Updated: Jul 21, 2019
Where would you like to visit in Europe? Paris, Rome, London? I was actually thinking of Greece for this summer. Then the opportunity presented itself for me to attend an international convention with the theme "Love Never Fails" based on 1 Corinthians 13 known for being read at weddings. The potential destinations were intriguing. I was interested in Poland, Australia and Greece. I am, however, limited by my teaching schedule. So we signed up for Greece, Denmark, Portugal, France, and Spain. My friends and I were invited to Portugal.
I wasn't that excited if I'm being honest. I've been to Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome... Even though they are each uniquely beautiful and different, I sort of thought Lisbon (Lisboa in Portuguese pronounced Lish-bo-ah) would be more of the same. I couldn't have been more wrong. Paris is glamorous and perfect. Barcelona made me love Gaudi. It is exotic, artistic and whimsical. Rome is big and clunky but ancient and I saw the Coliseum!
Somebody told me that Portugal is the third safest country in the world. I believe that. It is calm, peaceful and unpretentious. The people are kind, some of the friendliest and most helpful I've met. The country makes me feel cared for and loved. It sounds mean to say it isn't the most beautiful place I've ever been. But it's not. And I'm not being mean. There is something special about it. Portugal is like a good friend, beautiful in its own way. I love it!
It may be silly to say that Lisbon is old. It is Europe. But it is different. There is a mix of new and old. Paint is peeling, walls are faded into patina and there is graffiti, a surprising amount in fact, especially in the steep lanes where the yellow trolleys climb. And lots of huge apartment buildings in the city like one expects in New York. Buildings are sometimes covered on the exterior with azulejo- often colored blue or patterned tile that enriches the street and making it uniquely Portuguese.
The food may be the best I've ever had! Fresh seafood and garlic steaks are popular. Served in large portions with rice, French fries and vegetables we Americans can appreciate but makes one wonder why the Portuguese are so skinny? For the usual reason, I guess: Their food is better quality and they walk way more than we do. I tried the Port which is bit sweet for my palate. I sampled delicious red wines from the Douro Valley, whites and greens! Vinho verde is young wine from the north which is chilled and refreshing. You could easily mistake it as a white.
I tried something called percebes (per-seb-sht) which I was told means to understand. I made a little video as I was tasting where I said, "But I don't understand what I am eating." Then I learned that percebes are barnacles! Goose barnacles to be precise and they look like crusty old toenails. But don't let that stop you.
Stay tuned. Portugal pictures are definitely coming!