I Love Portugal!

July 18, 2012 | ChangingCourse.com

I love Portugal!

Super helpful, friendly people, great food (especially the seafood), and beautiful scenery.

Toss in a stay at an exquisite 19th century palace converted into a 5-star and what’s not to like?


I could get used to this!

I was in Lisbon to speak at the McDonald’s European Women’s Leadership Conference attended by nearly 200 women from some 20 countries as far away as Russia.

It was clear from the start that women across cultures share many of the same achievement-related challenges. Some of the roadblocks like the surprising lack of childcare in even highly developed European countries like Germany are societal in nature.

Winner of eight French football/soccer championships fellow speaker Nicole Abar is no stranger to social barriers. Being half Algerian meant Nicole grew up under the weight of racism.

A gifted athlete, she found her salvation in football only to hit a glass ceiling. After the French football establishment cut all funding for the women’s team Nicole took them to court — and won.

Other barriers to success are internal.

I hope my presentation helped boost the confidence of these highly competent women. I say “hope” because for the majority of attendees English is not their first language.

As a fellow American at McDonald’s working in London joked, “We’re both much funnier in America!”

Fun itself though is universal. Watching the big Portugal vs. Spain football/soccer game with a group of enthusiastic Europeans was a blast.

And I did get to do a bit of sight-seeing.

I was especially intrigued with the stone sidewalks that are everywhere in Portugal.

All the stones are hand-cut and had such depth and texture that they looked like art. What do you think?

My return flight was delayed a whopping 10 hours. So I decided to take the train to Sintra, a gorgeous area with multiple castles and not far from the picturesque shoreline.

That is until I ran into an enterprising geographer named António Tavares trying to drum up customers for his new tour business. Greenwalk is the only Portuguese tour company that caters to nature-lovers as well as to people who are sight-impaired.

It was too late to catch the “I Hate Tourism Tour.” And being a total a sucker for small businesses, off I went with António.

As you can see from the photos, it was a wise choice. He took me to fabulous places. And I gave him advice on how to grow his struggling business — naturally.