In love with…me, myself and Portugal

Self-love is a concept that I thought I was perfectly aware of. I was actually convinced, I was pretty good at it: I love beautiful food, regularly buy myself flowers, take an occasional bath, have a glass of red wine or two, in other words: I was doing nice things for me. But then, last summer, I hit a new low in my self-esteem. I had hit rock bottom.

I’d started reading about self-worth and realised how little I value myself. Think about this: How often do you talk badly about yourself? Little things like: oh I’m so stupid, I forgot the keys. Or: No, I’m not smart enough to do this! It’s the little things I hadn’t noticed. Even the fact that I wasn’t even appreciating my own work. Whenever someone complemented me, I couldn’t accept it, basically rejected it, or tried to find a plausible explanation for it. Not long ago, someone told me I smelled nice, and instead of just saying a simple thank you, I replied saying it was my body lotion, and stretched out my arm for him to smell. I guess I was trying to prove a point that it wasn’t actually me who smelled good, but the product I had applied.

Earlier this year, I wrote my very first evaluation report by myself. It was not my personal choice, but this is how things turned out. Perhaps, I should mention that I had only started working for this firm half a year earlier and during the first three months, I was an intern and yes, that does make a hell of a difference. I wrote a 70 page report and both the project manager and my boss complemented my work. My reaction? Oh that was nothing, everyone else would have done the same. But seriously: would they really have done the same? Not to mention I was writing about a topic that I had absolutely no clue about. So it wasn’t until I had it in black on white in front of my eyes that I realised, I needed to change the way I treat myself. It’s not just about the flowers I buy for myself, but also about the way I talk about myself in front of other people and how I think about myself. So I’ve decided to take better care of myself.

But why is it that I always seem to be doing a better job at taking care of myself when I’m far away from home? Those past few days in Portugal have been so refreshing and I’ve finally found or should I say took some time just for myself. Even though I certainly wasn’t the only one who’d decided that Portugal was a nice place to hang out at, I was still able to do the things I love: brunch, sipping red wine overlooking the river delta, reading a book of my choice while sipping flat whites and the best thing about it? I didn’t even have to worry.

Coming to Portugal has once again showed me how important it is to continue this path that I’m currently taking and it’s really not as awful as one might think to spend time alone. After all, it’s you who you spend 24 hours a day with so why not take a trip by yourself? However, I’ve soon come to realise that for me, traveling solo isn’t much different from my daily life, except that I’m in a different place. I’ve basically been traveling the life journey on my own for the past 28 years. If this trip has proven me anything, it’s once again my ability to make friends easily and that I’m gonna be okay on my own, which does not mean, I never want to travel or hang out with anyone else anymore, hell no.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve learned to appreciate myself a lot more and have become increasingly aware of my own value and I feel that for many people out there, traveling solo is the best way to get to know themselves. If that’s the case, please do it, or find another way to really connect with yourself. I’ve been wondering why people fear being alone so much. We always concentrate on getting to know other people, but what if we got to know ourselves first? You might actually meet someone great that’s been there all along.

Bisou, M

Brunch at The Mill, an Australian-Portuguese café

Lisbon summer flings…

Hello there,

For those of you who have read my recent post on Lisbon already know what a fabulous city this is and how easy it is to get a great shot of Lisbon with all those hills. This one I kept for an extra post as I am in love with the location which is actually a fortress – Castelo de Sao Jorge – and used to be the royal residence until the 16th century when King Manuel I. decided to move out. Today it is one of the best platforms to discover Portuguese history and take photographs of the city. The panorama is absolutely breathtaking and tricks you into believing you’re at the ocean. It is also a great spot to take selfies, mother and daugther photos or to just accidentally have a photoshoot of your newly purchased dress that you’re absolutely in love with. Just beware of the wind up there!

Bisou, M

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A Postcard from Lisbon

Hello lovebirds,

I admit it’s been a while since our last post and it’s perhaps got to do with Lara first heading off to the U.S. and then starting her career as a teacher which means she won’t really be joining me on this project anytime soon. So I began to hesitate whether to keep writing, or to quit living in this abstract, superficial online world where you’re constantly under pressure to produce new interesting content but I finally decided it’s really up to me how I spend my days and I just won’t allow myself to get drawn into this mainstream kind of thing and decided to just continue doing what I love.

