One of my favourite things about Portugal is that nothing is what it seems.
In Porto the streets are windy and run down, tiles chipped and paint peeling, washing hanging from rusty balconies and trash in the streets. Everything has a thin layer of dust and that makes you want to attack the house fronts with a high pressure water cleaner to get the gunk off. But opening one of the huge apartment doors and stepping inside, you see that the foyer is immaculate, the stairs polished to perfection and the walls are gleaming white beneath a clean skylight. The apartments too are spotless, high ceilings and shining kitchens, only looking weathered from the outside.
After learning a little about Porto’s history, this false facade suddenly made sense. There are no castles in Porto, but the cathedral on the hill was built to look like a well guarded fortress and successfully fooled an attempted British invasion. The church that boasts two tonnes of gold statues merely painted anything shiny and yellow with grey paint and yet another set of invaders poked their heads into the church, shrugged and left empty handed.
Not only do they give meaning to the phrase “appearances are deceiving”, but they’re a clever bunch too.
It’s not surprising to learn people are chilled and friendly here, mainly cos it’s too fucking hot to be anything else. Much like Fiji, Portugal runs on its own time, which for an impatient/organised girl like me takes some getting used to. Cashiers will pause in the middle of serving you to have a chat to their colleague, then seem confused why you’re glaring at them.
Mostly however the people have been lovely, especially the doorman at our apartment in Lisbon, who despite knowing no English and us knowing no Portuguese, greets us with a smile and chatters about how amazing the complex’s pool is. Language can be a barrier, but amusing sign language is universal.
Listening to: 11/22/63 by Stephen King (audio book)
Watching: Nothing, because Netflix doesn’t work in Portugal…
Reading: see above
Current man-crush: Gregory Peck