Back to Portugal – A Love Story

Our last post was about Francesinha, the Portuguese ‘snack’. It seems a little bit funny that although we drove through probably 15 countries,  John skipped all of them and wrote just about our final destination Portugal, or more specifically about a sandwich in Portugal. I am curious, but probably he knows the reason why he did it.

As probably everybody knows nowadays Portugal is becoming or has become, let’s say ‘a destination’ in Europe, a beautiful ‘undiscovered’ land, but we are not here because of this. When we sat down and thought about where we wanted to live next, we came up with three options: London, Barcelona or Lisbon.

London – too expensive, Barcelona is great but didn’t quite win.

Lisbon – well, John had never been to Portugal before and I love this land. Why? This is the short story of my love affair….

Around 10 years ago I was studying in Prague and my neighbors were four Portuguese guys who thought that I was not able to cook (and I was not) and who were used to seeing me popping up and joining their prepared dinners. They made me to believe that Portugal is the most beautiful country in the world even though they complained about everything, one topic after another. So, with that belief, 10 years ago was my first time to visit and spend time in Portugal and even though it was winter it was very special. Together with my classmate from high school we explored many kilometers on foot and enjoyed every moment (just not early mornings – I hate mornings).

After that trip I came back with my groupmates from university, then later on I returned a couple of times by myself.

I remember one moment when I was driving with Marco (my Portuguese friend that I met in Prague) from Cabo da Roca, the most western point of Europe, to Lisbon taking the scenic route next to the coast line. We stopped in the town of Cascais and feeling the fresh summer breeze I told Marco that “I will live here!”

You know that 6 months after that drive I was already back in Cascais.

I was lucky, I very easily found a place to volunteer and exchange work for accommodation in a hostel in Cascais (it is called Ljmonade and now there is also a second Eco Ljmonade). The owner, Julia, is an amazing women originally from Ukraine who offered me a job which meant that I could stay longer in Portugal. At the moment actually I am sitting in her kitchen and writing this story (she offered for us to stay together with her until we will find ‘our’ place so this is the reason why we are not homeless :D).

During the time that I lived in Portugal I recovered myself from all ‘injuries’ I had and was ready to move on with my life. At the same time I traveled a lot in the country and had a chance to see some amazing architecture, the beautiful nature, to meet people, relax, enjoy life, laugh and discover. So when we were choosing our new destination to live I was completely biased (London is too busy, Barcelona I like, but hmmm not my place).

We have been in Portugal for just two weeks at the moment, facing some bureaucracy, trying to find our ‘home’, visiting places and enjoying our adventure. I feel so happy sharing the things I know with John, meeting my friends, and we are so lucky Julia is hosting us.

It is so fun to tell some Portuguese history and stories to John, sometimes even I don’t know if I created them or if they are real, so he is checking them in google just to make sure they are not fake. Like the fact that the James Bond story was born in Estoril Casino, or that the famous sandwich is called ‘little French girl’ because of the ‘spiciness’ of French ladies. Introducing him to Portuguese writers such as Fernando Pessoa and his four personalities, and then also, of course, bringing him to the best chocolate cake place I have ever visited (and telling the story of how I know about it – Vera took Marco to the place, Marco took me to the place and ever since I am bringing everyone to taste the cake).

In the future we will share more stories about Portugal and our adventures here!

“Here, where the land ends and the sea begins… “

Luis de Camões