A Day In Portugal
“To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them.”- Michael Singer
The third course of our schooling: Portugal. The greatest lesson we felt like life was trying to teach us during our time in Portugal has been to remain centered and present in the midst of all the chaos that can come along with traveling. Throughout these past two weeks, we have encountered classic travel woes such as credit card issues, accommodation inconveniences, and a few minor health issues. If we were back at home, none of these would have been an issue, and if they were, there would be an easy fix or a quick solution. However, being in a foreign country, without being able to speak the native language, with no cell service, made it extremely difficult to keep calm, collected, and centered. Just as we were writing this blog post, when we were almost finished with it, an “unknown error” occurred and only a rough draft of our post was saved. 2 hours of work, gone, just like that!
When we left the island, we left with great esteem at what lied ahead and felt God had a blissful path in line for us. However, sitting on the subway last night, having the night end early because of credit card issues, we sat and wondered what God was trying to tell us. Why is this series of unfortunate events happening to us? Trying to figure this out, we took a step back and looked at the situation as the watcher, also known as the silent witness. The simple way of looking at this, is to imagine that there is two of you in your mind. You have the ego, which is the voice commenting on every aspect of life- judging, complaining, fearing, and expressing all other types of melodrama. Then you have the watcher, which is your true self, the self that has intuition, where all creativity comes from, and where peace lies. The voice in your head is just a voice, it is not your true being, it is just what we have come to identify with. The watcher is not the voice inside your head that is screaming, angry, irritated, or cursing whoever or whatever out because of the current challenging situation or debacle. The watcher is the one who is capable of seeing situations for all they are worth, and with great clarity on how to move forward. It’s so easy to get caught up in being angry and overwhelmed by a situation when it’s different than you planned in your mind. These plans we create in our minds are just ways of organizing life a certain way, in order to give yourself control, which in turn will make you feel comfortable(or so we are taught). By taking a step back, it dawned on us that this is just what he is trying to teach us, or better yet, the muscle he is trying to grow in us.
I challenge you to think deeply on this voice in your head. Try to become a silent witness to your thoughts, which are racing like a bat out of hell, always. They are giving constant commentary on your life- likes, dislikes, fears, wants, hesitancies, resistance, etc. Seriously, it has an opinion and comment about everything you do- just listen. You can’t shut off the voice, you will just add commentary, simply just recognize, watch, and listen. For most, the distinction between the watcher and the voice in your head has never been made. Many will go their whole life not knowing one from the other. Only once you recognize the voice and see what chaos and disorder it’s causing in your head, will you fully understand how much it controls and runs your life. We are constantly trying to differentiate between the voice and the watcher. It’s so easy to get caught up in our thoughts and the constant chatter without even realizing we’re wasting time and energy doing that. The voice in your head is not bad; it’s what makes us human. In order to make this distinction, you need to know that it’s always going to be there. So accept that and embrace it, and at the same time try to recognize and separate from it. Throughout these minor obstacles we have been tested, and although we are still learning to make the distinction when challenges arise, it is so comforting to know that once we notice the voice, we can separate it from our true self and be able to stay calm and centered in situations that are difficult and test us.
For those more interested in this awakening, we highly recommend reading Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer, as well as The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle. Below we have put a link to some videos of interviews with Michael Singer and Oprah, which can give you more insight about what we’ve been learning through his life changing books.
Where we've been: After leaving Santa Maria on September 1st, we flew straight to Portugal’s beautiful capital- Lisbon. We were fortunate enough to stay with a cousin who has a house there and she was able to show us sites that really gave us a feel for the people and culture that live there. After a week in Lisbon, we decided to take a bus and start working our way up the coast. Our first stop was Nazare, a city about 76 miles North of Lisbon where the largest wave was ever surfed. It was a beautiful beach town full of energy, life, and great food! After being in Nazare for 3 days, we went further north up the coast, and took a 3 hour bus ride to Porto. Porto is known for its Port wine and its location, where it borders each side of the Douro River. All the places we went in Portugal were spectacular, but something about Porto made it our favorite city not only in Portugal, but so far our favorite city that we’ve ever visited. The culture, the architecture, the views, the food, the wine, our AirBnB host, everything we experienced in this city was nothing short of amazing and if you’re ever in Portugal, we HIGHLY recommend visiting this marvelous place.
Portugal has offered us with some of the most delicious food we have ever eaten. Being the "foodies" we are, we make it a strong point to make sure we find the best food available to us wherever we travel. From the best Indian food we’ve ever eaten, to amazing traditional and unique Portuguese food, to gourmet world cuisine in the past two weeks, our taste buds have been spoiled to say the least. Below we have listed some pictures and the names of the restaurants that made us wanting to go back for more the second we left.
-Theophilu’s located in cais de gaia, Porto
-Masala located in Cascais, Lisbon
-Pangeia located in Nazare
-Little India located in Nazare
-Graham’s located in cais de gaia, Porto(Graham's is a port wine tasting room with amazing wine, views of the city, and atmosphere. If you like port wine, put this on your checklist to visit!)
-The Beer Museum located in Lisbon(try the beer sangria, we loved it!)
-Parque rooftop bar located in Lisbon
Incredible sights we have seen: Traveling up the coast of Portugal has been breathtakingly beautiful. From Lisbon and Sintra’s castles and palaces, to Nazare’s cliffs and beaches, to Porto's architecture and history. Throughout these past 2 weeks, we have been in awe of this countries beauty and scenery. Here were our favorite places and must see's if you ever find yourself in Portugal!
-Castle St. Jorge located in Lisbon
-The whole downtown and city centre located in Lisbon
-Cascais located in Lisbon
-Palace do Pena located in Sintra
-Obidos castle located in Sintra
-Nazare(little beach town 1-2 hours north of Lisbon)
- Cais de Gaia located in Porto
-Buy 2 day yellow bus pass if ever in Porto(takes you all around the city and you can get on and off the bus)
-Visit Quinta da Boeira located in Porto(largest wine bottle in the world)