It’s less than two weeks since I came back from the Christmas trip to sunny Florida. I’m already missing sunshine and can’t help thinking of a next trip to somewhere warm and bright. However, after spending quite significant expenses for my annual treat, I do not have a decent budget for the next exploration yet.
But here is always a good idea. Yes, Portugal, my favourite European destination! I have been to Portugal three times, twice to Lisbon, once to Algarve. I still want to go back again. There are several reasons I love visiting there.
1. No time difference between Lisbon and London Most of European countries are one or two hours ahead, which ruins my Friday evening. Taking a flight after 5pm on the last day at work, I still want to be able to have a chill-out at my weekend destination. Flying to Lisbon doesn’t lose any hour. I like that.
2. Friendly and English-speaker-friendly You won’t have any hustle like you might have in Spain, France or Italy. People in Portugal are much more relaxed and humble (I think). They know Portugal is a small country and Portuguese language is not so popular so they don’t expect me to speak it. Great understanding, which the rest of western Europe should look up.
3. Fish and rice Portuguese food is nothing like Italian or Spanish. It’s really light, soupy and full of seafood. Also I like the fact they eat rice quite a bit as well. You know I am Japanese, so fish and rice make me happy more than fish and chips could do…
4. Modest luxury In my first visit to Lisbon, a five star hotel where I stayed recommended a guided one-day trip by a chauffeured car. Although that was the only option to visit Sintra, the world heritage, with the very last minute booking, I sort of hesitated. But, contrary to my worry, it turned out to be only €200 with a lovely English speaking guide/driver in leather-seated Mercedes!
5. Warm and sunny Whenever I visit there, I mean even when it’s not really hot, Portugal somehow keeps its warmth for its visitor. Weather is usually exquisite (especially when you are visiting from London…) and the strong blue of the sky gives me a lot of energy.
I feel Portugal always so close to me. Our Portuguese guide said it was probably because I’m from Far East, where the sun rises. Portugal is the Far West where the sun sets, so Portugal is somewhere I am destined to reach.
The memory of vivid orange colour of Lisbon’s roofs and sunset still make my heart feel warm. I miss Lisbon, I miss Portugal. I need to go back soon!