Day 58: I can't believe this day is here

So today was my last day at the embassy. Tomorrow I fly away, back to the US, and so, this will likely be my last blog post for a while! But nonetheless, I'll try to add a lot of photos.

Today at lunch we had a farewell gathering, and I was sad to realize amid all the goodbyes this summer, this one is actually mine. It was bizarre. But I got everyone's email and they'll be anxiously waiting to hear if I get in to the Foreign Service in 2 years' time.

Then, after work, there was a Mid-level professional development outing to a bar in Lisbon, and the interns were invited to come. It was the fanciest bar I'd ever seen (on a roof, overlooking Lisbon), and the drinks were pretty darn expensive. However, the company and the views made it a worthwhile outing.

Thanks to Giscard from the Econ section for taking these photos with and of me! :)

The whole crew at the bar--pity I can't keep my eyes open for photos.

The women interns and Fellows and FSOs! I'm proud to be part of such a funky group.

Then, Sebastiao and I rambled out, cracking jokes about the bourgeoisie in the fancy elevator before heading downtown to pick up some Pastel de Nata for me to take home. It felt weirdly like my last night in China, where I stayed up far too late and did far too much, and received far too much weight to my luggage. Here's hoping it's okay.

I enjoyed the views of Rossio and heard Sebastiao's fun facts for the last time this summer: "on this street, students at my university shout at this building "hire me!" even though it is empty, because it is a tradition", and "that theatre was built by that German guy you like ( prince Ferdinand)'s wife, Mary II, and that's a statue of her father, Peter IV. They love him in Brazil" and "see that space there? it used to hold a statue of king Sebastiao, but tourists were drunk one night and destroyed it by climbing it and shaking it" and so many more. I could listen to him for ages. How does one person know so much, simultaneously, about everything? I don't even feel that bad asking him random "why" questions about Lisbon because he legitimately knows the answer and is happy to share!

The theater built by Queen Mary II

The beautiful Rossio train station, with a center enclave where king Sebastiao used to be

Restauradores (Peter IV the Restorer because he won the portuguese civil war against his brother Michael the absolutist, thus restoring Portugal to its former glory. Then he handed Portugal to his daughter Mary II and moved back to Brazil.)

I will miss him and everyone else.

Much love!

Day 57: Dinner at the Residence!

Tonight Ana and I cooked for the house--an american dinner, complete with country music and a red-white-and-blue chocolate chip cookie cake.

I made buffalo chicken casserole, which was actually a big hit (although it made everyone sweat because it has a bit of a bite).

Then we did some jiving!

I will miss these folks a lot.

I bought a lot of the ingredients--the pringles, the doritos, the ranch and the buffalo sauce--at the Naval Exchange store on the compound. It was kinda silly.

Much love!

Day 56: Cascais and Cabo da Roca

Today started off at home: I did laundry, I prepped dough for a cake for tomorrow, and I even cleaned my room.

Then I packed my bag and went off to meet some of the other interns for lunch in Lisbon (at 100 Montaditos, the last time and perhaps also the best time--I will miss these folks) before our planned trip to Cascais and Cabo da Roca!

Cascais was really cool and extremely vacation-y: it felt like Lisbon, but hotter and more intensely for tourists, like some parts of Mexico can be.

The whole crew + Genevieve, a former summer hire at the embassy (and daughter of someone working there)!

Many many fishing boats!

and a full beach!

We stumbled upon this park --and the rooster below.

More Azulejos

....the greatest form of flattery.... ;)

Then we made our way along the coast (on foot, sorry Brianna) to Boca do Inferno (or, as we also called it: "the devil's a**hole" for reasons unknown but maybe there was some miscommunication involved).

Walking along the ocean made me feel like I was in some sort of crazy dream where I was transported into a postcard or something--the water was so blue and it was amazing weather (though a little hot).

The Boca do Inferno was a little underwhelming after all of the outlook points that were considerably less crowded, but the cave was pretty cool. I can see why people wanted to take drones up here, though.

