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Portugal profile

Porto, PT (View on map)
Posted 26 Oct 2007:

Three countries ago, I was in Finland, at the extreme North East of Europe. I have now arrived at the complete other end: Portugal. Comparing Finland and Portugal is a worthwhile exercise. They are each other`s opposite in almost any way you can think of. Read below story, imagine the opposite and you will know all there is to know about both Finland and Portugal.... Read more

Family matters

Porto, PT (View on map)
Posted 27 Oct 2007:

Some countries embrace change, some embrace tradition. Portugal falls in the second category. Family comes first, followed by football as second and everything else third. Old people are respected for their experience. Young people are launched on a track that others have walked before. Every step you take is strictly monitored by family members and turning down their inevitable advice is not something you do without thinking twice.... Read more

Boring Sunday?

Coimbra, PT (View on map)
Posted 29 Oct 2007:

Thinking of shopping on a Sunday? Not in Portugal. It all happens on Saturday morning, for clothes and food alike. Open air markets attract masses of people and shopping streets fill up. Halfway Saturday afternoon, most shops close their doors only to re-open them on Monday. If it wasn`t for the restaurants and supermarkets, the streets of the city would be empty on Sundays. How do people keep themselves busy when everything is shut?... Read more

What to say

Coimbra, PT (View on map)
Posted 29 Oct 2007:

`Speaking is silver, silence is gold`. Many northern countries embrace this saying, but it does not work very well in Portugal. People like to socialise, talk to each other and spend time with each other and silence is not invited to the scene. Today, I am trying to find out how people start and end their conversations, and what words and gestures they use inbetween.... Read more

In the news

Coimbra, PT (View on map)
Posted 30 Oct 2007:

Apart from different events taking place in different country, media coverage about these events also tends to differ a lot. The United Kingdom has its famous tabloids, Finland has its strictly impartial and factual way of reporting. Portugal is somewhat in the middle of all that. I bought a decent-looking newspaper today and asked people to help me read along or comment on the events.... Read more

Snacks and fast food

Lisbon, PT (View on map)
Posted 31 Oct 2007:

Fast food has conquered Western Europe, but Portugal has so far managed to limit its exposure to the hamburger culture. McDonald`s has its restaurants here, for sure, but they are far less numerous than in the rest of Western Europe. Also its siblings from Pizza Hut and Burger King have not yet been able to break the hegemony of local smaller shops, and especially, the pattern of local food habits.... Read more

Religion in Portugal

Lisbon, PT (View on map)
Posted 1 Nov 2007:

Taking care of the family is a national duty in Portugal. It is an endless practice that doesn`t even come to an end when a loved one passes away. It`s All Saints Day today, and many people are heading to the cemeteries to pay respect to late family members. 1 November is one out of many Christian holidays observed by the Portuguese. Which is not a surprise if you imagine that a large majority of the Portuguese classifies themselves as Catholics. ... Read more

Crossing Portugal

Lisbon, PT (View on map)
Posted 2 Nov 2007:

Cars are popular in Portugal and, unless you live in the city centre of Lisbon, you could hardly do without. The daily influx of cars from the suburbs into Lisbon cause heavy congestions every day, but the city would not be the same without the endless orchestra of claxons. Today, I am trying to figure out if and how people avoid getting struck in traffic.... Read more

Caring about the future

Beja, PT (View on map)
Posted 4 Nov 2007:

Global warming is a controversial issue. Some say it exists, others say that climate changes are only natural and have nothing to do with human activity heating the atmosphere. One thing is sure: weather patterns throughout the European continent are changing. Portugal is starting to become more and more aware that it needs to care about the environment if it doesn`t want the Sahara to cross over from Africa. ... Read more

Public or Private?

Evora, PT (View on map)
Posted 5 Nov 2007:

Everyone who falls sick or goes to university basically has one fundamental choice: public or private. In health care, public stands for slow, inefficient but affordable. In education, the situation is quite different: public universities have very strict admission policies and in many cases are more prestigious than private ones. Here`s a quick overview of both systems.... Read more

Colonial friends

Lisbon, PT (View on map)
Posted 6 Nov 2007:

All countries that I have visited on my trip have been involved in independence struggles. Ireland, Finland and the Baltic States have been occupied but (re)gained independence. Scotland is having issues with England, while Sweden at one point occupied most of Scandinavia. Portugal, although a quite modest country today, was one of the world`s biggest colonisers during the previous millennium, a situation which still has consequences today.... Read more

Fado and Smelly Cats

Lisbon, PT (View on map)
Posted 7 Nov 2007:

Yesterday`s article about immigration showed that some subjects cut countries in half and opposes people to one another. Fortunately, there are also issues that unite different cultures. It would be hard to find a place people watch no sports and don`t listen to music. In the modern world, TV is one the most common media to send entertainment into people`s homes. Internet has added the feature of global accessibility to it, allowing virtually anybody from anywhere to view the same content. Still, each country has different preferences. Here`s a list of some entertainment stuff that is popular in Portugal.... Read more

Iberian battles

Castelo Branco, PT (View on map)
Posted 8 Nov 2007:

It`s quite normal for small countries to have a negative view on their big neighbours. Whether it`s a minority complex, arrogance of the neighbour or troubled relations in the past, people from small countries will find reasons to support their dislike of the bigger country next door. The same in Portugal. Even though the Portuguese are quick to admit that Spain offers more opportunities for a better life, their general perception of the Spanish is rather negative.... Read more

EU Support

Porto, PT (View on map)
Posted 9 Nov 2007:

Portuguese people are fond of flags. Walk around in a random Portuguese city or neighbourhood and you will see plenty of flags hanging out of windows or waving proudly over public buildings. Since 1986, a second flag appeared next to the Portuguese one: the twelve-starred flag of the European Union. When displayed on a sign instead of decorating a flagpole, it is likely to indicate a project has been co-funded by the EU. Huge funds have been pumped into Portugal since it joined the EU. However, the results seem less convincing than the achievements of Spain and Ireland, who joined almost at the same time and had similar economies before entering the EU.... Read more

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