Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The North of Portugal... (3-5 August 2008)

I wanted it to be the last time in a bus. Up to Porto, and there Eduardo was. We were invited for lunch at his uncle’s house – Ze – and his Brasilian wife, Fabiana. We had Muqueca de Camarao, fish and shrimp in a coconut sauce with veggies. It is kind of unbelievable for me to realize that I am completely proficient, not necessarily fluent, but I understand the grand majority of conversational Brasilian Portuguese and I am able to say almost everything that I want to express. Yet, with Portuguese from Portugal, I am understanding very very little. I suppose it’s similar with Spanish, in that I am really fluent in Latin America and when I’m in Spain I have to put more effort and concentrate more.

In the evening we drove north, to his grandparents’ beach house which is about 50km north of Porto. A serenely quiet village with very little happening, a wild beach, and a cute little house with a lovely mother and Kika, the princess kitten.

Monday was a pretty busy sightseeing day; after our morning walk at the beach we drove to Viana do Castelo, a picturesque town which fulfilled my impressions of Portugal with small winding streets, weathered azulejos, cute outdoor cafes, grand ancient churches, and this sparklingly clear gorgeous Portuguese weather. We continued to Caminha, almost near the Spanish border to the north of Portugal, and this tiny village oozed charm. A quiet evening at home with feijoada…

Tuesday was pure relaxation, garden, sun, sand…in the evening we came back to Porto and arrived at his grandparents’ house where we had a big lomo de carne dinner and then headed into the old part of town, which is completely different from Lisboa but quite beautiful. Plenty of old buildings, with arguably even more large facades of azulejos (I’m really falling in love with these blue and white tiles…), churches, impressive plazas and vistas over the river and sea…later in the evening we went to a few bars and the atmosphere was exactly what I’ve been looking for…plenty of young student types, and young professionals, outdoors with beverages, enjoying the weather, chatting away, lots of expression, smiles, atmosphere…perfect.

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