Portuguese People Are Friendly

Mediterranean culture leans towards social interaction in the real world. While most people look at their phone screens regularly, they love to talk. It’s easy to meet people and, with English as the second language in Portugal, easy to talk with the people you meet. In a park behind a museum, close to a college, I met some people on a path and photographed one of them before wandering into the museum.

Woman in Park

Portugal had colonies in Africa and had no issues with intermarriage. As a result, there are quite a few mixed race people everywhere you go. A young man in a newsstand spent some time chatting with me. The country is noticeably free of racism and people that we talked with were shocked at some of what is going on now in the US.

Man in Lisbon

It’s The Food!

The food in Portugal and Spain is spectacular. The freshness is just not possible in the US with the way exurban areas have lost their farms and been converted to suburbs. And the American methods of fishing, ranching, and farming further separate the food from its roots. In a country like Portugal, seafood tastes like it came from the ocean. It is often served simply, without strong sauces, because the inherent flavors are preserved. The seafood section in the largest supermarket in Lisbon would be embarrassed to offer pre-cut fillets except from the largest tuna and salmon.

Lisbon seafood

Tapas are served everywhere. One supermarket we visited had separate stations where fresh tapas were prepared: one for smoked seafood, one for cheese, and one for sausage. Wine was served along with the tapas, even before noon; drinking alcohol before lunch (in moderation) is common.

Tapas in Lisbon

And then there’s “ham.” Americans tend to think of dry cured pig leg as prosciutto, but it’s made in Portugal and Spain also. In Portugal, it’s called presunto, in Spain, jamon (pronounced ham-ohn). It’s freshly sliced from the leg in restaurants and bars and people buy whole legs to take home where they slice it themselves.

Presunto in Lisbon

Travel to Lisbon

Lisbon was an important destination for us. A possible future home, a place to live a different life in what seems like a different time despite all the signs of the modern world around us there. One huge difference between home and Portugal (and much of Europe) is the transportation. Trains are more comfortable than planes, the tracks maintained, the stations clean. We took the three hour ride from Faro to Lisbon on the train and wound our way north to beautiful skies.

Faro to Lisbon

Arriving in Lisbon in the evening, a train in the station took on a surreal look from the platform. I was attracted to a Dali-esque clock but it was just one piece in a liquid series of reflections.