“What do I love about Portugal?”: One sentence… 500 words
“What do I love about Portugal?” is a question that I get asked over and over again, and to which I give a different answer over and over again.
As a Travel and Food Blogger, who spends his time visiting foreign countries, tasting all kinds of different cuisine and listening to people saying what makes their own country the greatest, I need to be very creative when it is my turn to say what I love about Portugal. What I have written below is the answer I gave, when asked this very question at a recent Travel conference.
So, I was asked to speak about Portugal and what I love more about it…Well… This is what I could come up with…
I love to dream that I was once a great Portuguese Discoverer and that the whole world was under my command, to think that my sailing ship is still moored outside waiting for me, to know that Portugal is neither part of Spain nor a province of Spain, to wake up to 300 days of bright sunlight and think that I will have an espresso and a Nata pastry for breakfast, to get out of bed and put my comfy slippers on (the ones that my grandmother handmade for me), to go to the window and say hello to the baker who has just delivered a bag of fresh bread to the neighbour, to hear some Fado by Amália on the radio and sing out loud “É uma casa Portuguesa com certeza”, to look at an Azulejo panel and think that Fernão Mendes Pinto was the first European to make contact with the Japan, to read a poem by Pessoa and think that “normal” is such an overrated word, to walk down the wooden stairs of an XVIII century building in Lisbon knowing that once upon a time the Earls and Dukes made the same journey every morning, to admire the unique patterns of the Portuguese Calçada boardwalks, to meet the old-timers for a quick Ginginha, to read the football newspaper and argue with the old-timers over a couple more Ginginhas, to wonder which fish I am going to eat for lunch, to discard that thought and reckon that I will have Bacalhau instead, to walk the streets of Alfama and realizing that this is where real Lisboners live, to think that it was the Portuguese who introduced chillies to India, thus enabling the Indians to invent curry, to look at the red corrugated roof tops of the inland Portuguese villages and think that they resemble the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, to know that half of the Europeans wear shoes made in Portugal, to say hello to the Mayor and tell him that he needs to fix the leaking fire hydrant in my street, to know that the Portuguese are known for being able to resolve any complicated situation using the simplest and cheapest of methods possible, to hear the sounds of the bells and the screeching yellow trams, to kiss the sunshine of the southern planes every time I drink red wine of the Alentejo, to know that we are the only country in the world that catches bulls by their snouts and by their horns, to remind myself how cheap and cheerful Green Wine (Vinho Verde) really is, to explain to an Englishman that it was a Portuguese Queen by the name of Catherine of Braganza that introduced the noble art of tea drinking to the British, to know that Portugal has more seashore than inland borders with Spain, to go for dinner at a Tasca and have a seafood dinner with wine for under 10 Euros, to speak Insha’Allah as did the Moors or to use Latin just to make my case stronger, that onion, garlic and olive oil are present in almost every Portuguese dish, to cry when I hear the melancholic tunes of late night Fado and think that there is no translation for the word “Saudade”, to open a bottle of the finest Irish or Scottish whiskeys anywhere in the world and knowing that the cork on the top is Portuguese, to know that in the summer I can eat fish cooked on charcoal in the street every day, to go to bed knowing that I can do all this tomorrow all over again… And again…
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