Returning to Portugal after many years felt like reconnecting with an old lover. It was more than the fact that we were visiting friends from our teenage years; there was a familiar feeling in the air, a knowing welcome.
But Lisbon was a little different from how we remembered. It was quieter and seemed more expansive, though it was same in all the wonderful small details we had initially relished on our first trip. Fado still drifted through the window in our quaint Alfama apartment and, while we wandered down new streets, we still always stumbled across a store stocked with ginjinha, the classic cherry liqueur - though this time it came served in little chocolate cups. We took to the Rio Tejo, just as the fabled golden light of dusk settled to fill both the city and our hearts.
We saw a new side of our beloved Portugal. The city of Porto was a place we had heard described, but couldn't possibly have pictured accurately. It has a magic all its own, with nods to its larger counterpart. We found pastel de natas at every other corner, but our usual pursuits of the traditional Portuguese sweet were derailed, albeit welcomingly, by pit stops at eclectic boutiques and pop-up shops. We sipped tea on the terrace of a cafe with enough foliage to fill a jungle, and drank port in the cellar of a farmhouse that felt like it had come straight from pages of a picture book.
There is always a new embrace to be found in Portugal - and no doubt we will forever find ourselves returning to it.
This article is also featured in Vol. 19: The Wild Issue