Portugal /ˈpɔrtjəɡəl/ (help·info), officially the Portuguese Republic (Portuguese: República Portuguesa), is a country located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal … see full wiki
I've grown to love Portugal after I left Portugal. In Portugal, I found something I never thought I'd find and then somewhat lost it again due to an unfortunate circumstance. That was during the World Cup in 2006.
It was a real friend I found & it was this real friend I had lost. He's an archaeologist and his name is Armando. Armando passed away due to a work accident, I was told by another friend of his. Armando is an online friend I met through the travel site VirtualTourist.com. Before meeting him in person, we merely said hi and had very little contact. We didn't chat much either, a lot less than many people I had come to know via the internet. However, that all changed when I made my way to Portugal.
In fact, there are two friends I truly enjoyed meeting who're from Portugal. Armando is one. Robert is another. I didn't meet Robert in Portugal, instead, I met him in Poland. It's a little complicated but to keep things short, Robert writes some of the most beautiful travelogues I've ever come across. A very special friend.
When I went to Portugal in 2004, I met Armando for the first time in Sintra. That's a city about an hour away from Lisbon. Luckily for me, Armando was off work that week. So, he showed me his country; from Sintra to Cascais and Lisbon. We also shared lots of fun as Armando did speak a few words of Cantonese since he once worked in Macao. In fact, when he sent me off at the airport, we had actually talked about meeting in Beijing as Armando was very interested in ceramics and pottery. It's regrettable that we'd never have that chance again. Armando's departure from this world left me with an urgency that I had never had before. It's the sense that one might simply be gone from the world in a flash and there's nothing you can do or plan for it.
In Portugal, there is a term "Saudade" which no one seems to be able to define. It is melancholy, sadness and something associated with Fado. I wrote a review previously on an artist who sings Fado; The Music of Katia Guerreiro. If you're interested in music of a different kind, like me, you might fall in love with Fado :-) I love the clear and crisp sound of the instruments that accompanied Fado. Really nice!
Another thing in Portugal that I fell in love with is Port. Port is a wine originating from Portugal and tastes a little sweet. It is a fortified wine and popularly served as dessert wine. When in Portugal, ask for Porto or Oporto. A bottle of good Port may cost about €20 or more. Porto is a great item to bring home as souvenirs or for one's own consumption. Be sure to get one when you are in Portugal! Lovely!
Another wine which is peculiar to Portugal is from a small town known as Obidos. Obidos is a nice little town to walk in and it has a wine known as Ginja which I had also written a review on. Ginja is something you must buy if you really like it after a sampling. This is a wine that's not available outside Portugal (at least I haven't seen it anywhere while vintage Port can be had at Duty Free Shops at the airports in many parts of the world).
So, there you have it, some of the treasures I found in Portugal. It took me a very long time to actually write anything on Portugal as I was very saddened by the sudden death of my friend Armando. In fact, this is the first piece of thoughts I've ever written on this country. Hence, I'd like to dedicate this review to Armando! Miss you, my friend!