Portu-Gal Pals

I think it’s only appropriate to choose “Portugal” by Walk the Moon as this blog’s soundtrack.

A little background first.

My hometown high school blessed me with the opportunity to take classes with kids from across the world: Russia, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, etc. Most importantly, I had the good fortune of meeting Francisca, a genuine sweetheart from Cascais, Portugal.


Being the gracious host that she is, Fran opened up her home to two Americans looking for some sangria and a whole lot of Portuguese culture.

DIA UM (Day One)

The Gal Pals set out on the earliest flight Edinburgh had to offer. The early morning chai latte left me feeling quite nauseous so we settled down for a real meal at the London airport and anxiously awaited our final leg of the journey.


WE HAD MADE IT! Lisbon was at our fingertips and we felt giddy with excitement.

Fran pulled up with the limousine (car) and we set out for the center of the capital. After showing us around her campus, we were dropped off at the nearest cafe and pointed in the direction we needed to go while Fran rushed off to finish up her classes for the day.

No problem, we can handle ordering in a cafe, right?

Just barely.

We work hard to obtain the things we want the most.

Striding into the cafe with an air of confidence is how we should have approached the situation. Instead, we managed to slowly shuffle through the door, looking around nervously, and quietly discussing how to interpret the menu that was comprised of drawings of food with circles around it or crosses through it.

Eventually, we realized that everyone walking through the door was taking a number so we quickly pulled ours and waited through the Portuguese noise.

With panic in my little English-speaking-only-four-years-of-Spanish-classes-having heart I turned to Cora and asked, “How will we know when we’re being called? This doesn’t sound similar to Spanish AT ALL…”

If our life was a sitcom, the cameras would have zoomed in on our eyes bugging completely out of our heads and the sweat rolling down our foreheads in sheets.

“English?” The sweet, sweet lilt of the English language drifted through the cafe to our hungry ears.

“YES, ENGLISH!” I practically kissed the woman as she walked us through which pastries and juices were most popular.

God bless the Portuguese.

Exploring the city was the easy part.

Sangria being sold in an adorable street market? No-brainer, you buy two glasses straight away.

Do you see the sea in the distance? Walk towards it.

Found a cool square? Pose.

The city is simply photogenic.

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But so am I 😉


Cora and I spent the next hour and a half snapping pictures of the city and looking for the castle. The elusive monster was in our sights at all times, but we managed to keep walking in circles around it.

All that was left was to make our way out of the city.

Struggling our way through public transportation, we eventually realized that when the transit employees were saying “Cash-cash” they really meant “Cascais” (AKA Franny’s hometown).

If you’ll notice, the sign on the right depicts a little green boat. As we were standing on the platform waiting for the metro Cora turned to me and uttered the best quote of the entire trip, “That’s so cool that you can take a boat in the underground!”

You cannot, in fact, take a boat in the underground. The pictures depict separate metro lines. Cheers to you, Cora.

Arriving half an hour late, Fran and her good pal Afonso took us back to the house for a traditional Portuguese dinner with her adorable fam and then out for some good, old fashioned beers.

DIA DIOS (Day Two)

Exploration was the name of the game.

Fran shooed us off into the gardens of the Palácio Nacional de Sintra and we happily scurried to the top.

The Portu-Gal Pals happily spent two hours walking around ogling at the ancient architecture.

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And crying over the view.

Eventually we made it back down to meet up with our gracious host and head over to the castle.

In the afternoon, we traveled into town to eat and drink classic pastries and liqueurs (out of chocolate cups!!!)  to our heart’s content.

As the evening quickly approached, we prepared to head into Lisbon for dinner at a friend’s flat. Now, if you’re familiar with Spanish dining culture, you know that the last meal of the day is served late into the night. Let me tell you, it is NO DIFFERENT in Portugal.

Arriving at 8 o’clock, Cora and I assumed we would be eating within the hour. Oh boy, were we wrong. We sat staring longingly into the kitchen as our stomachs grumbled audibly until the stroke of midnight.

It was finally time to eat.


That incredibly dark photo depicts Turkish meatballs, salad, homemade vinaigrette, and rice. It was the sweetest relief and most fulfilling gift to our stomachs.

Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh my, if you were eating dinner at midnight, surely you left shortly after eating!” You would be wrong.

Much like their late-hours dining culture, the Portuguese have a late-hours partying culture. Go ahead and take a guess at what time we left the shindig. 3AM? 4AM? Nope. We were on our merry way at six in the morning. The very sun was rising as we pulled into the garage and made our way to bed. But it was worth it 😉

DIA TRÊS (Day Three)

Our last day was packed full with many sights to see and even more food to eat.

Breakfast (at one o’clock) made by Fran:


A visit to the coast:

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Boxes of Portuguese pastries that were finished by only Cora and myself:


Evening visits to rooftop cafes:

Getting kewl pics of kewl kidz:

Overall, Portugal was too kind to the Portu-Gal Pals, mostly because Fran is the best host that a person could ask for.

Thanks to everyone that accepted us jean-jacket-clad Americans into your life for a weekend. We absolutely adored you and everything Portugal had to offer! Come visit me soon, Fran ❤

Sending all of our love,

The Portu-Gal Pals


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