Yesterday, Allison and I arrived in Portugal.
Our dream was to move here for a year. Allison got us all the way to the to the top of the mountain of paperwork to make that happen only to be foiled at the final step.
So on to Plan B where we start in Portugal with a 3-month travel visa and then country-hop anywhere we can. Except we can’t bear to give up our NYC apartment and we can’t afford to both keep it and travel for very long.
So on to Plan C where we found someone to lease our apartment furnished as-is for a year while we travel. Except they changed their mind shortly before we were to leave.
So on to Plan D where we keep our apartment and pay double rent while we travel with a 3-month travel visa. Except we find it’s impossible to take Leia with us. Allison got Leia the dog during the pandemic and she’s part of our family now. Well, truth be told she’s the boss. It’s been so rewarding to see her confidence grow from the traumatized baby momma we met at the Subaru dealership to bounding and prancing about the city insisting we get her a bagel at Orwashers. She’s so weird in every way, and we love it.
So on to Plan E where we get someone to stay in the apartment with Leia while we travel. This is the best plan we can come up with for Leia since she can sleep on her same bed and take her same walks around the Upper West Side and Central Park and she loves Anna the sitter who loves her back.
So Plan E it is! We can’t practically afford to pay for the apartment, a sitter, and travel accommodations for too long, so we’re only going for 2 months instead of a year, but hey, here we are on a Dreamliner heading to the other side of the Atlantic!
I remember looking up to see the very first Dreamliner flight over Seattle, complete with a chase plane. It was a big deal for Boeing at the time. I can’t believe how long it’s been and that this is my first flight on one. Allison got us access to the airport lounge and upgraded seats with a row to ourselves, so the flight is really nice.
I got us eSims in advance so we had a data plan for our phones on arrival and could get an Uber driver to seek out our AirBnb somewhere in the twisty streets of Lisbon. “Don’t take a taxi”, Allison read online. “Taxis are operated by angry old Portuguese-speaking men who try to rip you off and Ubers are operated by younger English-speaking drivers who are a pleasure.”
Except my Uber payment refused to go through no matter how many different ways I tried to make it work.
While I was standing there for ages trying to get Uber to work, Allison managed to get the Bolt app installed, hailed a ride with that, and we were off!
I missed the first 15 minutes of the ride still struggling (and failing) to get the Uber app to work instead of looking out the window, but Allison tells me I didn’t miss anything. She said it looked like a Soviet-era dystopian society with brutalist buildings covered in graffiti.
Scary. Did we just make a huge mistake?
Maybe it was good we didn’t commit for a year!
Fortunately, things got less bleak as we drove on and by the time we arrived at our Lisbon apartment things were lookup up. Although I have to say there was still a lot of graffiti and so much construction underway. We were hoping to leave the constant jackhammering in NYC behind, but that’s not going to happen here.
I felt like Indiana Jones on a quest as we dug the apartment key out from behind a drainpipe around the corner. I have never seen such a gigantic skeleton key in real life.
We managed to squeeze into the building through a very tiny door and wound our way up a very narrow spiral staircase where I struggled with the giant key for quite some time before I figured out I had to turn it 3 full rotations and then do a special twist-and-shove gesture to enter. Puzzle solved!
The apartment is small but lovely. It’s surprisingly cold, so I make my way around the rooms plugging in all the space heaters to take the edge off.
It’s the middle of the afternoon here, but we’re exhausted and crash immediately. Not even the loud squeaking of the neighbor’s laundry line outside the window can keep us awake. I’m out like a light for hours until Allison startles me awake with the massive creaking of the bedroom door.
It’s evening now and we don’t have much light left but we decide to explore. It’s surprisingly warm outside, much warmer than inside. Nice!
It’s very windy and clearly a storm is moving in, but we head out anyway and the feeling we had made a huge mistake disappears almost immediately.
We see plenty of great places for coffee and food and the colorful tiles on the buildings are just beautiful. As we start to lose daylight we settle on a place for dinner that’s clearly a local chain but seems like a good starting point to figure out how we’re going to order something in Portuguese.
Allison has been practicing with DuoLingo, but that’s Brazilian Portuguese and apparently quite different. She’s game to take the lead anyway, so I tell her what I want from the menu and she heads up to the counter.
Where someone in line before us is ordering in English! Yay!
That makes ordering easy and the food is so delicious and healthy. If this place opened for business in NYC they’d put our salad chains to shame. I could eat here every day and be happy. Of course we won’t, but just saying. Great start!
The rain really starts coming down as we head back to the apartment in the dark and I’m very happy for the new raincoat Allison made me get before we left. She’s such a great planner!
We grab a few essentials at the pharmacy on the way and I hear the first bit of Portuguese I actually understand. “Obrigado.” Thank you. Allison told me about that one. Except it sounded like ‘bragado. Or maybe I just missed the first part? I’m going to get this yet.
Time to retire now. We have to be conservative with the electricity, so I’m only using the space heaters in each room we’re actively using. It’s humid and everything is just a little damp, but not too bad. I think we’ll acclimate quickly.
It feels really good to be on a new adventure after so long in NYC. NYC has been fantastic, but I’ve been there so long now it’s just normal. A great normal, to be sure, but no longer an adventure in my book. It’s home.
So I’m really excited to explore Lisbon tomorrow!
Wait. What’s this on the weather app? “Severe coastal event tomorrow” Are we on the coast?