After that, we walked back to the city center and enjoyed an amazing meal at an Indian restaurant recommended to us by Michael's boss Dave. Honestly, the best restaurants have been on his recommendation, and he hasn't been wrong yet. I don't know how he does it! I did try some Nimbu Panni (which the waiter warned me not to order because it's 'different') and it was kinda nasty. it's like salty water with lemon in it. However, the other interns all bravely tried it and politely took more than just a tasting sip--which made me feel a lot better.

Then we went to the Westernmost Point in Continental Europe! Cabo da Roca! I can't describe how glorious it was--and here are pictures that don't do it justice. ahhghhgghh. But, it was good I brought a jacket and a windbreaker, because it was rather chilly up there--and super windy.

The non-intern on the photo is Luis, the Portuguese Uber driver that took half of the crew up to Cabo da Roca. He had never been, so we invited him to enjoy the sunset with us, and he did! it was crazy but he was super sweet! I can now also say that I've been inside the Uber car before the request to the app is even made. After spending about an hour at the point and taking photos and chatting, four of us joined him in his car as he opened up his driver's app for Uber and we placed a request (FROM WITHIN THE CAR). I don't think that's ever going to happen to me again. It was an awesome uber ride.

Anyway, it was a glorious day. My head is still flashing with all the vast sights and colors and the roar of the ocean. The sunset at Cabo da Roca made me feel some sense of closure, though, that I can't really describe.

Much love!

Day 55: A day of Adventure! a 32-km loop around Lisbon.

Today I did a lot--and quite a bit of walking, though not 32 kilometers. It was driven by this strong desire to "do things before I leave", which I know is kind of silly since I know I'll come back some day, but on the other hand--there is so much to see and do here. I love this town and I feel very integrated into it--I can name the neighborhoods and give directions (albeit in english).

Anyways, today I went with a coworker (not really an intern, not really a foreign service officer yet--she's a Presidential Management Fellow working in the State department) to the St. jeronimo's Monastery and Church. They were overwhelming and large and beautiful.

The ornate-ness is the Manuelian style of Architecture. More than that, I don't really know.

Also: shout out to Sebastiao (I hope you're reading this).

Enough said. <3

After spending about an hour and a half dooting around the monastery and chatting, Lilli and I went to this tile store that I had read about online and Laura's mom raved about. I needed some small souvenir, after all ;). The store's name is Fabrica Sant'Anna, and I really strongly recommend everyone goes there instead of buying the tiles found in antique stores and flea markets and used things stores, because tiles are going missing off of buildings in Lisbon and the tourist hunger for cheap authentic tiles is to blame. But the thing is, you don't need to fund the destruction of 100+ years of cultural heritage when there are stores like Sant'Anna that have been producing and selling tile--in this case, since 1741! Note: I'm not sponsored by this store, I was just so enchanted by it and so dismayed to read about all the tile that goes missing in Lisbon.

Then we met up with Brianna and Michael for some lunch at my favorite Ramen place in Baixa, Panda Cantina. I had the ice jelly again. :) (see Day 18's post for photos of that).

Afterwards, we made our way to the much-contested-but-overall-clear-winner of the "best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon" contest. Some say it's the ones in Belem. Others insist it's these ones, from Manteigaria. I like these a lot--and there's much less of a hassle to get them. But, admittedly, I've not had the others--I've merely looked at the crowd of people swarming the store in Belem and cringed. The cool thing about Manteigaria is that you can watch the process for making the pastries through the glass window as you eat them. I had the quintessential afternoon snack--2 pastries and an espresso. Man, I will miss these.

After that, the plan was to split up--I would go meet Laura and Lucas somewhere to go accross the river for the afternoon/evening, and the others would go back to their apartment to rest. Instead, we all collided in the Subway station, which was fun, because we planned tomorrow's adventure!

