To the following lines, I like to give you a snap-shot of my impressions on a recent trip to Portugal. It was a nine days tour of this surprisingly beautiful country.
I strongly believe that a big part of the success of this trip and the impressions/images/ thoughts we got back is attributed to our unbelievable host/guide. Mr. Victor Rodrigues Santos. (tel: +351 962 776 713, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Victor is an ideal combination of knowledge, experience, kindness, readiness, humor, care for everybody, efficiency, effectiveness, flexibility and above all professionalism. Thank you, Victor, once again…
PORTUGAL AT A GLANCE
I will summarize in some bullet points the first and short description of what Portugal is. Obviously, Portugal is much more but this is a few characteristic things that are good to know
Cities, landscape, history and tradition in Portugal
- Portugal is a green country with a “smooth” landscape. Wherever you look you will see trees and fields. 40% of the country is forests and note that: 92% of all the Portugal forests are privately owned! Only 8% belongs to the Government. Forests are mainly a combination of eucalyptus, pine and cork trees. Most people are not aware of this, but Portugal is the number one producer of cork in the world, with more than 50% of global production on the planet.
- Almost all main and known cities of Portugal are crossed by a river or are founded on the delta of a river, that is, where the river meets the ocean or are built at the seashore. Lisbon and Porto.
The same applies also to Braga, Guimaraes, Coimbra, Vila Nova de Gaea, Estoril, Cascais, Nazare…
This is one of the main reasons that makes these cities beautiful. As the cities are built on the banks of rivers, and on the surrounding hills, if you go on the top or at the edge of the bank you will have panoramic and picturesque views of the city.
- Cities are “clean” and submerged garbage cans are all over. Portuguese people are also very aware of recycling and there are many special recycling material collection cans.
- Portugal is a very “old” country with a rich and very interesting history and tradition. All of its cities have the so-called “historic center” or “old town”. Buildings are 600, 800 and sometimes 1000 years old and mainly are Churches, monasteries Kings or Princes Estates. Walking to the alleys of the historic center is a must. Many of Portugal’s historic areas, old buildings and churches and monasteries have been declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Monuments.
- One very noticeable characteristic is that in Portugal almost all streets, alleys and squares in every city are made of small stone blocks. And on the top of this, white on black or black on white coloured blocks are used to create artistic shapes, figures and patterns in pedestrian areas and in walk-roads.
- Portuguese people are very friendly and willing to help and give information and directions to visitors. Tourism is one of Portugal’s main revenue source and the locals seem to know that.
- Portugal is considered as a safe country in terms of personal security and threats against life, but in crowded and busy places you should have all of your senses alerted, as the success in Tourism comes with a penalty in security as many micro-fraud and theft individuals make their living out of this.
- Portugal cuisine is affected by all Portugal’s colonies as Portugal was the first European country to explore and concur countries on the other side of the Ocean and to send its ships – “caravellas” as far as India, Brazil, Angola, Japan, etc. Codfish is the “national” food and is cooked in minimum of 50 different styles and recipes.
- The national education system at a very high level and the University of Coimbra is famous for medicine and law schools.
- The national health system is well organized and effective. Should you need anything during your visit to Portugal be confident that you will be treated with high-level services.
As I said at the beginning of this article this is Portugal at a glance. It is impossible to include the history and the beauty in one page.
I will return with more analytic articles especially in the areas of culture mixed with today’s attractions. Stay tuned.