Portugal: Life as a Local

Portugal: Life as a Local

people you’re going to Portugal and the response will
usually be “lucky you!” or “enjoy the sun”. But travel there in
off-peak season as I did and you’ll get mixed signals; it’s windy
and even when the sun does comes out it can be pretty gloomy. Of
course, in the three days I decided to visit my family, I brought
the rain with me from good old Blighty too. I usually stay a little
way out of central Lisboa in a small city called Loures or an even
smaller town nearby, where lots of people recognise each other by
face and never really leave, so I decided to make the most of my
three very windswept days and see what it’s like to live like a

Portugal is known for its red meat, delicious cakes and, of
course, excellent alcohol. Most mornings, the men sit outside and
enjoy an espresso in their local café, often accompanied by a
sweet, hole-in-the-middle bolo rei cake. Dinner usually consists of
meat and rice with a side of salad – again, this usually doesn’t
change from day to day. People also tend to eat pretty late in
Portugal, which was something I wasn’t used too, while as a
vegetarian it was somewhat tricky navigating meat-heavy family
dinners. My plate usually consisted of vegetables and boiled
potatoes, though I did find a few really lovely vegetarian shacks –
House of Wonder in Cascais and Green Pepper in Carnaxide – both of
which were both delightful. After dinner, the men usually gather in
cafés again, though this time for a beer or two, while the women
clean up, put the children to bed then congregate in the kitchen to
chat over coffee and cake.

It’s safe to say that locals are often surprised by the things
that tourists find interesting – though I guess that is to be
expected if you have grown up seeing them. I certainly got lots of
funny looks while taking pictures of the mosaic tiled walls and
coloured houses with laundry hanging to dry outside their windows!
I know it’s not very ‘local’ of me to include them in this series,
but I think it’s important in order to give a true representation
of this historic country.

mishameghna |

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Porto, Portugal