Recent news reporting the fall of the Portuguese government, the arrival of the IMF, the need of an economic rescue, big government deficit and high unemployment rates is making many people look at Portugal as if they’re looking at a developing country. (And perhaps made you wonder if you should postpone your holiday here). I'm surely not going to deny any of the above mentioned current events, but at the same time, I wonder when will the media be done sensationalizing this news?
It’s undeniable that Portuguese people are facing a bad economic period: unemployment affects 11% of the population and government keeps announcing cuts to our beloved Welfare State. Still, I'd say that our life here goes on. We talk about the crisis and our economic condition in the streets and cafés, but so have we been doing during the last 10 years, when the crisis was first announced in Portugal and no one suspected that it would become an economic crisis of global proportions. After the initial shock, people got used to the word “crisis”, got bored of endless news talking about unemployment, cuts and social cases... We stopped listening with such intensity and our lives went back to normal. Of course we worry, of course we save, of course some people are having financial problems, such as paying their mortgages, but maybe all this is now part of the above mentioned “normality”.
Every now and then a demonstration or a strike stops the country but none of these are violent. This April we celebrated the 37th anniversary of the Red Carnation Revolution, which put an end to 31 years of a fascist dictatorship without involving one single death, and I think that this sort of peaceful resolution shows the character of the Portuguese people.
People have not forgotten how inviting our long history can be, our world heritage monuments, rich gastronomy and wines, long sand beaches and lush golf courses, and everyone in Portugal is still very much looking forward to receiving tourists. You'd also maybe be surprised by our English skills and general education. Moreover, God decided to be kind and this year spring arrived earlier to our nation, inviting everyone to go to the beach or to enjoy our grilled sardines with a fresh sparkling wine in an open restaurant...I hope you aren’t going to miss all that we have to offer because of the recent frenzy of media coverage on the state of our economy.
If you’d like to carry on this conversation with Catia, and learn more about all the amazing ways you can spend your time in Lisbon, Sintra, Evora and beyond, you can contact her here: Private tours with Catia.