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Living In Portugal

Updated on May 31, 2010

Having spent a lot of time in Lisbon, Portugal since the summer of 2008, I have to say it’s been a very wild ride. And when I say wild I mean it. Unfortunately my love affair with this wonderful Iberian country must come to a temporary end.

Which is a shame – because Portugal will suffer the loss of the One True Frog ... and damn but I’m going to miss the place.

Living In Portugal

Whilst living in Portugal, I've had the opportunity to experience some truly wonderful moments. I’ve met some of the warmest, friendliest and down right quirky people on the face of the planet.

I’ve experienced some of the most cringe making moments in my life. I’ve also had some of the funniest. And I’ve certainly had some of my drunkest. The floor and I have have been known to meet in Bairro Alto on more than one occasion.

I’ve learned how to communicate in a different language. It’s called Porturades. A 50/50 mix of the Portuguese language and the game of charades. I’m proud of my ability to invent a whole new form of communication. It never ceases to aamze me how resourceful I am. As well as idiotic.

I’ve got it down to a fine art. I can point, mime and verb hop with wild abandon. I’ve taken the art of foreign communication to new levels. Mostly the floor - but I did have the odd moment of slight elevation.

Like the time I became aware of just how many curse words there are in Portuguese. All courtesy of one wild ride through the backstreets of Lisbon with a maniacal taxi driver. Trust me ... he really did own the road.

Which brings me to those I’ve lived among, the Portuguese themselves.


The Portuguese are a wonderful people. They’re idiosyncratic, generous and bursting with pride for this little known and undervalued Western European country. They’re passionate about who and what they are – and boy they sure know how to drink.

Their history is rich and littered with great conquests and exploits, triumph and tragedy. They have their own unique music, Fado, which represents the heart, soul and history of Portugal. The cuisine is particular to the people and the country and there's no doubt that the Portuguese know how to party.

Did you know that they’d adopted the US fall holiday of Halloween? They most definitely have *nods* but would you believe ... they don’t really know what it’s about or why it exists. But hey! This is Portugal! Who needs details?

And so they approach Halloween with gusto. Cakes, gifts and costumes abound, people buy them. Pumpkin pictures appear everywhere. There are witches abroad. But no one goes or even understands trick or treating. No. The Portuguese bypass that aspect ... and just party instead.

And that’s the Portuguese in a nutshell. If it’s fun, something they can enjoy as a family or as a community then hey! They’re having some. And providing they have an idea of who you are, you’re welcome to join in – you’ve just got to be able to keep up.



Although I’ve spent most of my time in Lisbon, I’ve been up and down the country. And I’ve yet to discover an area or a town that isn’t easy on the eye or makes me want to turn away and not return. I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve thought ‘ohhhhh I could live here’. ‘And here’

I love the West coast, the rolling sandy beaches, the surf, the small, little known coves and myriad of medieval towns and villages. The South, the stunning Mount Gordo, almost toe to toe with Spain. The lush green stunning vistas of the North. Coimbra and the bright lights, and the spectacular architecture and history of Portugal that’s apparent in so many places.

Lisbon itself is almost a breed apart. Technology abounds, life is busy and fast paced. The roads are full of crazy drivers and the streets awash with Lisboettas living life with gusto. And usually a beer or two for good measure.

The weather is divine and unbelievably good. The food is relatively cheap and soooo damn tasty. I’ve discovered green wine and how to really appreciate good food. I’ve experienced coffee heaven on a daily basis. I’ve found out that whilst I still don’t like seafood, I kinda sorta don’t mind it quite so much any more.

I’ve come to truly realise what it feels like to be the foreigner, to be the immigrant. I have a new found understanding of how hard it is to be the odd one out, to be in a strange country, lacking the ability to even speak two words. And yet ... with time and effort, what a little adaptation can offer.

The positives far outweigh the negatives. I’m struck by how far I’ve come since I arrived. In truth, I can speak an understandable level of Portuguese, I can understand quite a lot that’s said to me. I can comfortably communicate at least what I want, or respond when I’m spoken to. And there’s a certain pride in that.

When I landed I didn’t understand yes from no, good day from goodbye. After a lot of listening and murderous attempts at Portuguese, I’m now someway towards becoming fluent. And it’s not easy learning a language when there’s a distinct lack of lessons on the horizon. But at least I can say I made progress.

And of course I know rather a broad collection of curse words. Though truth be known ... I don’t always know which is appropriate as a given response to something I disagree with.

Today I leave for the UK, personal circumstance dictate my exit. And I can honestly say that for the main, I’ve had the time of my life. Which is why I’ll return. I consider Lisbon and Portugal my home now. Not least because I’ve shared much of what I spoken of with a wondeful, hard living, life loving Portuguese man that has somehow managed to adapt to my eccentricities and chaotic and disorderly conduct.

Which is not easy for a Portuguese. They appear to prefer rhythm and habit to disorder and disarray. Still ... I was born gauche and impulsive and the harder I’ve tried to control myself, the worse the ensuing chaos. To my café owners downstairs, my butcher’s, the bank, those that I’ve worked with, come to know and spent time with, I thankyou – agradeço a sua ajuda, vocês foi muito gentil.

To (meu) Sargento-Ajudante Simões – muito obrigado meu querido, eu amo-te e até breve.

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    • Global-Chica profile image

      Anna 6 years ago from New York, NY

      I absolutely LOVE this hub, the way it's written and because I see so much of myself relating to it. Haha I love your term "Porturades" because I think that's the language I've been learning for the past 1.5 years while living here in Lisboa. All the best to you! beijinhos

    • surfgatinho profile image

      Chris Leather 6 years ago from Cornwall UK

      Portugal is a great country. Identify with a lot of what you say above. I spent a year in Porto and then 3 years in Lisbon. Can't remember why I ever came back to Blighty now!

