Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks Week One: Portugal

Well folks! Welcome to the first Friday Series post. I’m still looking for a name for it, but for now I’m going to go with “Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks” thanks to a suggestion from one of Noveltea’s readers. If you have any suggestions, please let me know them! 
This post took me quite a bit longer to write than I had imagined, there’s a lot of research going on here. Hopefully next week I’ll be on time. Also: Please take note that I’m new to this, just like y’all are. If you have any ideas of how to make it more interesting, please let me know. (I’d be so delighted to hear your thoughts!) I plan on adding in a plot line in addition to exploring countries, but that’s going to take some work. Also, the rest of the posts shouldn’t be quite as long, but I had to fit so much into this first one.
I seriously had so much fun this week researching Portugal and at times really felt as if I were visiting it myself. I had the weather for Lisbon up on my phone, I looked at lots of pictures, researched the history, the best places to visit, cool facts, the foods, what they were famous for, and all that good kind of stuff. I’m quite excited about Monday now and can hardly wait to find out where we are going next. 
And now, without further ado… 

source

Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks 
Week One: Portugal 
7:05 a.m.
Monday, January 4th
 Columbus, Ohio, USA
The room erupted into noise as I opened my eyes. A camera flash went off and I heard someone dialing on their phone before I even looked down to see where my finger had landed. Portugal? 
“Annie! This is so exciting.” Sophie, my co-worker, squeezed my arm. “I’ve always wanted to visit Portugal.” She began rapidly typing on her smart phone. “Look at this, is that not the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever seen?” Somewhere across the room a printer whirled to life.
Looking down I found myself starring at high red cliffs with white waves crashing below them. “I’m going there?” I felt my mouth drop open. “Yikes.” 
“Alright, Annie,” my boss hurried over with a folder of papers in her hand. “It looks like the weather is going to be in the fifties and sixties the whole week with a bunch of rain. Fahrenheit, that is.” She flipped through the papers and handed me one that had a plane ticket and itinerary paper clipped to it. “Your flight leaves at 2:23 this afternoon so you have about seven and a half hours to do research, answer interviews, get a blog posted, a vlog off to your editing team, etc… Any questions?” 
A million or so of them entered my mind, but answering them was my job, not hers. “No, this is great, thank you.” 
“Alight then. Sophie will stay with you in case you need anything,” turning around her authoritative voice rang out, “Back to your stations, people!” 
The room soon became silent except for Sophie clacking away on the keyboard of the computer across from me, the printer starting up again, and the sound of airplanes taking off.  I took a deep breath and sat down. First things first. I pulled up my phone and punched in my mom’s number then pushed it onto speakerphone and started my own research while waiting for her to answer. 
It had been almost six months before when I first found out about this job. I had written a freelance article about packing effectively while traveling and next thing I knew I had an email from  Exploration Airlines. At first I thought it was spam and almost deleted it; that would have been bad. The email stated that a representative of Exploration Airlines (EA) had read my article and was interested in talking with me about undertaking a few writing projects for them. I thought they were talking about freelancing, but no, they offered me a full-time job. They needed someone to keep up their social media and after several interviews they decided I was the person for the job.
They said they wanted more publicity and to be known as the best airlines for people exploring the world so I set out to make that happen. The idea of having someone travel around for a full year, one country per week chosen at random, was originally my idea. It hadn’t occurred to me that I would be the person when I first wrote up the proposal for EA. Here I was though, after five months chocked full of planning, about ready to head off on a year-long adventure. The job didn’t pay much, but who needed money when given a chance to travel the world?
“There’s a reporter from The Times here for the interview,” my boss poked her head in the doorway. “And we have a news crew from Destination Live coming in an hour.”  
I gave her a thumbs up right as Mom answered the phone, “Annie?” 
“Hey Mom, I don’t have time to talk now, but I wanted to let you know I’m heading to Portugal.” 
“Oh, yay!” Mom was who I got my traveling-and-history-loving genes from. “They have the oldest bookstore in the world, you know.” 
“Really?”
“Make sure you visit it.” I could hear the glee coming through in her voice. “I’ll be praying for you, good-bye, darling.” 
“Thanks, Mom. Bye, I love you.” 
“Love you, too.” 
I hung up right as the reporter entered the room. 
6:35 a.m. 
Tuesday, January 5th
Lisbon, Portugal 
I was really here. I could hardly wrap my mind around the fact. I yawned and made my way over to the bus. It was a bit difficult figuring everything out since it was in Portuguese and I was suffering from jet lag, but eventually I got to Corinthia, the hotel where Sophie had booked a room for me. I left my luggage at the front desk since it wasn’t check-in time yet. Then I left to find some breakfast; I had eaten on the plane, but I was already hungry again. 
I ordered scrambled eggs and salmon with fresh orange juice and ate while perusing the internet and finalizing my plans for the day. There was a light rain coming down and so I decided my first stop would be the Lisbon bookshop Mom had told me about. After some quick checking I found out I could get there by bus and it would only take about twenty-two minutes. 
