Portugal. a love story

We made it Portugal! Almost our whole group was relieved when we made it to the land of 75 and sunny, ocean views and pastel de nata. Even though many of us, including myself, loved Prague it was such a nice uptick going to nicer weather. For a guy from the south, there is only so many 45 degree windy and rainy days you can manage and while I am not complaining, I’m liking the nicer weather here. The capital city of Portugal, Lisbon, is charming, beautiful, colorful and lively. It reminds me a lot like San Francisco as it has many hills, a copy of the Golden Gate bridge, plenty of water to see but not many beaches in the city center, and beautiful rooftop bars with views of it all. Of course, it has its own Portuguese twist to it, and I love that. I can speak the language a tiny bit with my background in Spanish and it finally feels like spring! I’ve had to take an allergy pill everyday which I am actually happy about as it means that the warm is here to stay. My first week in Portugal has been amazing, punctuating with an incredible trip to the very south coast of Lagos. I already love this town and I cannot wait for my next three weeks here!

I enjoyed Portugal so much that I procrastinated writing about it since I was having too much fun experiencing it. The first paragraph was written after my first week and I’m now writing the rest from our new workspace in Sofia, Bulgaria. Needless to say Lisbon is one of my new favorite cities and I can picture myself spending an extended period of time there at some point. The month was filled with beach days, amazing local food, perfect weather, community potlucks, the opening of the new workspace (WIP 2), countless mojitos/gin&tonics/green wine, climbing up hill after hill, watching trolleys go by and a bit of exploring in between.

Since it was such an amazing month and I loved so many things, I figured I’d just post my favorite things since I thoroughly enjoyed every day here!

Here are a few of my Favorite things:

Activity- surfing. I took surfing 3 different times in Portugal and really enjoyed it. It was much harder than I expected so I have a new appreciate for all my surfing friends. It was an awesome experience to be out in the water and waves with your friends all cheering when we caught a wave and grimacing at our gnarly wipeouts. I caught my fair share of good waves which I was super happy about but also had some big wipeouts along the way.

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Snack- empanadas at La Argentina. I love empanadas! In fact, I love all Latin American food but empanadas might be my favorite. I could eat these flaky pastries filled with meats all day long and somedays I did in Portugal. There was a tiny little place called La Argentina a 1 minute walk from our workspace. Each one only count $1.50 so I’d grab one every time I walked by (except the sad Mondays when they were closed).

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Quick Bite- Time out Market. This is a big food court right in the middle of town. On all four sides, there are different restaurants serving up their best food. There is a full bar and beer taps in the middle as well surrounded by many long tables and hundreds of people at all times. At Time-Out, you can get everything from traditional Portuguese food to sushi to pad thai to cheeseburgers to steak tar tar. It truly is an amazing experience and I went at least 10 times this month.

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Lunch/Dinner- Restaurante Cabaças steak cooked on stone. Man this place so amazing. For $10, you could get that giant steak to cook yourself on that stone and a giant pile of fries. The orange and yellow sauces seen in the picture were incredible and this was an awesome dining experience. It is cool playing chef for dinner and when you have 6 of these at a tiny little table, the smells are amazing! I’m getting hungry just thinking of this place

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Beach/Side Trip- The beaches in Lagos. Lagos is a city in the southern coast of Portugal known for its famous beaches. It has a really cool town right by the beaches and the views are incredible. This weekend was all about the ocean as we spent all of our time at the beach, kayaking, on a boat or walking to and from these things. I can’t overstate how cool these views are.

Beer- Cerveteca Lisboa. In each country, I try to find a craft beer store or tap house and I found this gem right by our workspace. It is one of the those things that reminds me of home so I always seek them out. Lots of times after work, I’d walk in there and just talk to the owner about different beers and styles and the craft beer culture and uprising in Portugal. It is really cool meeting business owners like this and sharing thoughts on our common love of beer.

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cocktail- gin&tonic at foxtrot. Gin & tonics were big in Lisbon and I had plenty. This one was just made correctly. A little bit of grapefruit and mint mixed in and it was a delicious and refreshing cocktail.

Place to Work Cafe Tati. This cafe was a 2 minute walk from my apartment and it was my favorite place to work. It was a quaint space with amazing food and drinks for cheap. The wifi was good, the staff was nice and it was super cheap. For was more than once where I ate lunch and dinner there and I had the best fish soup I’ve ever had here. The cappuccino was also the best I can remember having. If it opened before 11am or on Mondays, I would’ve been here even more!

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New drink- Blackberry Somersby. We discovered this drink early on in Lagos. We tried to get in a cab but I was too sandy for this guys liking so we had to walk instead. We needed to fuel up before our journey and we stumbled upon Blackberry Somersby. We had had regular Somersby cider a bunch but the blackberry flavor blew our minds. Crisp, refreshing and delicious this has become the official drink of the Balboa group.

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Full day- Farewell Event. The farewell events are always so much fun and since we were by the beach, the staff decided to throw us a beach day. 40-50 of us piling on a bus and driving out to a beautiful beach. Beach volleyball, throwing the football in the ocean and playing cornhole on the board some of the remote made really made for an amazing day. Lunch with a view and hanging out as a big group are always fun days and this was a great way to wrap up our last week in Lisbon.

Half day– Our last full day in Lisbon, we rented a catamaran for a half day and sailed around the harbor. Good Portuguese Rose and good conversation made for an amazing last day as we said goodbye to our favorite city.

Favorite View– The golden gate and Jesus Cristo look-a-likes across the harbor.

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Portugal was incredible, Portugal as amazing, Portugal was everything. It really was a love story for each of us this month as we all fell in love with an amazing city and country. Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon!

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