Visiting the Western Wall In Jerusalem, Israel

Although it may seem as though we had been traveling for weeks, we only spent three days and two nights in Barcelona, since our final destination was Israel. The most memorable part of our trip to Israel (besides seeing family members and loved ones) was our excursion to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. There is so much history and an overwhelming sense of spirituality as you walk around.

It is absolutely beautiful to be able to go to a place and pray to a higher power (or whatever one may believe in) and know that a countless amount of individuals travel here to do the same. We were lucky enough to come on a day where members of a certain sector of the Israeli army had completed their training, and were officially becoming members of the Israeli Defense Force. And as we walked around, the view of the surrounding area was breathtaking.

We had such a great time touring Lisbon Portugal, exploring Barcelona, Spain, and visiting various cities in Israel, especially Jerusalem. We were sad to return home and get back to the “real world,” but we have since been left with a lingering and exciting feeling of knowing we’ll be back on a plane traveling again soon—although for now, the destination is unknown!

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The Western Wall In Jerusalem, Israel

Barcelona, Spain: Night 1

After a long, but exciting day in Lisbon, Portugal, my sister and I hopped on another plane, and made our way to Barcelona, Spain. Although I studied abroad in Alcalá de Henares (near Madrid) for a summer semester during college, I didn’t have as much time to explore Barcelona as I would have liked. Ever since, I have always wanted to return to this beautiful city, and finally had the opportunity to do so.

Upon checking in to the hotel and dropping our things off in the room, my sister and I walked through the city to find a restaurant recommended to us by a local. On our way, we passed the immaculate Casa Battló, which will most definitely be discussed in an upcoming post.

When we finally found the restaurant, we didn’t waste any time! We ordered Spain’s famous patatas bravas (potatoes drizzled with a delicious aioli sauce), as well as fried calamari, sangria, and of course, seafood paella. The food was just what we needed after a long day of traveling, and it was the perfect way to start our adventures in Barcelona.

Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal: Part 4

Once we finished touring Castelo São Jorge, my sister and I had to make our way back to the city center, where we first began our excursion. From there, we would catch a local bus, which would take us back to the airport. As we walked through the Alfama once again, we came across another olden-day cathedral, but our best (and most delicious) find happened to be in the city center. We spotted Confeitaria Nacional—Lisbon’s oldest confectionery, dating back to 1829.

As my sister and I walked into Confeitaria Nacional, we were in awe of the assortment of pastries available on display. We had a difficult time making the decision of what to order, but one of the locals recommend that we try a Pastel de Nata—an egg tart pastry common in Portugal. It exceeded our expectations, and was the perfect treat to conclude our brief trip to Lisbon. As we savored every last crumb, the city bus arrived, and it was time for us to return to the airport and continue on our trip to Barcelona, Spain.

Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal: Part 3

After spotting the Igreja Santa Luzia, my sister and I continued walking through the Alfama district, until we came across the final destination of our walking tour—Castelo São Jorge.

“This castle was built by the Moors in the mid-11th century as a last defensive stronghold for the elite who resided on the citadel: the Moorish governor whose palace was nearby and the elite city administrators” (http://castelodesaojorge.pt). The castle was modified in the 13th century, and housed the first king of Portugal as well as many other members of the royal class.

In the late 1500’s, the castle served a military purpose, but renovation work had to commence after Lisbon experienced an earthquake in 1755 (http://castelodesaojorge.pt). As you can see in some of the pictures below, the castle offers beautiful panoramic views of both Lisbon and the Tagus River.

Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal: Part 2

After we left the Sé de Lisboa, we continued our journey until we reached the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. This lookout point is said to be the nicest in the Alfama area. From here, you can see traditional styled houses, the Tagus River, and the Igreja Santa Luzia. The views were truly breathtaking, and wherever you looked, there was something incredible to see.

Regarding the Igreja Santa Luzia, “The origins of this Church date back to the first years of Portuguese nationality, built in the 12th century, during the reign of the first Portuguese king, D. Afonso Henriques, by the knights of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and dedicated to São Brás, with defensive features as it was situated next to the town walls, on the eastern side of the town.

The present building, built over the previous temple, dates from the 18th century, with many alterations after the big destruction caused by the big 1755 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed a huge part of Lisboa.

The temple is characterized by its Latin cross plan and one-only nave, distributed by the main chapel, the transept and the nave, ten sepulchres in shape of gravestone and funerary monuments, classified as National Monument.

Also quite interesting are the two glazed tile panels signed in the historical Viúva Lamego ceramics factory, representing Lisboa with scenes of the conquest from the Moors in 1147and another one illustrating the Comércio Square before the big 1755 earthquake that forever changed the face of Lisboa” (www.getportugal.com).

 

Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal

As mentioned in a previous post, after our trip to Colombia, my sister and I traveled to Israel for a week to visit some of our family members who live there. On the way, we had plans to stop in Spain for a few days, and it just so happens that we were able to find a flight from Miami that stopped in Lisbon, Portugal for a few hours before continuing to Spain.

We arrived in Lisbon at around 5:00am, and had nearly ten hours to explore the city before having to return to the airport. After passing customs and dropping our suitcases off in a locker room, we hopped on the city bus that took us to the city center, nearly thirty minutes away from the airport. By the time we arrived to Praça de Comércio, also known as the city center, it was around 6:30am. Almost every store and restaurant were closed, and the only people on the streets besides us were store owners getting ready to open, people who were making their way back home after a long night, and street cleaners. We had what seemed like the entire city to ourselves, so naturally, we walked around and explored.

In preparing for the trip, I found a walking tour itinerary, so we followed the directions and began our tour. After walking through the city center, we made our way to the first stop, Igreja de Madalena which dates back to 1783, although it has a history that dates back centuries before. “This Church was founded in the 12th century, ordered by the first Portuguese king, D. Afonso Henriques in the 12th century, yet it has suffered many transformations over the centuries, namely in 1363 when it was quite destroyed by a big fire; in 1512 with other architectonic alterations; in 1600 was partially destroyed by a small cyclone; and with the big earthquake of 1755 was almost totally destroyed and rebuilt afterwards, maintaining some ancient elements, as well as several Lisboa’s buildings that wererebuilt after the big catastrophe” (www.getportugal.com).

From here, we walked down the street until we came across Igreja de San António, also from the 1700’s which was built atop what is said to be the saint’s birthplace. After walking around the church, we found Sé de Lisboa, which is Lisbon’s cathedral. Here, in Lisbon’s oldest building dating back to 1150, is where Saint Anthony was baptized and where the casket with the remains of St. Vincent, the official patron saint of Lisbon are located. (http://www.golisbon.com/sight-seeing/cathedral.html).

We were fortunate enough that by the time we made it to each particular site, the doors were just being opened for entrance. Our morning was off to an incredible start, as we were able to see so many beautiful sights, but this was only the beginning!

Snapshot Challenge Saturday

After our trip to Colombia, my sister and I traveled to Israel for a few days to visit family. However, before arriving at our final destination, we made a few stops along the way. I’ll post more about our travel adventures later on this week, but today’s Snapshot Challenge is a picture I took in Praça do Comércio, also known as the main square in Lisbon, Portugal. The area was beautiful, the weather was incredible, and we couldn’t have asked for a better sight to kick off our journey to Portugal, Spain, and Israel.

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