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 7 years ago

      Olá Ana - Portugal é um pais bonito! Mas ... eu sei algumas coisas Portugal são não fácil, não é?

      I have written other things about your country, and will write more again, soon. Maybe my little effort helps!

      Os meus cumprimentos Ana e obrigada :)

    • profile image

      Ana 7 years ago

      Gostei do texto que escreveu aqui ;)

      I'm Portuguese and I've always lived here (in Portugal of course) and somehow I got tired of the country (this must be dificult for you to understand because it seems like you really like this country). I guess Portugal is in deed a good country I just got tired of it because I don't like to be always at the same place.

      But people like you that write texts like this about this country are the ones that "save" us because people that read texts like this must be really curious about Portugal. And God knows we need tourists because our economy here can't be considered the best...

      Boa sorte com a vida no Reino Unido ;)

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 7 years ago

      Haunty - hey! ;) I haven't, I must check it out. Not seen it so I'd better go find it. Thankyou as always :):)

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 7 years ago from Hungary

      Have you heard of Ohma's Hubtrails project? You have a good many hubs that would fit in nicely. :)

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      Well thankyou - I'm sure missing being there. Rather cold here and windy, plus the whole cultural differences are sooooo apparent. Shame but hey ho!

    • Rismayanti profile image

      Rismayanti 8 years ago from Tropical Island

      i like this hub, will follow you.

      thanks for share

    • fishtiger58 profile image

      fishtiger58 8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      What a wonderful view you have, so sorry you have to leave, sounds like you don't want to. Great read. Thanks.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 8 years ago from UK

      What a warm gesture of friendship to the Portuguese you have made here. Well done.

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      Everyone - thankyou! I'm just about grounded again (in Yorkshire) and have missed much that's accurred online over the last four days. My heart certainly felt a little broken when I left, it was very hard to do. I spent the first 50 miles or so trying not to be silly and melt :)

      Marisa it is a great waste. Seafood dishes are wonderful in Portugal! If ever you do come and I'm around, let me know :)

      Eovery - sempre Portugal!Grande abraço!

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 8 years ago from Sydney

      You don't like seafood? That's hard to comprehend for someone like me - and what a waste, being where you are!

      Actually I've never been to Portugal - somehow never made it across the border from Spain. My sister went through a phase of spending every holiday in the Algarve, so there's obviously something in it - I must make the effort one day!

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Pat writes: What a lovely tribute to Portugal. My sis-in-law has lived near Tavira for about 8 years. She and her partner have a business on the Algarve and so live there permanently. I have visited frequently and got to love the area. People are very friendly, but you have to change to their pace to really fit in. Sis in law says she has learned patience in Portugal.

      Hope you get back soon.

    • EllenGraeger profile image

      EllenGraeger 8 years ago from Madrid

      Muito obrigada, frog. Portugal is a little big country ! I love it, too. I think I will retire in Cascais. Just think that the UK and Portugal are just a frog hop away. You can hop visit it.

    • Jai Warren profile image

      Jai Warren 8 years ago from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas

      In your words, I can feel your heart breaking, having to leave Portugal. Good luck in the UK and, I hope some day you'll be able to return to Lisbon. Very touching froggy, Thanks.

    • travelespresso profile image

      travelespresso 8 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Love the visions you have created here FD. It is a very poignant hub. Good luck and I trust that you will return to your new homeland very soon.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 8 years ago from South Wales

      Love this hub, froggy. I was recently in Albufeira and I loved it. The food is so cheap!

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 8 years ago from UK

      Great hub, I really like your writing, it's so easy to read and very witty. Learning of your experiences of life in Portugal was really interesting.

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 8 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      I miss meu Portugal.

      Vamos brinder com vinho verder ao meu Portugal.

      Ata Logo.

      Keep on hubbing!

    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      the Portuguese are beautiful people! what a nice tribute to the place and to its people. it looked like you had real fun. wish i could do the same!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 8 years ago from US

      beautitul experience FD, and the people are nice! I will folow your hubs! Maita

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 8 years ago from Michigan

      This is a great read! Portugal sounds like a beautiful country. I'm told I have Portuguese ancestors, but I know nothing about the country. Well, now I do :)

    • skyfire profile image

      skyfire 8 years ago

      Lisbon looks cool,i'm sure you're going to miss all that fun.Nice catch @" hot beer, lousy food, bad service"pic. LOL. :D

      No matter where you hop enjoy life. :)

    • rprcarz50 profile image

      rprcarz50 8 years ago

      Great Hub ! Makes me want to be there. Wonderful pictures too.

      Thank You


      As Always Also a2z50

    • profile image

      AARON99 8 years ago

      Wonderful hub on Portugal and the photos are so amazing. Though i have not got a chance to visit Portugal, but in India, i visited Goa, which can be called a mini Portugal. I feel, you should be lucky if you visited Portugal once for in a life time. Great job. Enjoy.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 8 years ago from south Florida

      Brava, froggie, for the "100" I see next to your profile; you are my heroine - that's heroine, not heroin.

      Now here's the ultimate compliment. I read every single word of your Portuguese tribute. Your writing is lyrical, amusing and for this hub, wistful. Obrigada.

      May you again enjoy your British sojourn and one day return to the land of green wine.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      The Portuguese left a lot of themselves in a little corner of India called Goa - just like the British did across the rest of the country. The Portuguese influence is a lot more colourful than the British of course! :)

      All the best FD...hope your little hiatus from Portugal is good!