For years I've put off the classic European destinations, as I either felt they weren't exciting enough or I wanted to save those for when I was older. Aside from quick trips, the only exception I've made in western Europe was Portugal, and by golly was that a good choice. I'm a sucker for variety, and Portugal has it in droves: vibrant youth culture in Lisbon, surfing and stunning beaches along the coasts, the mystical fairytale escape of Sintra, and the old-world romantic charm of Porto - home of all Port wine. Portugal seems to be such a hidden gem among its more commonly visited neighbors, so a lot of my exploring was done with completely fresh eyes. It's easy to incorrectly assume what you'll experience in Paris for example, or London or Florence. But not a lot of people have preconceived notions of Portugal - I sure didn't, and I think that openness to anything made me fall in love with the country even more.