Let’s go Europe – Travel Diary Portugal
After 1 1/2 months in Portugal we just passed the „border“ to Spain yesterday. Luckily there is no real border, not even a former station. Passing a bridge and you’re in another country – without the signs you wouldn’t even realize it. Anyway it means that the first chapter of my one-year-trip is now finished. Counting each country for one chapter it would be 1 out of 27. It’s just starting!
Time for a short review:
Portugal is a very diverse country. Multipolar, you could say as well. Welcoming, intercultural, hospitable, relaxed, …, great architecture, tasty food, nice landscape, … There’s this saying about Germans who need much time to „break the ice“. In some way I have this feeling for the Portuguese – …
So I probably should list up a few of the negative things which I experienced or was told about. But in my opinion there’s way too much highlighting of bad experiences, covered in nowadays media and general perception. So I’ll just skip that part. My perception is: positive experiences happen much more often! As its my subjective and, more important, private experiences many of them are not going to be shared to the public. Anyway it’s like this: your taste defines if you like it or not.
Just to give you a small insight: if it’s the actor who struggles to get enough income who joins our tour spontaneously for at least four days, the journalist who shows me all around the city just because he likes it so much, … (a.s.o.)
After all I just can tell you: Portugal is definitely worth a visit, either in the cities and / or the countryside – You’ll have lots of positive experiences and encounters!
Turning to the „neutral“ facts:
– Portugal is still one of the economically poorest countries in Europe having a minimum wage of around 560€. You can imagine living in a city like Lisbon or Porto with that amount of money is nearly impossible
– There had been more than 500 major burnings allover Portugal in 2017. Many people died, huge areas of the country and the natural life had been destroyed, lots of people lost property
– There’s (still) lots of drug-related criminality
– The water-resources are less and less. After four months without rain the rivers carry just very few water and run out of oxygen. Besides the well-known problems for humanity and the Portuguese people this can lead e.g. to a massive dying of fishes and other animals, like happened nearby Vila Velha de Rodao.
On the other side there’s lots of great developments in the country:
– Since the early 2000’s they follow a drug policy which includes and supports the consumer of illegal drugs, instead of punishing them. This lead to big reduction of heavy-drug-addicts.
– Since 2008 the economy gets better and better. More working-spaces, more start-ups, etc.. People, as I was told, are more confident nowadays than during the crisis. This resulted as well in less euro-skepticism. But you can still feel the huge lack of trust towards the European institutions.
– On the opposite side: the support for the general European idea of living together in harmony, peace and freedom is mostly untouchable recognized.
– The amount of charging stations for electric cars is overwhelming compared to many other European countries. Even if some (:D) don’t work properly it shows the vision and awareness for the future. On a national, European and Global level!
– All in all I would conclude that Portugal is actually on a very good way. Many people try to find solutions, the general acceptance of „foreigners“ and others is very high, the amount of people from civil society engaging in social, environmental and political matters is rising, …
– There’s lots of issues in which Portugal can be taken as a role-model for the other European countries. And for many of the problems mentioned above it’s the other way around: Portugal, just like every other country, won’t be able to solve them on it’s own. Unity and cooperation – socially, politically, culturally, economically – are the only two measures which can lead to a peaceful, free and secure future. Thinking and being positive is going to help us reach that objective!
To finish with my report I would like to say thank you! It was not just Portuguese people but „representatives“ from all parts of the world. There had been so many kind and friendly people I met that I’m not able to name them all here.
But: @Maria-Joao, Thank you for everything! If we manage to have an ambassador like you for every country our project is definitely not going to fail!
Adeus Portugal – Hola España