But this isn’t really what I wanted to tell you. About a month ago, I visited Lisbon and as I was going through my photos with my dad yesterday morning, I once again realized it would be a shame not to share them with you. Also because I’m head over heels in love with Lisbon and would go back at this very moment if I could. I even started learning Portuguese, so yes, it really hit me this time.

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My expectations of Lisbon were quite high as all my friends that had been there before told me I’d love it for sure so when mum and I left, I actually started having doubts cause I was worried my expectations would be too high. It quickly turned out though that despite all my friends’ comments I did fall in love with this place instantly. The locals were disturbingly friendly, they’d try to help you out even if you don’t speak a word of Portuguese (and obrigada doesn’t count). People were so surprisingly calm and relaxed, the world quickly slowed down and I felt very welcome in this city. It was my first time in Portugal, so I had absolutely no clue about their history, culture, language and I enjoyed my stay so much that I can’t wait to go back there to check out some more places. Porto is definitely on top of my travel list.

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Lisbon – or Lisboa as the Portuguese call their capital city – is built on supposedly 7 hills but apparently there are 8. Since it’s more prestigious to have 7 hills like the Roman capital why not make it 7, right? Anyways, it’s a hilly city with a lot of walking up and down, so if you ever do plan to go there you might want to leave your high heels at the hotel. The good news is that in a city with 7 hills you get a hell good of a view of the city. There is a great number of Miradouros – which means viewing platform in Portuguese -that will reward your sweaty climbing efforts.

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Esplanada das Portas do Sol

On our first night, mum and I went for an evening walk and as we strolled through the ancient streets of Lisbon, we came across a traditional festival with dancers wearing traditional clothing. A day earlier (12 June), the Santo Antonio Festival, patron saint of Portugal, started so we figured this must have still been part of the party that was going on all weekend. The further we went, the more the streets  filled up with people and the smell of freshly grilled Sardines and traditional music. Houses in Portugal are beautifully decorated with colourful tiles that make you want to take pictures of every single one. In the background you can see the Tejo river that very much resembles the ocean but really is a river delta. The architecture and monuments take you back to colonial times when Lisbon was still a rich,  international colonial power.

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Any blogger that has been to Lisbon or Portugal generally writes about how delicious the small little vanilla pastries – pastéis de nata – are, so I’ll spare you that one (but let’s be honest, they really are damn fabulous!). I’ll talk about ginjinha, a lovely cherry liquor, instead that you should give a go while there. I am usually not very fond of spirits but this liquor really is worth giving it a try. It tastes like a cherry popsicle to be honest and you can get it on the streets in Alfama or any local store if you want to take it home.

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Pastel de Nata
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Photo by Pinterest

Here is some advice that might be useful to you, or even to myself when I re-read this before my second trip to Lisbon/Portugal:

  • Transport: It’s best to get a ‘viva viagem’ card at the metro station. It’s a little green card that costs about 1€ and is refundable. Without this card you’ll have troubles getting around in Lisbon. You will need to put some money on the card so you can use public transport. They’ll charge you every time you get on the tram/bus/metro, unless you can get a day pass, meaning that you can get on and off as many times as you wish. ALSO: there is no metro till late in the morning. So if you plan on getting to the airport by metro, please make sure you check the timetable first. This might be helpful: http://www.metrolisboa.pt
  •  Be careful at restaurants. Keep in mind that the starters (usually cheese, bread, olives etc.) on the table are not free, they are usually included in the ‘couvert’ that will be charged anyways.
  • Beware of pickpockets, especially when riding the historical Eléctrico 28! If you’d like to take a ride on tram 28 make sure you get on at Martim Moniz (there’s usually a long queue but it’s worth waiting). End stop is usually Prazeres but you can easily get off at any other stop. Mum and I hopped off in Chiado near the famous Café A Brasileira where Fernando Pessoa, famous Portuguese poet, had a drink every now and then while doing some writing.
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  • My favourite Miradouros: Miradouro da Graça,  Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara, Largo das Portas do Sol.
  • I always love having a little tour guide on me when I travel. One of my favourites is the Marco Polo one as it gives a nice overview of the city’s history, culture, people, most important sights, usually includes a map. I was very satisfied with the different adventure tours they put together. Every tour is timed and even calculated if you want to visit all their museums they propose. They also planned coffee and lunch breaks where you can enjoy your time in Lisboa.

Hope this was somewhat useful. Have a happy stay in Lisbon!

Bisou, M

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Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcântara
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