Week 10 whaaatt!? I’m in PORTUGALLLLLL! I am so excited and happy here, I can’t even form coherent thoughts sometimes. I skipped my way through the airport when I landed. And on a more serious note, I want to live here for longer than a month someday. It’s this crazy mix of feeling 100% at home because of the food and language and people, while also feeling like there is so much I want to see and do.
- Lisbon is unique in that it was never really destroyed by war. Minus an earthquake in 1755, the city’s buildings have not been damaged in history. Thus, the architecture and houses are old, beautiful, and also make no sense sometimes. My
roommate and I are lucky to have a historic apartment (meaning one that can’t be altered without approval from municipality for preservation purposes) so it has a lot of character. First off, 6 foot ceilings at the tallest point (I’ve hit my head on so many things and can’t reach my arms up straight). The more you look at the décor, the more you think who put this place together? We have a hodge podge of chairs and array of art pieces on one table that include: a metal rose, a busty sculpture of a lady, a vase with wheat in it, a sculpture of a monk holding baby Jesus that all sit under an Asian fishing boat painting….yup. But I LOVE our apartment. It feels like something my grandmother and her siblings would live in. And it’s in a great neighborhood, close to everything, called Sao Bento.
- Hills, hills everywhere. A lot of people compare Lisbon to San Francisco and on the subject of hills, they are the same. Getting my exercise in for sure.
- Lisbon is a very clean city. Not much to say but no trash anywhere, doesn’t feel like a lot of air pollution.
- A night out on the town is quite fun. Drinking in the streets is allowed and in neighborhoods like Barro Alto, the bars are sort of open faced, you grab a drink in one and wander around if you want. The roads are still active but it’s quite funny to watch a taxi try to push through the crowd of people owning the street. Also 10pm is dinner time (on the weekends at least) and if you get to the club before 2am, you’ll be alone.
- Drugs are decriminalized. In other words, if you get admitted to the hospital for a drug problem, you will be treated as a patient not a criminal. Soooo, you will get offered hash, marijuana, cocaine, etc. freely on the streets. Just say no, really dangerous and also probably fake.
- On weeknights, from 10pm-7am it is forbidden to make too much noise in homes, and it’s a fineable offense ranging up to 3,000 EUR depending on the group. Pro tip: if the neighbors knock on your door and ask you to be quiet, shut the heck up or they will call the police. Not speaking from experience or anything…
- Until 1974, Portugal was a dictatorship. It was in that year that they had a ‘revolution’ and changed to a democracy. I put quotes around the revolution part because it was named the Carnation Revolution, the story goes that someone walked around and put carnations in everyone’s guns. Apparently the Portuguese are not known for their uprisings.
- On a history note, Portugal has had a long string of territories around the world, including one in India that apparently they still speak Portuguese in. Anyway, from the 1970s on, they have released those territories for independence. We were told that there’s been a sort of shift in how people are taught about those lands, switching from a ‘we are heroes and conquered the world’ message to ‘we took over a lot of places where people were living and maybe did not do it in the best way’ message.
- Goes without saying that the most popular pastry is a Pastel de Nata. It’s a custardy mixture inside a filo dough cup, aka heaven, and I may have already eaten them 5 times. I’m also happy to be back in the land of Sumol and lots of arroz.
- Sidewalks? Cobblestone that can be pretty slick on the hills and are very narrow, but don’t walk on the street because those are also narrow and cars don’t slow down.
- Portugal is in the top 10 safest countries in the world. *knock on wood* It’s really refreshing to walk the streets and not get anything tossed my way except maybe an offering of weed.
- EVERYTHING IS SO BEAUTIFUL, I LOVE JUST WANDERING. I am feeling the need to take a picture of every building because they’re all so quaint and nice.
- Well night one (Saturday) I haddd to partake in a traditional Portuguese weekend, I mean it wouldn’t be right otherwise. So I guess my Sunday started midnight-4am
- After that, woke up at 11 and got breakfast with some Remotes. Took the tour of some other places and a tad bit of jealousy came in when I saw all the modern décor and normal ceilings. I’ve since been changed and adore our place.
- City exploring, stumbled upon the main square along the water, listened to a cool street band, went to a few overlooks and hung out with some awesome Remotes
- Dinner party! This is the first time that we’ve all had apartments all over, so we have to make more formal plans to get together. One place hosted a dinner party with the best risotto (honestly anything tasted good after a month of tajine).
- Gym- y’all, getting back into my fitness routine has been amazing. Plays such a role on my mental state.
