Which Portuguese grocery store are you?

You’re spending eight weeks abroad in Portugal, and you need somewhere to stay. What kind of accommodations do you look for?

a.  A hostel—I’m trying to save money but unless “roughin’ it” still includes single-serve Nutella cups, I’m out.

b.  Couchsurfing, obviously. I still haven’t seen the Couchsurfing Horror Stories Facebook page.

c.  Camping; I hate electricity.

You find yourself in one of Lisbon’s fanciest restaurants with a blank check to order whatever you’d like. What do you say to the waiter?

a.  “I’ll take the Francesinha please, with a side salad.” A reasonable order because the handful of lettuce will counteract the 3000-calorie meat bomb about to enter your stomach.

b.  “One soup of the day, please! And a cheese tosta—is the water included?”

c.  “Can I order the octopus salad sans octopus?” You don’t really eat seafood, since commercial fisheries are known to devastate marine ecosystems.

The next stop on your itinerary is Belém, which you didn’t realize is actually a good five miles away from the center of Lisbon. How do you get there?

a.  The bus seems reasonable; one-way is only €1.45, and it puts you pretty close to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.

b.  You “accidentally” run through the ticket validation while it’s still on the person in front of you. “Oh, geez, sorry,” you say as you bump into him, ‘flustered’. “Guess I’ll have to double-pay next time,” you shrug.

c.  Bike. What better way to feel the sun’s rays enriching your being with Vitamin D than to pedal along the waterfront esplanade?

You’ve got to choose a souvenir to bring home for your mother! What do you choose?

a.  You find a good deal on some local pottery—she’ll think of your trip every time she drinks her morning coffee.

b.  You take a photo of a €1 postcard at an roadside gift shop, then redraw it in your sketchbook, adding a heartfelt note telling her how much you love her.

c.  Souvenirs are immaterial. You’ll recount stories around the hearth, imparting a piece of your experience onto her being.

Oh no! You wore those comfy pants with the zipper-less pockets and, in the bustle of the Lisbon metro, someone’s stolen your passport (which you foolishly kept in your pocket). Your flight is tomorrow morning—who do you contact?

a.  The GNR, the national police. They (and their fabulous green berets) instill confidence that you will (maybe) get your passport back (like a 9% chance, but still).

b.  You pull the stop lever on the train and take matters into your own hands—no one’s leaving this vehicle until you and your passport are reunited. There’s fogo in your eyes.

c.  Thankfully, there’s a tarot expert across the street from your hostel. He draws you a card reading “Master of the Hats,” which turns out to be utterly unhelpful in finding your passport, but the human-to-human connection ends up being more than worth the trouble.

If you answered mostly:

a: You are Pingo Doce! You are the largest grocery chain in Portugal. With average prices and an unextraordinary—but quality—selection of products, you are level-headed and reasonable. You just need a can of beans, some rice, and maybe an apple; nothing fancy, just the day’s necessities and maybe a few weekly discounts.

b: Hey there, Lidl! You were originally a German chain, but now you’re popular around Europe because of your exceedingly low prices. You’re no-frills, and you like brutal honesty and value resourcefulness.

c: Oh hi, Celeiro! You are the Whole Foods of Portugal, but like, way smaller. You wriggle into nooks and crannies across the street from your big boy grocery store friends like Pingo and Lidl, but you refuse to be silenced. You have all of Mother Gaia on your side! Standing for all that it is just, holy, and gluten-free, you offer an extensive selection of supplements, fitness products, and dairy-free yogurts.

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Joseph Winters

Joseph immersed himself in the culture of Northern Italy, a major departure from his small town Washington State roots. Clad in thrift store shorts, a pair of sneakers, and a T-shirt from the clearance section at REI, Joseph mispronounced his way through Versace, Gucci, and Gianfranco Lotti stores. “Dolce and Bananas?” he sputtered in Milan. “Giorgio Armonkey?” he stammered in Florence. By the time he got to Venice, he decided to get onto a gondola and keep his mouth shut about fashion. Interestingly, though, he had no problem saying “gelato,” “gnocchi,” or “biscotti” when placing his order in an Italian “ristorante.” Apart from his linguistic misadventures, Joseph toiled through the extensive Let’s Go “requirements” like seeing Michelangelo’s David or da Vinci’s The Last Supper, making it through the month mostly in one piece, despite only managing to memorize 114 of the 650 kinds of pasta he encountered.