Portugal's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean influences many aspects of its culture, like grilled sardines. Portugal projects pride in its historic past, while embracing a colorful spirit today.  The contrast between the important capital Lisbon and the relaxed villages is a delight to discover.  Much of the nation's architecture is hundreds of years old, when Portugal had a global maritime empire.  Lisbon is vibrant, while many small villages continue to lead a simple life.