“Well you look American.” 
The accented greeting I received when I stepped inside Bertrand’s Bookstore made me smile, “I am.” 
“I’m Jake.” The guy shook my and then gestured toward the books, “Is this your first time here?” 
“It is.” I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply; the scent of books and a million stories, some written in pages and some lived out in real life, invaded my senses. “I heard this is the oldest bookstore in the world?” I touched the dark wood bookshelves and imagined how many generations before me had done the same thing. 
“That’s true. We were founded in 1732.” 
“And it’s been open ever since?” 
“Not quite. Unfortunately it was destroyed back in 1755 when there was a massive earthquake. It was moved to this location in 1773 and has been going ever since.” 
“Woah, that’s impressive.” The bookstore wasn’t crowded so I made my way slowly along it asking questions as I went. 
“You’re really interested in the history of Lisbon, aren’t you?” Jake raised an eyebrow as I made my toward the travel guides that were written in English. 
“I work for a travel blog.” I grinned, it felt so cool to say the words. A thought popped into my head, “Would you consider letting me interview you?” I slipped my backpack off. 
“I’d be happy to, but I will have to stop if another customer needs me.” 
“Thank you.” I pulled out a release and an information form so Jake could enter all the pertinent information that he would like to be featured on the blog {Side note: I still need a name for this blog and the story, Noveltea readers! Offer suggestions in the comments if you feel so inclined.} After explaining the details to Jake I pulled out my iPhone and started recording our conversation and got out my pen and notebook. “Oh, and by the way, my name is Indiana Anderson, but most people call me Annie.” 
“It’s good to meet you, Annie.”
I glanced at the pages of questions I had jotted down on my flight over. “Alright, first off, what would you consider to be the coolest random fact about Portugal?” 
“Only one?” Jake frowned. “There are so many it will be hard to make my choice.” His forehead creased in thought. “Perhaps that the royal House of Bragança, which ruled Portugal from 1640-1910, was so wealthy, they didn’t charge taxes on its land for 120 years.” 
“For real?” I stopped my note taking and looked up, “You’re making that up, right?” 
“Of course not.” The door opened just then and Jake looked over his shoulder. He called out rapidly in Portuguese for a minute and a petite woman with black hair came to join us. “This is my fiancée, Jen. Her English isn’t good, but she can answer the questions as well.” 
I shook her hand, then Jake said something to her in Portuguese. 
“She says the coolest fact is that Portugal once had a dead Queen.” 
“A queen that died?” I questioned, not sure how that was so cool. 
“No, no, no. See, when Pedro I was crowned King of Portugal in 1357, he proclaimed his lover, Ines de Castro, to be Queen, despite the fact that she had died in 1355.” 
I gave a half-laugh, “That is pretty cool.” I flipped through my notes, “And, on the subject of royalty, why don’t you each tell me what you think if the most interesting ruling fact about Portugal’s history?”
“That is an easy one as well.” Jake translated for Jen and then turned his attention back to me, “The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance between England and Portugal is the oldest alliance today that’s still in force.” 
“Sounds impressive.” 
“It was singed in 1373 and states that if either country enters war, then the other county will help defend them.” 
“Wait a second.” I held up my finger. “This alliance was signed in 1373? How long did it last?” 
“It’s still in force today.” 
“No way. That, that means that they’ve had this alliance going on since before Columbus discovered America!” 
“True.”
Jake went off to help some customers then and I followed Jen as she showed me her favorite places in the bookstore. The ambiance was unreal and I felt amazed that I hadn’t heard of the bookstore until twenty-four hours before. 
When Jake came back he and Jen conversed for a moment then Jake asked if I was ready for Jen’s answer. I re-opened my note book and nodded. 
“She says that Lisbon is older than Rome; second in age for European capitals only to Athens. It is believed to have been settled in 1200 BC.”
I nodded, “Neat.”  
“And at one time half of the “New World” belonged to Portugal, including Brazil, and parts of Africa, and Asia.” 
“Portugal sounds like it was quite the powerful empire.” 
I asked a few more questions and then they gave me a list of popular places I should visit and experiences I should have while in their country. I thanked them and bought a couple of books and left my business card before moving on to explore the rest of the country.
During the rest of the week I visited museums, old castles, went on a ride in a wicker toboggan sled on the streets in Funchal, and ate more fish than I had ever imagined (some people say they have a thousand different ways to fix cod in Portugal!). I traveled across the Vasco da Gama Bridge, which is the longest bridge in Europe. I walked on the beaches, which hold the record for the biggest wave ever to be surfed, coming in at around 90 feet. I explored the streets of Coimbra, which is home of one of the oldest universities in Europe. And I ate massive amounts of my new favorite dish: Piri Piri Sauce which includes chilies, garlic, onion, lemon juice and paprika and is delicious.
All throughout the week I took notes and lots of short videos and then at night I would sit up in my hotel room with a view of the city stretched out below me and type up blog posts and put together vlogs. It was amazing. By the time Sunday rolled around I found a church to attend (even though it wasn’t in English) and then happily spent the rest of the day resting. Monday morning I would be off to a new country. 

2 thoughts on “Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks Week One: Portugal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s