Praia Do Farol in Milfontes, Portugal

December 31, 2019 Vila Nova de Milfontes, 7645 Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal

Southern Portugal is filled with stunning beaches featuring rocky cliffs overlooking sparkling salty water, sand banks that stretch for miles, and of course the colorful umbrellas of European tourists who have traveled across the continent to visit these renowned beaches.

This is the very first beach my family visited, as it was a short walk from our Airbnb in the town of Vila Nova de Milfontes. As can be seen by the photograph below, this beach was the most crowded of all we visited. Even so, if you walked far enough beyond the umbrellas of tourists, the beach stretched on for long distances with no tourists in sight.

Town of Vila Nova de Milfontes

December 30, 2019 Vila Nova de Milfontes, 7645 Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal

After we had sojourned in the city of Lisbon, my family drove south to Vila Nova de Milfontes, a small town a couple hours north of the Algarve, one of the most the frequented tourist destinations in Portugal. We stayed in a quaint but spacious Airbnb in the center of the town that was owned by an extremely sweet hostess and had two bedrooms, a small sitting room, a kitchen equipped with a fridge, stove, and washing machine, and a sunny balcony overlooking a small garden.

Though the town was quiet during the daytime, it was very lively and busy at night, as European tourists from outside of town gathered to dine at the variety of restaurants that offered delicious food yet maintained a casual and easygoing atmosphere as well as to shop the unique clothing and artistic goods sold at various boutiques.

Books I Read in 2019 (for pleasure)

December 29, 2019

With 2020 just around the corner, I thought I would share all of the books I read outside of school in 2019. I love to read, but it is very challenging during the academic year for me to find time to pursue such an interest. Even so, I made it a priority of mine to read as much as possible in 2019, completing most of my novels over the summer months when I had much more free time to pursue my passions.

Best Memories of 2019

December 28, 2019

I feel that often when reflecting on the past year it can be easy to simply focus on the negative aspects that we wish to change or rid ourselves of at the start of the new year. Creating these posts, however, allows me to appreciate the wonderful memories from the year and to feel a strong sense of gratitude for the people and places that brought me happiness. It instills in me a sense of excitement for the upcoming year and motivation to assure that the next year is even more eventful and joyful than the previous.

Best Memories of 2018

Panoramic Views of Lisbon, Portugal

December 26, 2019 Lisbon, Portugal

Below are a series of photographs taken from a hill in Lisbon overlooking the colorful rooftops of the city, the azure ocean water, and the famous Golden Gate look alike bridge, Ponte de 25 Abril. Though this blog post is very brief, I wanted to share these images because they truly showcase the beauty of the city of Lisbon and offer a unique, panoramic view compared to many of my other photographs.

Cascais, Portugal

December 24, 2019 Cascais, Portugal

After touring the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace in Sintra, we stopped in Cascais before taking the train back to Lisbon. My mom had visited Cascais around twenty years earlier when she was traveling in Portugal with a friend. She remembered Cascais as being quaint and quiet, and so was surprised to see how built up and developed it had become over the past two decades. Even so, Cascais maintained its former charm and natural beauty.

Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

December 23, 2019 Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal

Sitting gracefully atop a mountain amidst lush green trees surrounded by magnificent gardens, it is no wonder why Pena Palace is one of Portugal's most visited attractions. Its majestic red and yellow colors against the natural hue of the blue sky, architecture reflective of the Romantic era, and extravagant decor inside all succeed in luring in thousands of eager travelers. Unfortunately my family did not tour the inside of Palace, but even so the visit was worth it simply to see the colors and structure of the Palace as well as its stunning gardens. Learn more about the Pena Palace here.

Moorish Castle in Sintra, Portugal

December 22, 2019 2710-405 Sintra, Portugal

During our stay in Lisbon my family drove to Sintra to explore the Moorish Castle and renowned Pena Palace. Because both sites are so famed for their deep history, scenic views, and beauty, the queue to ascend the mountain was very long. Due to the multitude of pictures I took at each site, I chose to divide my photographs from the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace into two distinct blog posts.

The Moorish Castle was established by the North African Moors in the ninth century to defend the city of Sintra.  The castle features exquisite natural beauty and luscious plant life, winding pathways that zigzag across the mountain, a stunning view of both the city below as well as the Pena Palace sitting elegantly atop an even higher point on the mountain, and strong yet refreshing winds whirling through the crisp air.

Castelo de Sao Jorge in Lisbon, Portugal

R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa, Portugal

Castelo de Sao Jorge in Lisbon, Portugal, is a historic castle that was established by the Romans in 200BC. The castle's rich history, luscious greenery, and stunning views of the vibrant city and sparkling water below all contribute to allure of this site as a tourist attraction. If while visiting Lisbon you choose to visit Castelo de Sao Jorge, be prepared for beautiful views of Lisbon's colorful buildings, a possible peacock sighting, and lots of uphill walking.

Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal

December 19, 2019 Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa, 1400-206 Lisboa, Portugal

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is a monastery located in Belem in Lisbon, Portugal, and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Torre de Belem, located only a couple of miles away. Recognized as Portugal's most ornate and decorative monastery, this historic site is a must-see for anyone exploring the city of Lisbon. 

Torre de Belem in Lisbon, Portugal

December 18, 2019 Av. Brasília, 1400-038 Lisboa, Portugal

Portugal is filled with ornate monasteries and an array of exquisite historic sites, from Jeronimo's Monastery to the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace of Sintra.

During our stay in Lisbon my family drove to Tower de Belem, or Belem Tower, a tower built during the Portuguese Renaissance in the 16th century that acted as both a fortress and gateway to the city. Belem Tower, along with Jerónimo's Monastery located only two miles away, was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Airbnb in Lisbon, Portugal

December 2, 2019 Lisbon, Portugal

To kick off my series of blog posts from Portugal, I chose to share my photographs from the very first city we visited: Lisbon. In order to delve more deeply into the Lisbon's incredible beauty and vitality, I divided my photographs into a series of smaller posts, and so Part I of my travels in Lisbon focuses solely on where my family stayed in the city.

A Blog Makeover

As previously discussed in my last blog post, I originally planned to jump right into my Portugal series and share my photographs from my travels in Lisbon, Porto, and the other cities my family visited. However, I thought that I could not jump into my travel series without addressing a very noticeable change: my blog layout.

Since I have only been blogging for around three years and would still classify myself as a beginner seeing that there is still much for me to learn about web design as well as interpreting blog data and analytics, the simplistic and manageable layout of my blog was enough for me for the first couple of years of my blogging journey. However, over the past several months, I grew tired of the impersonal layout and knew it was time for an upgrade.

While my updated design is still fairly simplistic because I wanted it to be easily navigable, the layout is much more aesthetically appealing. The new layout also provided me with more opportunity to personalize my blog and transform it into a more lively, engaging, and colorful site as opposed to a static, impersonal one.

A Four Month Hiatus

December 1, 2019

It is crazy to think that I have been absent from my blog for an entire four months. The transition from the end of summer vacation to the beginning of my junior year of high school seemed to happen so fast, and so much has occurred over the course of the past few months.

Rather than deliver a tedious paragraph about four month my blogging hiatus and excuses as to why I've been absent, I wanted to share with you a recap of the past four months, from the conclusion of summer to the inception of my fall term of my junior year.