Travel, stories, literature
It’s Portugal – our path, our destination. We are not tourists, we are travelers. Trying to discover this land, trying to dive into it, trying to be part of it – and be it only for some weeks of the year. From my first visit on, back in 2004, I’ve been bound by this piece of land. It only took a 24-hour-stay in Porto to realize that Portugal is special. Special for me. I was touring Europe as a merch seller for metal band Atrocity and had already seen a dozen cities, but entering Porto made a change. The cityscape, the architecture, the street life – nothing similar to my German home. Besides all the good food and the nightlife one thing stood out and impressed me – the people. They made me come back several times both for work and for traveling.
At home, friends and family grew tired of my ongoing enthusiasm for this country. Now impossible to imagine, but some 10, 15 years ago, little was known about Portugal in Germany. Back then, it had not been the tourist destination it is today. Only some individual tourists had ever been knew what I was talking about. I looked into questioning faces when lecturing about a place, many believed to be a poor and hardly attractive country. Little did they know. And how much has changed.
In 2014, I finally introduced my girlfriend (now wife) to the country I adore. And it didn’t take long until she was captivated by it herself. Traveling in a far too old Mercedes Vito resulted in visiting nearly every car repair shop of Portugal. Moreover, these breakdowns made us meet helpful souls we still are in contact with today. In Portugal, you cannot stand next to your broken car for five minutes without being offered help, getting dinner invitations or even being invited for lodging. This made my wife come to the conclusion: „Portugal‘s greatest attraction is its people.“
One year later, we returned to Europe’s west coast – this time for our wedding. Our ceremony right in the magical gardens of Monserrate, Sintra only strengthened our connection to Portugal. But it is not only the wedding memories that still keeps us attracted – again it is the people. Be it the wine-spoiled evenings with Carla, João and Ana in Torres Vedras or the ever-sincere encounters with dear Pedro Bento, who took the picture of us above – there are 10 million reasons to return.
As our family grew with the arrival of our daughter, now it is the three of us discovering Portugal’s life, land and treasures. In connection to our wedding location we named our child „Sintra“ with her second name. Now we see her enthusiasm for Portugal – not only in the amounts of bacalhau and pastéis de nata she enjoys.
Journey to Portugal is the title of an extensive report about his home country written by José Saramago. Back in 1979, the Literature-Nobel-Prize-winner toured all of mainland Portugal by car. As a result, he bequeathed to us his impressions, thoughts and astonishment about more than 250 places of all the (now) five regions of Portugal. What stands out is his humor and honesty. He describes the vilas and cidades in his very fair-minded and unadorned way – which might proof his love for his own country the best.
„A mere tourist guide was what I least wanted the Journey to Portugal to become…“, José Saramago wrote 20 years after publishing his narration of his six-month-travel-adventure. And that exactly sums up what this blog aims to be – or not to be: a tourist guide. These pages won’t tell you where you must have dinner in Porto, or what might be the hippest district of Lisboa, or where to find the coolest clothes in vintage stores. VIAGEM A PORTUGAL is meant to be a report of our experiences, our feelings and our thoughts discovering a country we deeply fell in love with. We want you to see some of Portugal’s wonders that cannot be found in the travel guide. We invite you to join us on our journey. Although we have already seen a great many places we still dream of following Saramagos original route of his Journey to Portugal. One day… So far, we are inspired by the author’s words letting them guide us on our personal journey. The stories and photographs you’ll find on this blog are based on our trips through mainland Portugal in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018, so far.