Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I think I just need to start typing because the coherent words just aren't there. I was in Portugal for less than 4 days and missed what my friends say would be the highlight which is Lisbon but I saw enough to be sure I want to come back. My opinion is biased though. How can not love a foreign country when you have hosts who take you in, spoil you and show you the town? I probably would have loved Akron, Ohio too. No offense intended to the no doubt lovely inhabitants of that city.
It's a long story. Portugal started as an impulse. Shortly before my trip to Spain I started scanning the maps to plan our trip. Madrid was our starting point, and Salamanca a necessity since that was where my husband had his meeting. Spanish sights started falling into place, Avila, Toledo, and Segovia became the big three after our start and end points. But look! Portugal is only a few hours away from Salamanca and I have never been there. My sum total of knowledge is from a few pictures I've seen on Flickr (all lovely) and my grandparents mentioning some 30 years ago that they adored Portugal when they went there. How could I resist adding another country to my life list? Plus I had an intense craving to go to the ocean and this was probably the quickest route to sun, sea and adventure.
So plan made. My husband would sit and confer for 5 days and I'd speed my way into Portugal. Any reservations about solo travel into a place I didn't know with zero words of the language? A few but that was also part of the appeal. I've had to make do in Hungarian, Russian, Finnish (a non-issue since apparently all Finns speak impeccable English) and Greek, so Portuguese should be easy. One just needs to learn to deal with feeling intensely stupid nearly all the time and being lost the rest.
Enter a fabulous blogger friend. Who would have thought that a friend I've never met in person would e-mail a friend she's never met in person, in Portugal of all places, and arrange an introduction? Who would have thought that the friend-of-friend would invite me to stay with them in their apartment a bit north of Porto? Two e-mails later I had a host in Portugal. I had the usual reservations--guilt about imposing, worry about compatibility, and, last minute after enduring the heavy smokers in Madrid, what if she smoked?
I'm making this post too long so I'll quit here but not leave it a cliffhanger. The stay turned out amazing and no one smoked. I'll share some details of my adventures in food, fun and friendship when next I sit down to post. Enjoy the photos.