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Life is Never Flat!


Before landing, I met a university student who live in Porto named Simon. Initially, I wanted to ask the route to travel from Porto Airport to UMinho Residence at St. Tecla. But, apparently, with a kindly, he took me until the train station in Braga. Actually, a friend from Indonesia, which has been lived here sent travel instructions already. However, Simon was very worried since it was my first experience and that I was alone. Also tragically, I was not fluent in Portuguese.


My first confusion was how to use metro tickets from automated machines. In addition to the procedures that I did not understand, and people who waited in line behind made me nervous. I also did not have a little money I could put into the machine. Again, Simon helped and gave me his tickets. When we got in Braga railway station, I did not stop to thanked Simon. After lunch, we parted because I had to find a taxi and Simon had to find a train in the direction of Porto. When we would leave the cafe, Simon was looked confused to found his bag.  Soon we realized Simon’s bag was left in the metro. Simon immediately panicked because his laptop, important files, and money were in the bag. I offered to gave my money to Simon, but Simon refused. “I still have a few coins to buy tickets to Porto Campanha,” he said. I felt so guilty.

All things that are happened at the first time will seem confusing. Well, not only food, but also many other things that differ between my country and Portugal. That does not mean that one is better than the others. Sometimes difference appears as an adjustment to the situation and condition to the certain place.

I don’t know why, chili in my country is much cheaper. And mostly, food in Portugal is not spicy. In Indonesia, dishes are more varied and mostly spicy. Perhaps because we are in tropical area, so that more vegetables and herbs can grow easier. Besides people eat more vegetables than meat in my country. I think we do not need a lot of energy because of differences in temperature between dry and rainy season in Indonesia is not far, for example. While in Portugal, for me, the difference between winter and summer is extreme, so it may cause people need more kinds of food from meat to keep their body warm and stable. But basically, I liked Portuguese and Indonesian food.  


The most striking difference is the population in Portugal. It is far less than my country, or we can say one twentieth times less than my country. Though indeed my country more widespread, but I feel life here is a little lonely. Sometimes, I feel life is more peaceful here, but also I miss the hustle and distinctiveness of my place.


One unique thing is about language. In Portugal, in all regions people use a single language although with different accents. This allows me who was just learning Portuguese easier to communicate. But don’t expect it is happened in my country. Although we have a national language, but every region, every tribe, every city, has its own language. My country has 726 languages, and I am proud of it. So don’t be surprised if in a public space a lot of different people uses different languages to converse.


I can find so many things that are new and great around Europe. I had long holiday at Christmas and travelled to some great countries. I could take a picture under Eiffel Tower that was amazing, even it became romantic at night.


I had to buy a ticket to climbed Eiffel tower. It was so long queue. I walked stairs by stairs and saw people who was in line. I remembered a lot of friends wanted to visit this place, and I felt so lucky. I glanced some people who toke a breath for a while. I know it was hard for them, even I was so tired I didn’t reach the first floor yet. There was a long spiral stairs I have to reached. A man told me, I actually could buy a ticket for climbing Eiffel tower by elevator in the other side. But he told me after I got my “stairs ticket” already!


I toke some pictures around Eiffel tower that were so beautiful. There were some trees with unique shape I could see from the first floor, just liked a pillar. They are looked like holding something on their top. I saw a lot of couples sat in those garden, I might be why people named Paris as city of love.


If you go to Paris, you have to go to Louvre Museum. It was as beautiful as Eiffel. You could see a lot of famous pictures and sculptures. I knew this museum because I read it in Dan Brown’s novel, Da Vinci Code. I thought Mona Lisa would be bigger as I imagined. But I was totally wrong because it was small. But that was not a big deal. The bottom line was I could take the best one. I was so satisfied. Then I just walked around tried to found another pictures and sculptures from famous artists.


Before went to Paris, I went to Milan. I just knew that Milan is famous in Italian football. Also, Milan had a lot of beautiful places. I could also see snow and touch it for my first time. Because in my country, we only have rainy and dry season. Only some places in east part of Indonesia have snow, and I had not never been there. I would tell you something, but this is secret. I also felt those snow with my tongue It was a little weird and flat.


Piazza Duomo became my first place. But it also became the worst experience I have ever got. It was awesome. Some people gave me a colorful small bracelet. Well, actually I would call it just a rope than a bracelet. Only because they tied it to my hand, I named it bracelet. Their kindness made me did not realize to what they had done. They suddenly asked me some money for bracelet which had tied up in my hand already. I thought that it was free because they just gave me. They asked 50 euro. What?! They were crazy! But they were in group and I didn’t want anything bad would be happened to me. I negotiated, and finally they agreed accepted only 5 Euros after I said that I would tell police if they still forced me.


After walked 5 meters, another group gave me a handful of corn in my hand. The doves in front of Piazza Duomo suddenly surrounded me. Everyone  was seemed so kind to toke my picture while the doves ate my corns. But, then, they asked me 50 euros, again! Oh my God. I got into trap twice only in ten minutes. I gave him 5 euros and I walked fastly to go inside Piazza Duomo. Inside Piazza Duomo, I almost cried. It was happened so fast and I was careless. Now I realize, nothing is free in this world!


Because Milan is famous in soccer, I decided to visited San Siro Stadium, base camp of AC Milan and Inter Milan football club. I had to pay 12.5. They are famous and rich, so why do they still try to get another money from their fans? I toke a lot of free postcard as collection and toke a picture inside the museum although it was prohibited.


I went to Barcelona to celebrate Christmas also. I chose those place because it was warmer and cheaper than Milan or Paris. Barcelona isn?t a big city but this was a great place for me to be visited. I could walk around to go anywhere. When I was in city center, I just needed to walk 20 minutes to got beach. Along the street, I could find so many famous shopping store. And luckily, I got beautiful apartment to stay. They have free internet, 4 bathroom, beautiful balcony right beside the famous street (Av. Diagonal), terrace for lunch or dinner outside and garden behind. I could wash my clothes and use the kitchen free. The owner even allowed me to ate bread, rice, eggs, anything inside the refrigerator. It isn’t far from city centre also.


Still, I think Braga is the most beautiful place in Europe. People are more friendly and the society is calm. Anywhere I am there will be different. But difference is beautiful, because it makes life never flat!


Text: Rahman and Reza

(Pub. Jan/2010)

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