Hi to you. I’ve just returned from Portugal. I’ve been dreaming about that place for years, ever since I saw a picture of Lisbon—a whitewashed and red-roofed city tumbling down to the sea.
The place/experience/trip was epic as hoped. Sure, I submitted some formal complaints to the ether about airports, customs, and all the rude dickheads throughout. The shitty plane food. The hours of standing in line, as we all must, to fly somewhere. But physical acts of traveling aside, Portugal was, as they say, dreamy. Magnificent empty beaches. Tidy blue-and-white buildings. Olives. Bread. Wine. Sunshine everyday, everywhere, all the time.
A note about “tourism”: Personally, I travel somewhere for the there-ness. With the exception of Lisbon, Portugal was delightfully un-touristy, and, for that matter, un-crowded. We had room to breathe—really see/feel/taste what was going on in the place. This led to 2 realizations: 1) the U.S. is very crowded, and 2), the tourism industry kind of benefits the economy at the expense of the culture. Like, AirBnB brings in money, but it displaces people. I mean, the fairytale jalopy buildings of old-town Lisbon were filled, not with Portuguese people, but rather with foreigners who, like us, were Air-BnBing their way through the country. Truth be told, I peeped anti-AirBnB graffiti all around the city. I’m not sure exactly what I think. Big ups to considering yourself (like I try to!) a Traveler vs. a Tourist—but I came home with a gloomy feeling that the cultural spirit of a community is a lot more fragile than we think.
Medieval fortifications overlooking the sea. All the Portuguese castles had that sickest ocean views. “Easier to defend,” the ancients claimed, but we all know the real truth …
The pretty beaches in Peniche with the nicest little waves. Here is were I went surfing, bravely but poorly.
We took a wee day trip to Porto, a city in the North (where, obvi, port wine was born). I loved this place. It’s fairly untouched by time. Basically, you’re on the set of a Shakespeare at all times.
Medieval stairmaster! See ya, vacation calories.
Porto azulejos. Painted tile game on point.
Sundown on my birthday in Ereicera. Gold star emoji on this scene right here!
Palace hunting in Sintra. Yep, another castle with an epic view.
As a settlement, Lisbon has been around for 3,000-odd years. I’m a student of history, and I was super in awe of the cultural and archaeological mishmash. Phoenicians. Romans. Visigoths. Moors. Celts. Christians. See the pic below—it’s all layered in there like a cake!
Cotton candy sunsets in Lisbon, as seen from our attic apartment.
Stone-cold sightseers. Behind us, a statue of a prince, Lisbon city center, and the Tejo river. Got it? Got it. Now let’s all go drink a beer.
After a laborious week of avoiding octopus tentacles out in the fishing villages, we came into city and our veggie-minded stomachs were rewarded.
No-fucks-given parking situations everywhere you turned your head.
Ciao Portugal! Obrigado.