(yay! a blurry subway selfie! nothing like it ;) )

Then we did indeed split up, and Laura, Lucas, and I took the public transportation Ferry across the river Tagus to Cacilhas! It was exciting to watch Lisbon zoom out--but that's also when the emotions started to hit. This small, red-roofed city is where I've spent the last 2 months, and I've had some of the most amazing adventures and done a job that I've loved.

Shout out to Lucas who insisted on getting this photo--and it's by far my favorite from today because it captures my unfettered joy at riding a BOAT! tee hee!!!

A view of the 25th of April (the day of the end of the Portuguese Dictatorship--a very important day) Bridge that I'll likely not get again. :)

Laura, Lucas and I then meandered along the coast of the Tagus, stopping at viewpoints and gift shops and just generally making our way over to the Christo Rei statue. We rode a panoramic elevator up and down--twice. We took glamour tourism and romantic photos. It was truly wonderful. My stomach and heart were full--I just also felt so heavy. "This will all be memories soon" was my internal monologue. But it was still so fun.

Cacilhas is adorable too.

I envy this tile collection--especially after seeing the prices at Sant'Anna today! yikes yikes yikes

The structure you see there (the vertical grey one) is the free panoramic elevator. :)

Photo credit for the flower picture goes to Laura <3

Then we made it to the statue, which was really big. We didn't really want to take the elevator up and it was closing soon anyway, so we explored what looked like the newly-renovated grounds and enjoyed the views of Lisbon.

I really feel like Mama--the magic of self timer. I'm so used to this camera's self timer, but I'm not used to the running, haha.

Getting back to the bus stop was an adventure--the first true failure of google maps that I've experienced. It had us going downhill through private property on a washed out dirt goatpath. We found a different route instead. :)

Laura and Lucas are truly a wonderful couple and amazing people individually. I am struck by how happy all of our conversations are and how much they make me smile after we say goodbye. They're the sort of people that leave you glowing on the inside.

Then I went home, cooked some lentils and fried an egg, and wrote up this blog! I'm trying to use up my ingredients haha. I also entered all of my locations today into google maps and calculated that I traveled in a large loop, about 32 kilometers long, today!

Much love!

Day 54: the Final Intern Dinner

Well, it's friday again, so what did we expect?

We went to the hotel that some of the interns are staying at, which has a rooftop pool. This time, I got photos.

It was amazing and beautiful and I started to feel rather nervous about leaving. There's a lot to manage before then.

After some (mandatory) selfies in the elevator, the seven of us decided to go through with the plan to make veggie burgers.

It was a bit of a disaster--there were people grating burnt toast to make breadcrumbs, there was hand drying of the black beans, there was an enourmous amount of salad, but most importantly: there was passion fruit soda.

In the end, the burgers turned out okay--nothing incredible because veggie burgers are hard!

I don't know if Brianna's instagram is public--but if it's not, here is the link to the "stories" she posted about the experience.

Anyhow, it's late and I have plans for tomorrow! Much love!


Day 53: Politics and bookstores, Politics and Quesadillas

Today was a weird day at work because I arrived two hours late--I woke up with a splitting headache and I couldn't really move my head. Though it's better now I'm going to keep this short so that I can get enough sleep. Anyway, I finished some projects and had a delightful lunch with the interns. I will miss them so much. I know I take long lunch breaks--sometimes even longer than an hour, but that's an accident--but I just love these people so much. Everyone has so much to say and we have so much to laugh about together.

Anyway, after work I went with one of the other interns to a used book store, which was lovely. There were some awesome old books and I practiced reading portuguese from the backs of covers. I usually miss all of the nuance but can pick out the nouns that I know, and the cognates. Sebastiao, the intern I was with, was super nice and patient as I bumbled around the store, and he stuck around while I looked through a bunch of archival prints of old maps and sketches of Lisbon. He even stuck around after the shopkeeper thought we were husband and wife. hehe.

