Searching for Home in Portugal

Secretly, my mission across Europe had been finding a potential base for when I’m done in Africa a couple years from now. I thought that after two years of constant motion I’d probably be ready for a bit of a base. Not a home entrenched in cement, but a base for exploration. I’ve always said I’ve felt most at home in Medellin, Colombia, but is Colombia a realistic base for a traveller?

I dreamed of finding a place in Europe that captured my spirit the same way Medellin did. A place that is full of life, friendly people, and a diverse array of cultures. As I explored the UK, France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain one country seemed to always jump out at me: Portugal.

Rosso Square, Lisbon, Pano

Rosso Square in Lisbon

I’m not sure what it is about Portugal. Maybe it’s the delicious food, the near perfect weather, or maybe just the fact that it is overlooked by so many travellers; in comparison to major Spanish cities, Lisbon is a sleepy village. It is alive with colour and character. Unlike the grey wash of London, there is no mistaking what city you are in while meandering down the narrow streets of a Portuguese city. I’ve grown to love places of cultural melange, while for years I had been advocating cultural mosaic.

Sintra, Portugal

Sintra

There is something about the blending of cultures and people in Portugal that captures my spirit. It seems as though everyone is accepted, not as immigrants or visitors, but as citizens. While of course the simplicity of such statement has obvious holes, there is no doubting the fact that the cultural melting pot is alive and well in Portugal.

Portugal, Coastline, Coast

The coast of Portugal

However, at the end of the day I found myself doing the same thing that I do with nearly everywhere I’ve been in the world: I began comparing it to Colombia. And although, yes, the location is more globally central, I’m not sure it can stack up. There is something about Colombia that has a hold on me. I can’t explain it; it’s not the climate, the location, the language, the culture or even the women that have a hold on me. And maybe I’ll never be quite sure what it is that makes the place feel like home. But I suppose home is never meant to explained, it just is.

While I enjoyed Portugal as much as anywhere in Europe, it seems that my search for a home, or at least a base, continues. Or perhaps, I’ve already found it and I’m just far too stubborn to admit it.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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6 Comments

  1. Nice shots Brendan!

    Its funny, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen pictures from Portugal. Italy, Spain and France get covered so much, seem like Portugal gets left out. Really makes me want to go see it – love the shot of Rosso Square.

    Thanks!

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  2. Have you tried the Canary Islands?? Well, I’m bound to say that, aren’t I! Not, it goes without saying, the resorts, but the cities like Santa Cruz de Tenerife or the smaller island, where there are still loads of unspoiled places. At one time the fact of having to first go to a major hub, like Madrid (2 hours) or London (4 hours) used to irk me, but in this area low cost airlines have done us a huge favor. More flying than if you lived within easy reach of major airport, yes, but the cost isn’t too bad now. I always look for an alternative (I was born that way anyway), and if it were feasible I’d move in a heartbeat, just for the sake of a new experience. No where is perfect, but I find the islands always draw me back.

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  3. Nice shots Brendan, it’s Rossio Square btw, shoudl correct that :)

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    • Oooops, what did I type? haha fixing it right as soon as I get proper internet!

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  4. I think you have a sound plan. Moving around constantly is cool but I don’t want to be “that guy” who has seen the world but can call nowhere “home” but their parents. I am building a base in the Caribbean and I’m sure we’ll have LOTS of time to talk about things…

    Have a great weekend, good sir.

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    • Thanks for the comment Rob. Where are you at in the Caribbean? I love it there!

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