- City welcome with Remote Year’s City Team. The two we are working with this month are really great. Learned all the important rules. Also, they played an April Fool’s joke on us that got people gooood. In the middle of this presentation, they put a slide detailing a new law that sets restrictions on tourists buying and drinking alcohol. They laid out the hours in which we could purchase, where and when we could consume. It was very convincing, and they let it brew for 5 minutes before returning back to that slide and telling us it was a joke. Especially after a month of no drinking in Marrakech, people were up in arms. Well done.
- Work, been diligently training my replacement at Bainco as this is my final month with them.
- Woke up at 3am to my roommate and others screaming down the street and up into the apartment. Had a little hangout sesh in the middle of the night. Welcome to Portugal.
- Wandered off on my own. Took the local bus to the Lx Factory, an old factory that now houses cool art shops and libraries. Worth a visit just for the aesthetic and the Livraria Ler Devagar.
- Walked along the river, under the bridge that looks like the Golden Gate, and soaked up the sun.
- Wound my way home, crazy how quickly I got oriented to directions. One of my favorite mornings of the trip. As much as I love being with people, I am able to take things in so much better on my own.
- Work- the workspace this month is beautiful. Has a great rooftop and three floors. Bad thing is that it’s so nice, everyone goes and then it’s crowded and loud, sometimes hard to take calls.
- Host a group of people at our apartment for some drinks, then hit the bars all night, sorry Mom and Dad. When in Lisbon…
- …slow morning. Normal day, but even normal days are just better here.
- Went out to watch a soccer game. Benefica and Sporting, two Lisbon football clubs, were facing off in the second leg of the semi-final for the Portuguese cup. So much fun to see everyone out in the restaurants, cafes, etc. watching the game. Benefica, to much surprise, lost 1-0. Heart happy though.
- Remote Year meetings: Positive Impact and Language/History.
- Lunch with a lovely remote at Ze Da Mouraria, a very traditional Portuguese restaurant. Of course only meat and fish, but I was so excited for just a huge plate of rice.
- Side note: I’m feeling very proud that people just start talking Portuguese to me. Guess I really do look like one.
- Long walk and exploration through the neighborhood of Alfama with Simone. Lots of cool overlooks and street art.
- Got some sangria and a pastel de nata on the walk back, I’d say it was a successful morning
- Early morning train to Porto (about 3 hours and hey, I got a discount for being under 25!) with another remote, Lindsay.
- Cousin Duarte picked us up from Porto Campanha, brought us to his apartment to drop our stuff then set out on a day in the city
- Started with the staple food, invented in Porto: a francesinha at Fado B. This is a ham sandwich, covered in cheese, topped with a fried egg and smothered in a sauce that we learned had port wine in it, all with a side of French fries for dipping. The most junky food I will eat because it’s sooo delicious.
- Wandered to the Clerigos Tower/Church where we got to climb to the top for a view of the city. The whole day threatened rain but we really only got a small bit of it and then it cleared. Very lucky!
- Walked around the streets near the water that Duarte explained was the former going out district. Older and a slightly different vibe than Lisbon, still beautiful
- Walked across the Dom Luis bridge to the city of Gaia for a view of Porto from the other side. Definitely worth it!
- Took the teleferico to the top of the hill for a view from above then climbed back down to the Calem wine cellar
- Tour of the wine cellar with a tasting of three wines after. Porto is known for it’s ‘port’ wine that is technically grown in the Douro valley in the center of Portugal then produced across the river in Gaia. Learned all about ruby, tawny, rose, and white wines and saw gigantic wine vats. Not my favorite types of wine honestly, more desserty but I didn’t mind the tawny variety.
- Driving tour with Duarte to see the stunning coast (unfortunately it was raining at this point so not good pics womp womp). Would want to go to the ocean again next time in Porto.
- Home-cooked meal with Duarte, his partner, and their dog. They were the most gracious hosts and taught us so much! I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Duarte, specifically, was a really special weekend. Was also amazing to spend time with Lindsay, she’s a joy and I look up to her a lot.
- Rainy, rainy day
- Drive to Guimaraes- the medieval town known as the birthplace of the nation. Supposedly the original king was baptized there. About 40 minutes from Porto.
- Visit the castle, walk the old streets (even older than Porto and Lisbon), see the church with its gardens in front. Seriously this town was straight from a movie. Glad we made the stop.
- Lunch in the city of Braga. A growing city due to the university there and another beautiful one. I liked it because there was a large pedestrian only zone. And I got a huge plate of rice for lunch which is all I’ve wanted for 3 months.
- Drive back to Porto and relax at the Casa de Musica until train home
- Exhausting but beautiful weekend.
Excited to see what the rest of the month has in store!