Reflections In Carcavelos
Trip Start Aug 22, 2012
8Trip End Aug 28, 2012
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Carcavelos is only a 20 minute train ride away from Lisbon, so it’s easily accessible. Its only drawback is that the beach itself is a 10 minute walk from the station on a road that has absolutely nothing on it – no shops, no refreshments, no shade, no nothing. It became almost unbearable to walk along the road in the midday sun – the one good thing was that at least the road was flat
The first thing that has struck me is how multicultural Lisbon seems to be. It may seem trivial but a good indicator of that was the beach itself. Normally on Spanish beaches, black people on the beaches tend to be foreign (ie British, like myself, or American), here, however, the people I spoke to identified themselves as Portuguese or African. There are still black people peddling wares on the beach, but it's good to see that they are not restricted to that. I love Spain, but Portugal seems to be a far more open society. Of course, this is just an impression. Whatever the reason, it’s good to see the beaches being used by everyone.
I’ve heard conflicting accounts of immigration policy here. One guide, Carlos, said that any immigrant who comes here clearly demonstrating that they are willing to work is welcomed with open arms. He claimed that Portugal has an open door policy with regards to their former colonies, which includes Angola, Mozambique, Brazil and East Timor amongst many others. According to him, these immigrants are also able to apply for citizenship (or even dual nationality) within one month of arrival
Something else that is noteworthy is the fact that drugs, or rather marijuana, are openly sold on the streets. That’s not to say that it doesn’t go on in Barcelona, but it doesn’t happen nearly to the same extent as it does in Lisbon. Here in Lisbon, they are as prevalent as the Pakistani beer sellers in Barcelona. Furthermore, unlike in Barcelona, they are not restricted to the night time, they can be clearly seen trying to deal in the middle of the day in what are tourist areas. I’m sure the police are doing something about it, but they seem to be ineffectual.
Another comparison: the Latin character doesn’t lend itself easily to learning another language. The French, Spanish and Italians all find it notoriously difficult to learn English (a sweeping generalisation, I know), so I wasn’t really sure of what to expect in Portugal. I imagined I would have to suffer trying to speak pidgin English or bastardised Spanish/Catalan to make myself understood. Boy, was I wrong! Most people speak English, Spanish and French really well. It would seem that one of the reasons for that is television. Television programmes are always shown in the original version with Portuguese subtitles, so from a very early age, they are used to listening to these languages even before they are formally taught in schools. Obviously, most people I’ve spoken to have been in the service industry, so it’s a requirement of their job, but despite that, even speaking to an average person in the street, they are usually able to understand you quite well, even if they can’t express themselves in English as well as they might like.
Finally, there’s the food. I’d heard a lot about the food, so I was expecting a lot. I’m pleased to report that I haven’t been disappointed. Pork and clams; grilled sardines; rice with seafood; seafood pasta. It’s all been great. It’s definitely a gastronomic paradise. Better than Spain? Just different.
Could I live in Lisbon? If not for the seven hills, most definitely.