I first encountered Portuguese while working in a hotel on Jersey in the
Channel Islands where most of my colleagues were from Portugal.
Working in the hotel bar I picked up some useful drink-related vocabulary
and also learnt words for fruit, numbers and a few other phrases. Unfortunately
I didn't make an effort to learn any more than that, something I regret now.
In 2002, in preparation for holidays in Portugal, I started
learning Portuguese using the book Colloquial Portuguese, which
I highly recommend. As the title suggests this book teaches you the language
which people actually speak. On the holidays my knowledge of Portuguese came
in very handy, especially when deciphering menus.
I now know enough of the language to be able to read it quite well and
to speak and understand it to some extent. Though I learnt the Portuguese
of Portugual, I find Brazilian Portuguese easier to understand.