There are two points in Europe, when conjoined with a mild arc, to the south of which we see the places of Latin culture. The end closer to us, Lemberg, is already well known to the readers of río Wang, although since 1939 does not fit any more to the abbreviation Polonia. But about the other end, Lisbon, the capital of Portugal little has been said so far.

Nevertheless, it is a place where I felt the same certainty as in Lemberg: I will come back, this wonderful place does not let me go. Although otherwise, when I leave a city, I always look back a little, because saying farewell is always sad – I begin to feel what the Portuguese express with the word soudade –, but now this did not happen. Here, I will come back.

What do the Portuguese give, what does this city give you? Everything to everyone, I think, but especially to me, what I need now.

The city

The first night, while walking, I felt that the houses were friendly and familiar. Well, of course. The same eyes, the same hearts, the same spirit designed these buildings, as at the other end, in Lemberg. That Latin colorfulness, the narrow streets, balconies and terraces, which were born under the hands of Italian masters in 16th and 17th-century Lemberg, here create the same atmosphere from the 18th on. The milieu of Lisbon is very similar to that of Lemberg, as if the two cities still held each other’s hand – but they do not look in the same direction. The one peered through the mist of the ocean to the far away end of the world and the fabulous Eldorado, while the other often anxiously looked toward the darkening woods, wondering who would emerge from behind them. Lisbon is surely beloved by its residents.


And here, on this square I fell in love with this place.

The ocean

It’s different. Very different. In geography lesson we wrote: seven-tenths of the Earth is covered with water, but we do not feel and do not understand what it means. Here comes the moment for both. When you hear the water striking against the wall of the pier, or shaking the ferry port, you will understand it. And when you enter it, you will feel it, in a weird dichotomy: it caresses you like the warm-watered lake Balaton, but sometimes it also shows it strength: be careful, man, in a good part of the world I am the master.

Guitar music in the evening port. In the background, the sounds of the ocean

The people living here surely feel this. Columbus was laughed at by his contemporaries not for his view that the Earth is spherical –  as it is spread about with a dull anti-medievalism, although even Umberto Eco has already written its refutation – but for his audacity: how can be so reckless, to sail against this power with a wooden trough? Even the Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator traveled only little, and his journeys – like those of all contemporary sailors – carefully followed the coastline.

The people

Friendly, relaxed people live here, this is the City of Sincere Smile. Beautiful people, women and men, the faces of many of them is painted in gold and coffee colors by vivacious blood and the sun. Their gazes bear witness to that world without haste, which probably all of us long for. With a smile and with cheerful gestures everything can be arranged. This can be seen in the look of the older lady who runs the restaurant, “where are you hurrying?” when I order without looking at the menu, and the same look becomes respectful, when I order vinho verde to the Portuguese-style steak made with white wine, with which the loud Russian and rigid German tourists drink beer. This is in the cheerful twinkling eyes and irresistible smiles of the Angolan girl, who was a pioneer in Cuba. In the mysteriously gleaming whiteness of the eyes of the Africans. And in the sad look of another girl, when I say goodbye to her before starting to the airport.

For us Hungarians, there is also a place where this feeling gives way to pleasant pride. This is the entrance of the Light Stadium of Benfica Sport Club.

Béla Guttman

Miklós Fehér

The language

The renowned early 20th-century Hungarian author Dezső Kosztolányi, the show pupil son of the school director, started to learn Portuguese on a summer holiday. He called it “a loose Latin”, and wrote about many funny and sweet surprises about this “flirt with the spirit of mankind”. To me, the sweetest thing in this “flirt” is the accents. Many words end in os, which must be usually pronounced as us, but it depends on your mood, what it becomes in the given moment. Proud contempt? Ús. Anger? Uss. Will you stop talking? Uzh. Don’t they pay attention to you? Úúús.

Kosztolányi imagined himself a tyrant who “motivated” him in learning Portuguese. If he could just have come here, he would have probably not spoken about a tyrant, but the smoothness and warmth of the air, the old houses of the city, the people. With them, you can learn Portuguese much sooner.

And we will not forget about this city. We will soon write about it again.

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