My parents were always big on the “know where you’re from” thing.
As such, my first language was Portuguese (it helped, I think, that 99% of our family only spoke Portuguese). I grew up with stories about the land of my ancestors, both the historical ones and the fables and old folks’ tales there. But my family didn’t often go back to the Motherland. Partly because my parents were always very frugal and also because they worked way too much, I think. Anyway, we did get around to going to the land of my parents a couple times as a family: 1990, for my cousin’s wedding; 1994, when our family was complete – my little sister, the Baby one, was only a year and a half old; and then again, in 2008, when my Parents realized that we hadn’t been back in 14 years and worse – my baby sister didn’t remember anything because she’d been a toddler.
So we packed up and went to Portugal for a few weeks. It was glorious – we did all those things that we’d wanted to do: castles, beaches, cities I hadn’t been to since I was a child, more. I had the advantage: I had gone myself, along with my grandparents, when I was 17. But being with the old people means a few things: visits to plenty of holy sites (Fatima, lots of Fatmia) and very early dinners. I was lucky, though – I had my cousins who humoured me and my weird Canadian-accented Portuguese and took me out to nightclubs, late night coffees and art galleries. It was brilliant, a month of summer that I would never give up.
So I was already the lucky one – I got 2003 and 2008 trips to Portugal.
But was I satisfied? No. I wanted The Boy to see what I loved. I wanted him to see the land of my ancestors and be blown away.
So in 2011, after I graduated law school, just before he started Business School, we packed out bags, got on a plane and headed to Lisbon.
We had a blast! How could you not? The whole country is this beautiful mix of old and new, fun and serious. We rented a dinky little Punto and put-putted across the country – up to Porto, down to Sagres, We ambled over ruins near my Dad’s hometown and put tentative pinky toes into the cold waters near my Mom’s hometown. We went to castles, museums, bakeries, art galleries and the beach – and my Man generally dislikes beaches. It might have been the cheap booze, the great food, the friendly people – or more likely the readily availability of ruins to climb over – that won him over, but whatever it was, he was hooked. And that makes me happy.
The best place in Portugal – the place that I always go back to, no matter how many times I’ve been, is Sintra. It’s a magical place. There are a few castles – white domes for the winter palace, crumbling walls for the Mouros, and then, the brightly coloured Palacio de Pena, siting up top a mountain glorious. Seriously, look it up. It’s beautiful.
In 2003, my aging grandparents made the walk up to the top with me.
In 2008, my sisters, parents and I took the little rickety bus up.
Then, in 2011, the Boy and I trekked up, and we both fell in love with it.
This photo is from the top. I got to the edge of the balcony (I am so afraid of heights) red with flustering and happy to be in this place. You can see the castle in the background. It is truly a beautful place and I recommend everyone to go experience it yourself.
Such a magical place.