As you may have noticed, I’m sort of branching out with the blog and not just limiting myself to writing about being a mom. I’ve been examining my life, flipping through my photo albums, rereading some of my old journals, browsing various websites and books, and gathering ideas from my family and friends for new topics. And so here we are!
It’s already June, which means that the travel season has begun. I absolutely LOVE to travel! Whether it be by train, plane, or automobile (not so much by ship, though, since I get seasick), it’s always a great adventure to go somewhere else from time to time. What a great topic about which to write, so this post will be the start of a series of travel posts by yours truly. To get us started…
🇵🇹 Portugal: Land of My Ancestors
and Cristiano Ronaldo 🇵🇹
In a few of my past blog posts, I’ve mentioned my experience with studying abroad in Portugal back in 2004, but I don’t know why I’ve never posted any photos from my trip. So here are my favorites, along with some fond memories of the experience. By the way, the majority of my ancestors are from the Azores Islands, not the mainland, and so I hope to one day travel to the islands and see their beauty.
The above photo was taken in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. So many red tiled roofs, as far as the eye can see! I love it! That’s Castelo do São Jorge on top of the hill.
Here we have a view of the Arco da Rua Augusta located in Lisbon. Quite a few European countries have their own version of an “Arch of Triumph,” don’t they? There was this temporary art exhibit set up in front when I was there.
Porto is a beautiful city along the Douro River in Portugal, and it is the city that made Port wine famous. We sampled some wine, took a boat cruise along the river, and I think I got a little too much sun!
So this place is world famous for its natas and other delicious Portuguese pastries. Natas are small, flaky, custard tarts. While they are really wonderful, my favorite Portuguese dessert is bolo de bolacha! (Perhaps I will make one and include it on my Recipes page sometime soon.) Anyhow, back to the bakery/cafe. The inside and outside of it are tiled with the traditional blue tiles (azulejos) commonly found around Portugal.
These are the ancient ruins of a Roman temple in one of Portugal’s oldest cities, Évora. It’s an amazing experience, and truly humbling, to be standing next to something so old, beautiful, and strong enough to have withstood the harshness of weather, time, and life. (From left to right are Erin, me, Sonia, Eric, Melissa, and Filomena.)
Here I am in one of the oldest and most picturesque places in Portgual, a tiny town called Monsaraz. The bright pink of the bougainvillea flower petals against the stark white homes and weathered stone walls was such a stunning sight, as was the view of the Allentejo valley below. So much of it reminded me of the landscape of my home in the Central Valley here in California.
And now, let’s talk about soccer…
The frenzy of Portuguese pride and the fervor of Portugal’s love of soccer was apparent from the moment I stepped off the plane. The nation went absolutely nuts when Portugal’s national soccer team competed in the Euro 2004 soccer tournament (which Portugal hosted that year), and the boisterous shouting and cheering could be heard well-outside the doors of the various restaurants, pubs, and sports bars around the nation. The Portuguese flag was everywhere: from atop flag poles, to hanging off of balconies and hung up like laundry across narrow allies, to adorning people’s bodies in various forms of fashion, to flags in every shop window. Singing the Portuguese national anthem (rather badly on my part since I didn’t really know much of the words) with the entire country was the most amazing and surreal experience. Every note and verse pounded through my body, and pulsed in my ears along with the pounding of my heart.
The joys of victories meant partying in the streets at all hours of the night! I even climbed a statue with some of my friends and danced with strangers. Every time someone on the Portuguese team scored a goal, especially Cristiano Ronaldo, the collective roar of the fans was deafening. It was impossible not to feel the nation’s frustration, disappointment, and sadness when Portugal ended up losing the tournament to Greece. The agony of defeat resulted in anger, tears, and, on at least one occasion, a somewhat dangerous riot in the streets.
Overall, my study abroad experience here was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done in my young life. Saudade is a Portuguese word that covers all manner of longing and sadness and yearning. I definitely feel saudade for Portugal right now.
🇵🇹 Obrigado! Thanks for stopping by! ❤