It’s always fun to go places you know nothing about. Everything surprises you. Childlike wonder in seeing the world and how amazing it is for the first time. Joy from the simplest things.
I went in to Portugal with this infancy-like blindness.. no expectations, only the promise of its awesomeness from everyone I’d talked to who’d been.
As a nanny, it always surprises me to see how funny sounds can be to babies. Next time you see an infant just repeat a consonant sound to it (i.e. “ba ba ba ba”) and tell me that baby doesn’t give you a smile.
Portuguese is a lovely language. I found myself marveling at its most common words. I swooned every time someone said Obrigada to thank me, or told me to take the Amarela subway line. When you’re hearing these sounds and figuring out what they mean for the first time it makes you deeply appreciate language.
I can’t believe I’ve never realized how much traveling makes you feel like a kid again. No wonder I love it so much. I have spent my entire adult life surrounding myself with children because they astonish me over and over again. The joy they get from learning new things and seeing their worlds for the first time- it gives me the most fundamental kind of happiness. Traveling puts you back in that place of discovery and amazement. It is life at its simplest and, synchronously, its most awe inspiring.
And that is exactly what Lisbon did to me. The mosaic stone streets are lucky they’re so beautiful because it disguises their slippery, lethal objective. Traversing the hilly, lacquered city is a true test of balance. Not to mention full-force-tripping in front of hundreds of strangers a day can really make you check your pride at the hostel door. At least when one of us stumbled the other person fell down laughing anyways.
In spite of the booby trapped streets everything about Lisbon was perfect. Every building was either painted the most beautiful pastel hue and/or tiled in gorgeous painted Azulejos. No matter where you were it was never more than a short hill climb to panoramic views: orange rooftops all neatly bordered by the Atlantic.
Cascais (about an hour up the coast from Lisbon) was one of the most adorable cities I have ever seen. Similar to Lisbon but quainter and cradled by cliffs that give immeasurable value to a couple of inches.
We managed to try 2 of Portugal’s delicacies: “pastel de nata” which is a custard egg tart and codfish cake. Both “oh my god, yum” worthy. Whoever tried it first couldn’t wait to shove it in the other’s mouth so they could experience it too.
I also had my first formal introduction to Vinho Verde. It was vastly different to what I normally like but I’m learning when something is unique to a region it tends to be phenomenal. The “green wine” is slightly effervescent, crisp, tart, and incredibly young- it’s meant to be sipped shortly after it’s corked.
Speaking of sipping. It wouldn’t be fair to the world if I didn’t mention the best cocktail I have ever had. A red frog sat on top of a buzzer on a random wall we wandered upon. We learned it belonged to a speakeasy (thanks Google) and decided to give it a shot that night. I ordered a whiskey drink called “The Illusion” that came in a smoke scented wooden box. It tasted phenomenally magical.
Just like a child when it’s time to leave a toy store, I wanted to throw a tantrum when it was time to say Ciao to Portugal. Three days was only enough to spark a passion for this country where I can watch the sun set, instead of rise, over the Atlantic waters I grew up in. The stunning Azulejos, buttery language, spunky wine, and beautiful, albeit treacherous, streets and cliffs. Portugal, eu sei que vou voltar.