Category: Travel

Behind my ‘Thank you’

(ler em Português)

A year ago today I was enjoying one of the happiest days of my life. My two worlds came together, from home and from far away, to celebrate three decades of life on a more than perfect summer day.

Cars travelling from my Lisbon routes were joined by planes flying from Dortmund, Berlin, London and Brussels, filled with French, German, Portuguese, Uruguayan, American, English, Irish and Italian friendship.

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(there was more than that!)

For cancerians (and more so for pessimistic ones) it’s difficult to accept full happiness, even if for just one day, as though there would always have to be a trap somewhere. That acceptance is therefore even more amazing as one nervously looks around and doesn’t find any trap at all. Rather, it is about appreciating the cloud under which we lived, making us forget the colours of our childhood, passionate moments, foreign scenes. And so we finally show a genuine smile.

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EURO 2016 Final, Terreiro do Paço, Lisbon (Credit Lusa Agency)

If you don’t run on Portuguese blood you can’t feel this, but let me try to explain

What winning the Euro 2016 really means to Portugal

Portugal campeão Euro 2016

Me losing my voice in Marquês de Pombal

I need to let this out, even if I should not be allowed to speak anything else but Portuguese right now. My beautiful language is “only” the 6th most widely spoken worldwide and I need to shout beyond that!

To be Portuguese is to long for something that we achieved in the past; something (at least seen as) great, and in a past turned into nostalgia. Our nation lives in the memory of sea heroes which we stubbornly think we may never become again.

We’ve been a Republic for over a century. We had four decades of dictatorship, ended with a peaceful revolution. We had a colonial war and I grew up with my father’s stories from two years in Mozambique. Thousands of people across generations left Portugal and settled in other countries, mainly France. The 10th of June is Portugal Day, when much of this is remembered.

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10 things I miss and don’t miss about London

Hampstead Heath London

Before moving to this crazy city I was told of an important milestone for Londoners: once you reach five years, either you stay forever or you leave. Five years in I decided to leave.

My love-hate relationship with this place is shared by many – maybe this list too.

1. Food
To miss: dishes from every corner of the world, cooked either by your friends or in one of thousands of restaurants.
Not to miss: Sainsbury’s tomatoes tasting like cucumbers, Kenya-injected avocados and peeled Thai prawns making us forget what living prawns look like.

2. Job market
To miss: being able to apply to virtually any job.
Not to miss: Brits calling me European.

3. People
To miss: making friends with friends of friends who became friends for life, come from every corner of the world and understand my London struggles so well.
Not to miss: only seeing them every five weeks and accepting that once one of us leaves we’ll never live in the same city again.

London skies4. Weather
To miss: 10 million people appreciating every single minute of sunshine.
Not to miss: ten months of winter.

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