Sayegh Ventures Around Europe

Riley Sayegh Visits Portugal and France Over Spring Break

Photo by: Riley Sayegh
Riley Sayegh lounges outside of her hotel room in Lisbon, Portugal during her 2019 Spring Break trip.

Sophomore Riley Sayegh has always dreamed of visiting Europe, but she never imagined that her trip would take place during her sophomore year of high school. She expresses, “I always wished that this incredible trip would be for my honeymoon, not my sixteenth birthday. Honestly, I thought that I would never go to Europe.” As her sixteenth birthday present, she explored Paris, France, and Lisbon, Portugal, beginning on Friday, March 29, 2019, when she and her stepmother boarded a plane to Paris. After a layover in Iceland, which allowed her to witness a legendary Icelandic sunrise, Sayegh landed in Paris, where she met her cousin. Then, Sayegh, her cousin, and her stepmother traveled to Lisbon, Portugal.

Once in Lisbon, the group toured around the city and dined at a traditional Portuguese restaurant. On Saturday, Sayegh and her family rode in an open Jeep to the small town of Sintra. There, she visited the Quinta da Regaleira and hiked in the infamous Initiation Well through dark caves under the castle. The group finished their day playing on a Portuguese beach and enjoying a casual dinner. On Sunday, March 31, 2019, Sayegh and her family rode on a tuk tuk, a three-wheeled vehicle resembling a bus, around Lisbon while sightseeing. Then, they took a sailboat around Portugal, where they experienced the breathtaking view of the Portuguese skyline. Following the unforgettable sailboat ride, the group flew back to Paris, where they spent the rest of their vacation.

On her first day in Paris, Sayegh visited the Notre-Dame de Paris, a Gothic Catholic cathedral, where she climbed the steps and looked out over Paris. Then, she walked around a World War II Holocaust Memorial Museum, which she describes as “very powerful.” To cap off the day, the group visited Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore known for its extensive selection and series of rare books. At the bookstore, Sayegh posted a letter on the bookstore’s letter wall, home to hundreds of letters from people around the world. On Tuesday, Sayegh visited the Palace of Versailles; there, she viewed Napoleon Bonaparte’s quarters, the Hall of Mirrors, and the world-renowned gardens of Versailles. For her, the Palace of Versailles was “even bigger than the photos show” and “extremely pretty.” After Sayegh visited the Palace of Versailles, she walked to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, where she saw the Mona Lisa, which she described as “so overrated and tiny!” On their final day in Paris, the group visited the National Paris Opera House and then climbed the monumental Arc de Triomphe. Finally, Sayegh and her family visited the Moulin Rouge, which Sayegh describes as “super cool.” On April 5, 2019, Sayegh flew home after the trip of a lifetime.

Reflecting on her adventure, Sayegh remarks, “The best part of the trip was to be able to spend time with my family. I really enjoyed the boat ride around Portugal because it was relaxing, pretty, and I got to spend a lot of quality time with my cousin. My favorite place that we went was the castle in Sintra, where we were able to go on the Initiation Well Hike because it was so cool and so pretty.” This eye-opening and enjoyable vacation was one that Sayegh will definitely remember for the rest of her life.