Then we walked up to my metro stop, but when we got to the intersection where our paths would split, we stayed there and talked for a long time about a variety of things--everything from capitalism to the April 25th Revolution to the political parties to other gossip. When we finally did part ways I was struck by how much he reminds me of what I love most about college: long conversations that seem like they could go on forever because both people have so much desire to share and listen. Anyway. It was a bit to late to then do my laundry, so I just went home and cooked dinner.

At home, I chatted with my housemates as we each ate our respective meals, sharing ingredients and swapping stories here and there, and this peace that comes from being listened to and listening to others and where they're coming from is so wonderful. I don't want to go back to my "real" life with application deadlines and responsibilities and the weight of the semester hanging over me. Here, I can just talk with people for as long as we want about the untenable political problem of Climate Change or call a housemate who is out partying (and quite drunk) or say all the french words we can think of. But at the same time, I miss home. I know this weekend will go fast--and I don't know if I want to speed it up or slow it down. I'm so mixed about this.... I don't know.

Much love!


Day 52: Intern Lunch and Sushi dinner!

Today the interns had lunch with Patrick, first secretary of the embassy and consul general of the U.S. embassy Lisbon. He and his husband Rami have been so amazingly kind to me and the other interns, and it was amazing to hear his career path over lunch today, as well as his perceptions of how the foreign service has changed since he joined in 2004. Especially for gays. It was really interesting, and I am very grateful for the ability to listen to someone speak so openly about their experiences.

Then, after work, I cooked the chicken I bought a few days ago for use over the next few days. I hope to bring some to lunches at work and use some in a quesadilla tomorrow night.

After that, though, Laura and I had been planning to go to this Sushi place recommended to me by a housemate in the neighborhood of my apartment. So Lucas, Laura and I enjoyed something along the lines of 3 hours of sushi buffet (where you order what you want but it can be an endless stream), which was wonderful. Laura and Lucas are a delightful couple and very fun-loving. I've never hung out with a couple my age that fills me with so much joyous energy afterwards--I replay the conversations and they are so marvelous and funny and romantic and perfect for one another. I am so glad to be a somewhat witness to their relationship at this stage (the "fiance stage", ;) )


The sushi was good, too, considering the price of the buffet, so the value was good for what we had paid.


There were a lot of rolls that I was surprised by--like banana rolls with coconut and strawberry sauce, or a roll covered in beet-stained rice so that it was pink!


Anyway. It was a lovely night and I'm starting to see the time pass me by like crazy. Only one more week! Crikey! much love!

Day 51: Demarches and Syrian food!

Today I went with a colleague to the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to learn about how a Demarche (a fancy word for instructions from Washington) is delivered. It's a list of talking points that are usually summarized and paraphrased in a conversation. It was fun! I learned that the Necesidades palace (the pink one near the park with all the cacti in it) is, in fact, the Ministry, which is why the palace isn't publicly open to tourists. But it was an educational time!

Then, after work, the interns went out for a dinner at a syrian restaurant run by resettled refugees. It was incredible food, and incredibly touching to hear how much our--the interns'--work meant to our supervisors. I'd never had Syrian food before, but Stephanie said it was her favorite kind of middle eastern food, and honestly, I can see why. From the appetizers to the dessert--it was amazing. I am going to have to learn.

Anyway, it's late! Much love!

Day 50: Banana Cinnamon rolls and Shakshuka

Today at work I continued my cables and caught up with friends at work. It's a weird feeling, knowing that this is my last full week and soon this life as I know it will only be a memory. But that sounds dramatic so I stop those sorts of thoughts there-ish.

We--the interns in pol/econ--were then invited to the Public affairs office to enjoy some homemade banana cinnamon rolls--courtesy of Rami. He's honestly too good to us all. But it was hard not to have a tiny, tiny bit of section envy as all the Pub Affairs interns share an office, with lots of snacks and music and photo editing going on. My big desk on the quiet zone of the Pol/Econ section seems lonely, but honestly, I do need the quiet to work. I moved desks today and I immediately removed the two clocks in the office because their ticking was loud and off-beat from one another. Lisbon and DC time are important to me but I really can't deal with the ticking. Anyhow. Here are the glorious rolls!

