“Uhhh… what?” Is probably what you’re asking. That title is Portuguese for “Come shake your hips, come dance kuduro”. You may already be able to guess the concept of this blog post–Portugal. I had the pleasure to join a high school friend on a trip to this European country, which was my first time traveling out of the country. I spent a full week exploring the cities of Lisbon, Vilamoura, Albuferia and Faro. Each town had its own appeal, but as a people and culture, the Portuguese were extremely welcoming, and shocked to see an American on “holiday” in their country. Oh, and stick around for the very end of this post. Only then will you understand the title.
Lisbon, the capital, was quite a spectacle to behold. All of the streets are paved by hand using a mosaic technique created by people in the old days. This unique, medieval style has carried over into modern times, and continues to be a tradition of the country. The buildings are just as beautiful as the streets, and are a great compliment to the layout of the city. The buildings are built on levels, similar to that of Rio de Janiero. In the middle of these levels lies a valley, filled with monuments, shops, restaurants, and a trolley system. We visited a lookout point on top of one of these mountains and were able to see the entire city, including a mock Golden Gate Bridge and São Jorge Castle (pictured to the left).
Vilamoura is located on the Atlantic coast, about 160 miles west of Lisbon. This is a hotspot for European tourism. I visited this area at the start of the busy season for tourism, and I noticed quite a few people from many different countries. Mostly Great Britain, and a few locals. It didn’t take very long to understand why. If you do a quick Google search of this town, the first image will be that of the marina, a beautiful location with quick beach access. This housed hundreds of private yachts, and other exclusive boats. The dock of the marina held plenty of different choices for restaurants, clothing boutiques, and liquor stores. I didn’t spend much time there, but I did waste away on the beach for a very long time. I first have to say, the weather there is incredible. Since living in Arkansas, I have become accustomed to breaking a light sweat randomly due to the high humidity. Portugal had NO humidity. There was hardly a cloud in the sky the whole week I was there, and the temperature remained 80 degrees. Somehow, in all of this beautiful weather, I forgot to reapply sunscreen…
I was only able to visit Albuferia and Faro for a day each, but I made the most of it. Albuferia has developed into a tourist town, with many businesses related to everything touristy. Unique restaurants and malls were common, along with fast-food chains we all know and love. The beach was a little different than the beach in Vilamoura (yes, I continued basting in the sun for 100+ hours). The sand was loose, withhundreds of different shells, many of which were broken… and the view was perfect.
Faro felt more local, and less touristy. I walked through a shopping center, but what looked like a downtown area. Tall, old buildings stood on each side of a mosaic-paved path. The stores were exclusive to Europe, and I didn’t recognize many of the brands, except maybe Zara (Only store I have seen in America was in New York). We chilled at an outdoor bar for an hour or two, and then left for home. It was my last day, and I was tired and charbroiled.
Probably many of you have thought about going to Europe, but feel like it is too far, or completely out of your budget. I have felt the same way since high school, but I found Portugal to be pretty reasonably attainable. I am proud that I had this opportunity, and I have been introduced to an outside look into reality outside of the United States. It’s peaceful, much more so than we are led to believe.
Thanks for being patient. Enjoy this hit song from Lucenzo, a popular Portuguese pop star.