In the summer of 2015 I had the opportunity to take a trip to my mother's native country and it changed my life. I am half Portuguese, I grew up attending Portuguese school every Saturday, my Sundays consisted of going to Santa Cruz church in the plateau and I have been addicted to 'pasteis de nata' ever since I could remember. I have always felt very Portuguese even though I had never actually had the opportunity to go to the place I always wished to call my home. I expected to see beautiful architecture and beaches, I expected the good food and friendly people, but I did not expect for it to change my life the way it did, and this is why...
Portugal's beauty is overwhelming; the colourful and vintage european architecture blends in with the exotic beauty of the beaches, and the combination is spectacular. When I went to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, I was stunned at just how modern it was but rustic and vintage at the same time. Nothing compares to walks through the little alleys, the smell of Portuguese cooking, the loud laughter and great music; Lisbon will sweep you off your feet, you'll never want to leave – I certainly didn't.
Just like most places in Europe, I expected to eat a lot and pay a lot, but in Portugal, you eat so much and pay so little! It's every 'foodies' paradise. Being born and raised in Montreal, I thought I had a solid idea of what good food tasted like. Boy was I ever wrong! I don't think I had one bad meal during my 3 week vacation, and I camped for 4 days at a music festival in Zambujeira Do Mar... who knew festival food could be so good? I also thought the club scene on boulevard St-Laurent showed me a good time, until I went to Buzios, a club on Praia Da Rocha beach. A typical "night" out in Portugal looks a little like this:
11pm-2am: goes to multiple bars; 2am-6am: goes to a club; 6am-12pm: goes to an after party.
It's totally insane, Portuguese people party HARD. I also went to a music festival called MEO Sudoeste and met people from all across Europe, the 'joie de vivre' in this country is astonishing.
I had the opportunity to go to the bakery where they invented the famous 'pastel de nata' and it was life changing. I actually died and came back to life with every bite. Pasteis de Belèm. Write that down, thank me later.
I was blown away by the rich culture and history, beautiful architecture and beaches, great food, friendly people and crazy party scene that makes this country one of a kind. When people plan trips to Europe, they often leave Portugal off their list, and I genuinely think that it's the biggest mistake you could possibly make. Portugal has that element of 'je ne sais quoi', it was love at first sight. It changed my life, it could change yours too.