After work I got groceries. I made Shakshuka for dinner--this time, enough for two days--and it was a very picturesque success. I love shakshuka and it's so easy and ~fairly~ healthy and I don't know eggs with tomato and spice on toast is just wonderful. I also tried some pink tonic from schweppes as a consolation prize for not getting orange juice--the machine that pulverizes the oranges and makes fresh squeezed juice is gone! I don't know where it went! it causes me some sorrow but I'll check back tomorrow, as well as in another store.

Then, after dinner, I uploaded photos and made a blog post for the weekend-- (  ) which embarrassingly took 2 hours. Nonetheless, the blog is something I've been looking back on more and more, and it does bring me joy to see at a glance what I've been up to. I don't know--do I really have that poor of a memory?

I love shakshuka and I love living here! yeey! Here's to another great day tomorrow!

Much love!

Days 48 & 49: Braga and Porto, the master post

So in light of the fact that last night I really didn't have time to even look at my photos, tonight I will be posting everything from this weekend. :) later tonight I'll make a post for day 50, but for now, please enjoy these photos!


The backyard of Rodrigo, my amazing host, where we shared our meals. Rodrigo's family was so kind and his hospitality to Michael and I was truly mind-blowing. I'm so grateful to him for everything.

Our day started by riding this water powered Funicular: instead of CLIMBING the 1,000 steps up to the Bom Jesus do Monte church, we rode this crazy car thing. there are two cars, connected by a cable and a wheel at the top of the hill. Each car has a massive cavity underneath where water is filled in at the top and emptied at the bottom. The down-going car thus pulls the other car up as gravity takes hold and the brakes are released. It is much faster than I thought it would be.

The beautiful grounds of the newly-named UNESCO world heritage site

The artificial cave reminded me a bit of Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra... what is it with the Portuguese and their fake stalactites?

The inside of the glorious pilgramage site. It had a life sized crucifixtion site with a bunch of people around--which, of course, I neglected to take a photo of because I was too busy trying to see if the people were real or not (they were pretty lifelike)

An awesome view of Braga

The stairs we climbed down, not up, because we had a very knowledgeable and prudent guide. Rodrigo was full of fun secrets ("the tourists don't know that you can park here, but I know that I can! I talked to the police!")


I'll never tire of the way the ground looks here, either...

The bold crew!

Then we walked around Braga!

The city hall

The arch-bishop's palace and the Santa Barbara gardens that are adjacent to it.

See the woman in the smurf hat on the left? She was part of a crew of 8 (seven dwarfs and a bride) who were on a mission to take as many selfies with tourists as possible on their bachelorette party. There are so many here--it's wild.

"a dragon! for no reason" lamented Rodrigo. I thought it was cool.

The backside of the cathedral.

Lunch--Frigideira, or a buttery pastry filled with ground meat. It's small-looking but SO FILLING


Portugal's first capital!

There was a castle and a palace!


We took some photos--and I had to say goodbye to Scott, Rodrigo's family's adorable Westy. Alas.

Then we went to Porto!

After the fiasco at the Bookstore Livraria Lello (google image search it--it's awesome but the line went DOWN THE BLOCK), we visited some iconic churches.

I listened to organ music for the first time.

After lunch, we went down to the seafront and the famous bridge. We crossed into Gaia, chatted and perused the stores of Port wine (see the port boats!), and then crossed back. We then hiked back up to the city center--seeing key sites such as the famously beautiful McDonalds, the Amazing Sao Bento Train station, and others along the way.

We then went to my favorite part of Porto thus far--the cathedral. We could even climb up one of the towers!!! It was so beautiful.

Then we sat in the grass and had to say goodbye, and Michael and I made our way back to Lisbon.

I know this was a lot of photos--if you made it all the way here.... good job! ;)

Much love!