste of each location, which leaves more to be seen and explored when that itch to travel starts to reach the surface again.