Portugal is the ideal location for new players. It is located on the Iberian Peninsula and provides easy access to Northern Europe, the Meditaranean and Africa. Another big advantage is that Portugal have numerous allied ports in the trading paradise of India.
For new players from Portugal, there are two recommended paths to begin their life as a prospective young sailor.
For those who prefer the discovering of new lands and new artifacts, this parth is for you. It is also the least gold-consuming career path in game.
In early game it is recommended either to opt for a Archeologist or a Botanist beginning.
Archeology will provide skill preference in Search, which is the lifeblood of an explorer as well as access to Lockpicking, which would otherwise be only accessible much later in game. Archeology also provides most discoveries in early game, therefore earns you fast exp. The downside is that you have to travel quite extensively, often going far into the Meditarrean to dig up artifacts belonging to the Roman Empire.
However, once you have opened up the map to Eastern Europe, with access to the explorer's-heaven city of Athens, all your hardwork would be well worth it. Here you will find many high end quests which will land you a lot of exp and gold.
The second option is to begin life as a Botanist. The upside of that is that there are numerous Biological quests located close to the starting Port of Lisbon. And if you group with players, your exp would grow very fast, provided you run quests together. Another advantage is that later on in the game when you pay a vist to India, you will find many of the most rewarding quests require Biology related skills.
The downside is that if you do continue with the Botanist path, you probably would miss out on the quests in Athens.
This is my kind of career, a ruthless merchant who prides himself on capturing Ports for the Empire of Portugal. In this game, nationality plays a very big role. When a port is captured, all Portugese players would benefit, and therefore all Portugese merchants should work together and not against each other.
During the Age of Sail, Portugal gave the world some of the its finest cuisines, salt-cured fish, Portugese Chicken and Portugese sausage. Its no suprise that Lisbon and its neighbouring territories hold vast number of food items. A chef will provide skill preferences in both Cooking and Food Trades. There is an old saying on the Chinese UWO server - many of the world's greatest merchants began life as a humble Portugese butcher.
Exploiting both the trade routes between Lisbon and its neighbouring ports butchering pigs to make sausages will make you very wealthy very quick.