Oh meu amor! Portugal!
I have been talking up Portugal like a desperate wannabe ex-pat since the day I landed in Lisbon. Maybe it was the sun in the city, maybe the vinho verde, maybe my love by my side but something was in the air and something felt right and I can't shake it... my heart swells and soars when I think about a winding colorful street, or the cloud forest on top of Madeira, or hiking to above the bridges of Porto, looking down at warm sunset light on orange rooftops and the river below. This place is special, underrated, kind, warm, bright, well-loved, lived-in, peaceful, lively, ideal.
Porto, calm and sweet, beautiful bridges and endless wandering. I'd go back just for the endless Alvarinho.
Lisbon: lively and young, colorful and grundy in an endearing sort of way. We went out dancing, listened to Fado, made friends, sang in the street, ate bacalhou, and want to live here.
Always in an attempt to follow the sun: booked 20 Euro plane tickets to the nearest, warmest place: Madeira. Didn't know much about it except for the crazy, dangerous single airport on the island - which Matt only told me about WHILE ON THE PLANE (oh, good!) (We made it, alive.)
Principality of Pontinha: fascinating little bit of sovereignty on the coast of Funchal. A small inlet, with remnants of an old fort, and a small cave smaller than my apartment on Broadway. Purchased legally and now claimed to be it's own country, with merely four residents - the royal family, of whom the king is an art teacher, his wife and children, and many feral cats. Only frequented by "Prince Renato" himself, and the occasional tourist who (like us) might have stumbled upon the place accidentally while looking for a nice view.
"The Principality of Pontinha has not happened any miracles, we have no legend, but it was here that invented love."
After realizing we could absolutely no longer take on the 2+ mile 95% incline hike up to our Airbnb another day, we rented a Vespa (!!!), followed an extremely elementary map and drove up and up and up, through banana tree groves, mountain neighborhoods, through extreme changes of climate, and above the cloud line. Just like magic.
Pure magic... living and loving above a cloud. I can't even post these here without getting a shiver down my spine, or an involuntary smile, or drifting off into a daydream. Magic is real and I felt it here, lately when I've been down I think about this moment: I'm on the back on this Vespa, Matt's driving, I'm hugging him tight, maybe I was a little afraid but I've forgotten how to fear now, we're both giggling like kids as we whiz through clouds, thinking about how unreal life is, an laughing that this magic is our reality. Magic and beauty is tangible and real and sometimes it's a 20 Euro plane ticket away (and sometimes it's right in front of you, so rent the Vespa and drive it as high as it will go.)
Evening on top of Funchal. When you accidentally plan your trip around Carnival... you go to the parade, dance with the Portuguese babes and drink 1 Euro shots of rum in a chocolate cup all night (yikes! Funchal knows how to party!)
Ohhh, Portugal! "Saudade" for days after leaving my heart on the absolutely nuts Funchal airport tarmac.
Portugal is lovely and underrated and cheap and sweet and beautiful and gave me so much more than I knew I needed. A full heart and a happiness I can smile about now, when I recall a time dancing in Sabotage Lisbon or waking up with a view of The Igreja de Santo Ildefonso or riding a Vespa through clouds. Portugal, cada dia que passa eu me apaixono mais por você.