The Portuguese are now spread all over the globe, but there is a day that reunites them all. The 10th of June is officially known as the ‘Portugal Day,’ and it commemorates the death of national literary icon Luís de Camões. His namesake Luís Gomes is one of the many joining the celebration. The 45-year-old was born in Porto, Portugal, but he is now a trolleybus driver in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. “Portugal Day is a massive celebration back home; all Portuguese have a day off, but I won’t ask for it here. Everyone is working in Lithuania,” Mr. Gomes said after Skycop asked him about national traditions.
The National Day is a recollection of the childhood
Mr. Gomes’ day usually begins at 4 a.m. Even in the summer, it’s not that hot this early in the morning, as the temperature only goes tropical at noon. Mr. Gomes starts the engine of his trolleybus – a kind of electric bus typical in this part of Europe – and instantly becomes an outstanding member of the public transport community. He is the only driver who came from a place that far away to ride the streets of Vilnius.
Mr. Gomes met his wife from Lithuania in his hometown and came to Vilnius 8 years ago. He has been a trolleybus driver for 2 years now and calls himself ‘part-Lithuanian.’ The Portuguese speak Lithuanian and the 10th of June now is nothing but a bright memory from his childhood.
“As a child, I attended gymnastics. So there used to be competitions which I took part in on the Luís de Camões Day. The impressive military parade in Porto also comes to my mind. But the main celebration was always being held in Lisbon. Portugal’s capital has always been the hot spot of the National Day,” Mr. Gomes remembers.
Portugal Day, Lithuania’s traditions
“The Ocean,” Mr. Gomes quickly answers when asked what he missed the most in Lithuania. Porto is on the shore of the Atlantic, so the trolley driver goes to the Baltic coast to get help with homesickness. “But the climate (except for the snow) and people are similar here, I don’t feel much of the difference,” Mr. Gomes says.
According to him, there’s no reason to feel alone as a foreigner in Vilnius. Mr. Gomes finished his bachelor and master’s degree in architecture here speaks 5 languages. “Other trolleybus drivers try to teach me Russian, but I’m not fond of that,” he smiles.
The main reason why he is working as a trolleybus driver is that finding a job as an architect is not so easy. And, of course, Mr. Gomes loves to drive.
“I love Lithuania too. I feel at home here. Sure, as time passes, national traditions like celebrating Day of Portugal fade, if only because I don’t get in touch with the Portuguese community here much. But my son knows what kind of day it is, what it means. For me, it‘s like a reminder of who I really am. It would be a bit rude to ask a day off on the 10th of June, as my other colleagues have to work. But I’m gonna drive my trolley in a more joyous mood than usual,” Mr. Gomes winks.
Riding a trolleybus is a unique experience, but if you decide to celebrate the Luís de Camões Day in Portugal, you will probably travel by air. A delayed, cancelled or overbooked flight can ruin any event – but Skycop will fight for your right to get compensation. Just fill the claim and get up to €600. Vamos comemorar!
Photo: One of the things that Mr. Gomes is excited about in Lithuania is rare and retro trolleys, which are not in use now.