Exploring Portugal for the First Time

by Hannah Boom

Portugal is often overlooked on the list of the world’s top vacation spots and for our guest blogger and Tourism student Hannah Boom, this was no different. However after recently returning from a class trip, her perception of this country has truly changed. From the charming cities to the picturesque countryside, Hannah shares her experience with us:

Portugal had never been on my ‘list’. Everyone has one; It’s where you need to go. Not just want to, or have a vague interest in, but places that if you don’t see before you die you will have serious regrets. When I backpacked Europe at 18 I didn’t give Portugal a second thought. Spain, I considered, but Portugal? Nope. Here’s why; I had no idea how awesome Portugal is. No friggin clue.

Travelling to Portugal was not entirely my idea, but I had the fortune to be travelling with my class from Humber College, and Portugal was the trip that the 19 of us decided on. Now I was excited to go to Portugal, don’t get me wrong, but I had no idea what to expect. That feeling was almost freeing. I had no list of things that I had to see, so I was able to see the country through a new perspective; not one of those ‘checking things off of a list’, but rather truly observing the country and the culture from an outsider’s view.

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I did my research, of course, but it was less about knowing that Sintra had the best palaces, Belemhad the best pastries, and Bairro Alto had the best bars; it was about the culture. I had no idea what Portugal would feel like.

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My previous experiences had all been influenced by something; books, movies, stories from friends, but I had literally no experience with Portugal. I knew one Portuguese person in my lifetime, and had read absolutely nothing about the country. I was flying blind.

When we got to Portugal I was thrown into it; I did not know one word in Portuguese. Did I study the common phrases sheet my teacher gave me? Yes. (Did I remember it is an entirely different story). I had to adapt quickly, and it was so fun. In one week, I gained three Portuguese words (obrigato, quanto es, and ola) and stumbled along with them as much as I could, and trying my best to us sh when pronouncing S’s. I soaked in the Portuguese love of the sea, I began to appreciate tile (something I never thought I could care about), and I learned so much about the history of Portugal.

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The greatest thing about my time in Portugal was that it seemed to go on for so long. The second I stepped off the plane I could feel that Europe feeling. My body just knows that home is an entire ocean away and it starts this random mix of emotions that only Europe brings. It’s freeing, it’s exciting, it’s a little bittersweet, but it’s the reason I travel; to find that new feeling that only one place can bring about. I can’t wait to keep finding new ones.


Looking for more information on travelling to Portugal? Check out our Travel Guide or contact one of our Travel Consultants at 1-877-967-5302.


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