After living in Asia for a substantial period of time, I was craving a dose of my Iberian roots. To my pleasant surprise, I decided to visit Macau when I was touring Hong Kong and was truly amazed at how the former Portuguese colonial destination still possesses a great deal of its cultural roots. In fact, the second I arrived to Macau, I felt similar energy to being on the waterfront in Lisbon.
One of the aspects of Macau that I thought was just sensational was the mix between the Chinese and Portuguese culture. For example, most of the street signs in Macau still are tiled as they are in Portugal with the street names; however, what makes them truly unique is the fact that they have Cantonese and Portuguese on the signs, which I was elated to see after a year of only being exposed to Asian languages!
As you saunter down the cobblestone streets in the historic heart of Macau, you will run into several old world Iberian Portuguese restaurants that feel just as if you are on the mainland. In fact, the first thing that I did when sitting down was to take a look at their impressive Portuguese wine list, which was virtually identical to some of my favorites that I ordered in Porto, Portugal. The wine aside, these restaurants had the traditional Portuguese seafood and even had waiters from Macau who still spoke in Portuguese.
After lunch, it is best to visit the famous wall that is still standing from the colonial era. The wall is the side of an old Iberian Church that is still standing. It even has one of those iron bells that I love from Iberian architecture. What particularly amused me about this was that there was a Buddhist temple in close proximity to this Iberian treasure where you could pray to Buddha if you so desired. What made Macau so fascinating was the mixture of cultures. I found myself in a place that was preserved in colonial time to explore while I was miles away from its homeland. This trip ignited a travel hobby of mine of looking for former colonial territories and trying to spot the influence of their roots in each place. Macau on this front surely did not disappoint.
After enjoying a taste of Iberia for the day, it is worth it to investigate the casinos that Macau is known for. Macau has every luxury available to those who are seeking world class hotels and performances. In fact, the casinos truly do live up to their James Bond reputation and it is absolutely worth visiting for a little bit of gambling to see how the Asian elite play poker. That being said, it is important to remember that Macau is surely more than just a city of gambling. Macau has a precious resemblance to Iberian culture to offer to her visitors, which can be greatly appreciated to an Iberian far away from home or the world traveler who adores seeing the unique combination of cultures.