You’re Only in Portugal Once

Hopping on another bus for a fun weekend adventure, I had Portugal as my destination this time. Since Portugal is so close to Spain and basically the west coast of Spain, I assumed that it would hold many similar characteristics despite it being a completely different country. However because it is a different country, that means that we crossed a border although there were no signs of us doing so. No immigration to pass through, no customs. Just our bus driving across a bridge and then an immediate language change from Spanish to Portuguese.

Before going to our hotel, our tour guides from Discover Seville introduced us to the beauty of Portugal by stopping at Ponta da Piedeade where breathtaking cliffs awaited us. From the lookout point we could see the caves that we would explore the next day by boat. Today we explored everything from land and tomorrow by sea.

Our hotel sat on the coast with a small cove beach within twenty steps of our door – what more could you ask for! Naturally we were lured by the sunshine after previously having weeks of rain. Sarah and I enjoyed our lunches on the beach, picnic-style. Being at the beach always brings a feeling of relaxation and the ability to just leave everything behind, whether it be thinking about the three papers that I have to write in the next three weeks along with final exams or the many other things running through my head. Just let the sun and the sound of waves take all of those worries away for the time being.

That night we went into the small town of Lagos for dinner at a restaurant called NahNahBah, known for their large burgers and food with American roots. I ordered the NahNah bird which was chicken in a white wine sauce with potatoes and a side salad.

The next morning we were spoiled with a free breakfast that included eggs and fresh oranges instead of the typical bread and cereal. After a hearty breakfast we adventured out on a sangria boat cruise. The previous day we explored the beautiful ocean from the coast and the next day we explored it by sea. From the main boat that held 25 people, a small speedboat took nine people on an excursion through the grottos, or caves, of the southern coast. Each cave is named as a different room in a house such as living room, bedroom and bathroom. Being out in the ocean whether it be on a small speedboat or on a large yacht brings a sense of freedom and union with nature and the environment.

Saturday was a day made for absorbing the Portuguese sunshine. After the boat cruise we visited a larger classic beach near the marina, called Meia Praia, praia meaning “beach.” With good company and in desperate need of a tan, the day slipped away in the best way possible. After a day at the beach we visited Cabo Sao Vicente, also known as the End of the World. It’s known as the End of the World because of the steep cliffs that lead straight down into the ocean. Wandering down the slants of the cliff, we staked out our spot from which we watched the sunset. The natural beauty of Portugal was remarkable with the rough cliffs and the serene sea.

That night for dinner my friends and I decided that since we’re in Portugal, we have to try Portuguese food. Per the recommendation of our tour guide, we stopped at a restaurant called Jotta 13. The menu was very basic with options for grilled meat and grilled fish of many different varieties. All of them came with potatoes and a small salad. After ordering I was looking around, taking in the environment when I saw a cockroach crawling on the ground behind Sarah’s chair. Considering we were in a restaurant, my mouth dropped open despite not wanting to make a scene. Sarah immediately noticed and looked behind her chair to see the cockroach as well. Shannon pulled her feet off the floor onto her seat. When I notified our waiter that there was a cockroach, he acted calm and cool, almost as if this was a normal occurrence. My stomach turned and I had no desire to finish my soup. After seeing another cockroach on the ground, I was ready to leave the restaurant without paying, but I knew that would be rude and disrespectful. One of the cockroaches was squished but the other could still be wandering the floors. Much to my surprise we finished our meal and left the restaurant, unsatisfied with our meal and experience. Sometimes when you decide to try something new, you are shocked either pleasantly or unpleasantly with what you’re given. Take it with stride and march on!

In the little town of Lagos my friends and I wandered in and out of beachy tourist shops and observed the culture of the locals. While inside a store I heard bells and hollering from the streets. A bike parade of men and women dressed in a wide range of dress including Sunday niceties to average weekday wear rode by on bikes whistling, hollering and ringing their bells. Once they passed through the town returned to its laid-back nature of a slow humdrum beach town. That afternoon we discovered a delicious healthy food restaurant called Cafe Fresco as well as a heladeria specializing in selected alcoholic ice creams. After a couple hours of sunshine, we were back on the bus headed to Seville.

Portugal was an amazing experience, one of my favorite weekend getaways by far. The activities and the company made it unforgettable. One thing I learned is to take everything you experience and accept it for what it is, whether it’s a different religion, a new food or a restaurant with cockroaches as its customers.

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One thought on “You’re Only in Portugal Once

  1. Cockroaches are sadly just a part of nature. I live in Portugal and one jumped onto my T shirt on my balcony last week – the first time that has happened in 2.5 years of living in this apartment – so it could well have been the first time they had appeared in the restaurant in the same amount of time.

    I’ve been to Nah Nah Bah too, good burgers but we found the service a bit snooty

    http://www.foodandwineportugal.com/2011/05/09/nah-nah-bah-burgers-in-lagos/

    Best wishes,

    Ben

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