First of all, I would like to make you understand that it takes no effort at all to fall in love with Portugal, and second of all, here is why I have fallen in love with this beautiful place.
To me, Portugal somehow still remains in the 20th century which is excellent because this is my time, the time when I grew up, and it certainly made me feel at home instantly.
Here, older women still wear dark colored scarves on their heads, and they all appear to have had some horrible things happen to them. Their look is always of dismay. Maybe it’s the black scarves, but happiness is not a look you’ll see in their faces here. Their look seems to be telling me that the world owes them big time; oh well, that’s how they look to me.
As I traveled about,
there seemed to be a lot of the older generation everywhere. Whatever happened to the all the young folks? Have they all left; have they all taken up residence in Vietnam? Just wondering? Don’t get me wrong, I like that everything here is a lot older than me, especially the historical buildings. And those Saints! There’s saints are everywhere, and they get celebrated in just about every month of the year. The Catholic church is having a field day here. You know me, I’m not trying to be smug or anything, but I grew up in Catholic Austria where the church was everything, dominating and interfering but that is another story.
Back to Portugal. Tourists are flocking to this inexpensive European gem. The fish here is fresh (most of the time), and cod, Bacalhau, is their national dish (caught off the shores of Newfoundland). Also, they certainly do know how to prepare OCTOPUS.
I have never tasted anything like this; it melts in your mouth without moving your jaw. I admit I do have an addiction. SALADA DE POLVO is killing me! Also, the prawns here are not farmed, and size does make a difference.
BEWARE OF DINING OUT. You have to watch out for those little goodies that appear on your dining table in any restaurant. The cheese and bread with the array of olives are not complimentary. It’s called “get the average bill up.“ When dealing with tourists, there are many restaurateurs here that could learn from this free little tidbit of information.
Another free little tidbit for you is often when you pay your bill in a restaurant, you almost always get your change back in coin, loads of coins, and in this way you’ll tip more! Also, credit cards are not that popular in those tiny, little authentic Ma & Pa places that I frequented.
Here is another tidbit for you;
No matter how low the daily temperature is, everyone sits outside in the cafes. The café will get you blankets and heaters as long as you sit outside. Now you are definitely being “cool!”
Well, being cool and sitting outside might also have something to do with their apartments too. The apartments here are not the standard size of North American apartments. Our 1000 square foot condos would hold a family of 10 at least, including grandma with the black hanky on her head and the sad look to go with it. I’d be looking sad as well. These apartments are the size of my bathroom at home, a total of 300 square feet. But, it’s incredible what they can put into them, and most of the time you will even find washing machines too. The bathroom sink is the size of my large stewing pot at home but really what do we need? And the shower, well, my smart car is significantly bigger.
Ah, and there is another thing that I do not understand.
What’s up with those f*&@# cobblestone sidewalks and streets? My toes bled the moment I set foot on those (f*&@#) streets. Did I mention that all roads go up and only downhill when you are no longer able to put one foot in front of the other? What’s up with that kind of punishment? I understand that the Moors (Arabian medieval evil people) started all this a long time ago but really, do you need to keep punishing generation after generation?
Fado music is everywhere, especially in Lisbon. In case you don’t know what Fado is, it is the national wailing music sung by very talented female and male singers. An extraordinary sound comes out of the deepest of the deepest throats and tells you everything that has ever been done to them. Let me tell you, every possible emotion of sadness and unhappiness comes out of those throats in Portuguese and even if you can’t understand a bloody thing, you know it’s not happy. You walk away feeling as if all of that Portuguese unhappiness is deep inside you, which makes you head straight for the next taverna, for that cool glass of vino Verde with its instant burst of sunshine in your mouth.
The Portuguese do not export their fantastic tasting wines,
mainly because they drink it all and there’s nothing left to ship. That’s also one of the reasons why they have all these monuments everywhere; it’s to find your way home after a night of drinking. My problem is, I can never remember if it was St. Pedro, St. Louis, St. Henrique, Fernando or was it Paco?
One other thing that I noticed too, is the fact that their day does not begin before 10 am, which is a problem for me as I like my coffee the minute I wake up, about 6 am! Then, their lunch goes on till 3, after which they all go bye bye and don’t reappear till 8 pm. I’m hungry by 5, so this means that by going out for dinner at 8 pm, I have to change back from my jammies into a dinner outfit. And in reality, eating dinner at 9 pm is almost like eating an early breakfast for me!
I am trying to get with the locals,
but it seems I’m not doing so well. So, I went out and got myself a black scarf, because now I have a reason to be wailing and looking miserable. Have I now become a local?