It’s tempting to think that Portugal wouldn’t be very different from neighboring Spain. Spain’s all that surrounds Portugal after all, apart from a few hundred kilometers of Atlantic coastline along its western expanse.
The itinerary for my most-recent trip was less than logical. After arriving to Spain from Morocco, I’d travel to Switzerland then to Holland before ending up in Portugal. Thanks to a mess up on the part of Iberia, Spain’s flag carrier, I ended up connecting through Lisbon en route from Marrakech, Morocco to Barcelona, giving me a preview of Portugal several weeks before I actually got there.
I knew as the plane descended over Lisbon’s perfect red-orange roof tiles that I would return to a place that was very different from anywhere I’d ever been – Spain, Holland, or elsewhere. In spite of its small size and being mostly encircled by Spain, Portugal has managed to maintain an identity all its own, one that reveals itself through architecture, culture, and lanscape.
Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who’s been roaming the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as “CNNGo” and “Shanghaiist” along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, provides a mix of travel advice, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of life as a traveler.