In the Spring of 2014, as part of our 30,000 mile (50,000 kilometers) road trip we drove the entire coast of Portugal. We explored many of the more touristed destinations as we knew very little about the westernmost country of mainland Europe. We zipped from the Algarve, to Lisbon, then on to Sintra and Cascais. We took in the superficial beauty of this incredible country but felt like we moved a bit too quickly to understand 900 years of history, people, food and culture. I remember crossing the northern border into Spain as we made our way to Santiago de Compostela thinking that our Portuguese story was not yet over.
A little over a month ago we were offered an editorial assignment on the Silver Coast of Portugal. We were in Thailand, and the decision felt right, although the “how’s” were a little murky, to say the least. It has taken us a few weeks just to comprehend the raw, natural beauty of where we are living. Couple that with mouthwatering fresh ingredients, historic day trips to last a lifetime, the people that have completely opened a new corner of the world to us, and it feels like a daydream.
Learning The Facts
As the story of this diverse and somewhat remote country unfolds, we will capture it the best we can. Here are just a few interesting facts about Portugal that we didn’t know just a few short weeks ago:
- Lovely Lisbon just happens to be Western Europe’s oldest city and predates Rome by four centuries!
- Portugal has had the same defined borders since 1139, making it the oldest nation-state in Europe.
- Portuguese is the mother tongue of over 220 million people world wide from Angola to Brazil.
- Same-Sex marriage has been legal in Portugal since 2010.
- Portugal abolished slavery in 1761, nearly half a century before Britain, France, Spain, and the United States.
- 94% of the population in Portugal is Portuguese.
- There are an estimated 9 million baptized catholics in Portugal out of a population of 10 million.
- Portugal has a coastline that spans 497 miles (800 kilometers) and it’s said to have 365 days of surf per year, unless it is a leap year in which case it is 366!
Being Mindful of The Motto
It struck me as we were walking the beautiful trails near Sao Martinho do Porto on the Atlantic last week, that in many other countries we have lived, the “motto” finds us. In Italy, “La dolce vita” is the unofficial commitment to living the sweet life. In Spain, the idea of “Viva Espana” or long live Spain, was palatable. In France “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” or liberty, equality, and fraternity was prominent.
The Portuguese simply say, “I love Portugal.” It is not about what they want us to experience, but rather how they feel about their home country. It is a subtle difference but makes us mindful of the tranquil peace we feel nestled on the Atlantic’s rugged coast in this remarkable corner of the globe. It is a powerful place to reflect on what we love about our home country, from sea to shining sea.
For those of you who may be interested in vacationing in Porugal, our “go to” resource is Rental Retreats. They also helped us secure our villa rental in Tuscany in 2014. Their professionalism and customer service are second to none!