I moved into my sublet on July 1st, signifying the start of my summer and new life in Lisbon. It’s hard to wrap my mind around that only being 4 weeks ago because so much has happened this month.
I’ve settled nicely into my life in Portugal, although I would by lying if I didn’t say that there are quite a few things that have surprised me about this country – both good and bad.
I knew within about 2 weeks of living here that it’s not a place that I’d want to live longterm, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here as a temporary expat.
I’m glad that it ended up being such an easy decision, because that was one of the main reasons I came here in the first place – to see if I could set down roots and live here for a longer period of time.
As much as I love Europe, I realize that it’s not the place that feels like home, at least at this point in my life. California is. The truth is I miss the life I had started to create for myself back in San Francisco before I left.
I miss my friends, my family, the laidback and outdoorsy nature of my home state. I love that hardly anyone smokes cigarettes, and definitely not in bars or clubs, like they do in Portugal.
I love that I can communicate easily without having to think of the words in a different language all the time. I love that people know the art of good filtered coffee, not just espresso. I miss the quality festivals and sheer volume of concerts and musical acts that come through California. I miss the Mexican food, and I love the fact that I have the beach, mountains, and redwoods all within an hour or two drive.
These may seem like insignificant things, but they add up after awhile.
As many problems as there are in the US right now, it’s home. And I haven’t felt more sure of that in a very long time.
There’s a reason why I put off my departure date to Europe longer than intended this year, maybe I didn’t want to admit it back in May when I left, but deep down I knew that I had already found where I wanted home to be right now.
That’s not to say that I haven’t had some wonderful times in Portugal as well, especially now that I can simply enjoy it as a tourist and not someone who’s planning to move here.
My housemates and I clicked within the first week of living together, and we’ve become pretty inseparable since that first bottle of wine and cheese board at our favorite foodie spot in Lisbon – By the Wine.
We’ve gone on day trips (Peniche), weekend trips (Porto), and have made a regular habit of Thursday night dinners at a different foodie spot around Lisbon each week. I couldn’t have asked for a better living situation for the summer.
I’ve also made a little headway with my Portuguese lessons. I’m finally starting to wrap my head around the language and pronunciation a bit more – although I still have a long way to go. Portuguese is not an easy language.
Taking Portuguese lessons has actually inspired me to get back into Spanish. I took 3 years of Spanish classes in high school, and even grew up with some bilingual classes in elementary school, and then completely lost it once I left for college.
I want to work on becoming fluent once I’m back in California, especially since I’ll probably be doing more travels around Central and South America now that I’ll be living on that side of the world.
This month, as predicted, I stuck around Portugal and enjoyed getting to know the Portuguese culture better. I still have so much to see around Lisbon, because I’ve been bogged down with a lot of work this month, but I have managed to take a few trips outside of the city to Costa da Capirica, Peniche, and Porto.
This was a summary of my July!
PLACES & MEMORIES
Lisbon | I stayed around Lisbon most weeks in July, mostly only traveling on the weekends to other places just outside Lisbon, such as the popular local’s beach, Costa da Capirica.
I’ve been taking Portuguese Classes from Lusa Language School, and it has been wonderful to be back in school and learning something new. Truth be told, I actually really love learning and being in a classroom so I feel like I’m in my element again.
I’ve also been trying to find the best cafes around the city to work in. So far, Copenhagen Coffee Lab in Alframa and Tease in Principe Real take the cake for good WiFi, friendly staff, and quality work spaces. Also, Flora & Fauna is probably my favorite cafe in the city, although for brunch not for work. It’s Instagram dreamy.
I’ve actually hardly done any sightseeing in Lisbon, because I’ve been working so much and taking Portuguese classes in my spare time.
However, I have explored quite a few restaurants with my housemates, including By the Wine, Damas, and Lagar do Cais. I also visited the Lisbon Story Centre museum a couple of weeks ago to learn more about the history of the city and how it was built (pretty much the only touristy thing I’ve done here so far).
I plan to do more sightseeing in the coming weeks because I only have a few more weeks before I head to Morocco and then California!
Peniche | One of our housemate trips in July was to Peniche, a small beach city about an hour and a half by bus outside of Lisbon.
We decided to go mainly because it was the only place that wasn’t raining that weekend (ha!), but we were pleasantly surprised by what we found.
We spent a short time in the main downtown area, and then did a coastal headland walk to the Cabo Carvoeiro lighthouse the rest of the day, ending with a delicious seafood meal at PROFRESCO before hopping on the bus back to Lisbon.
Porto | This past weekend, my housemates and I went up to Porto for a couple of nights. It was interesting to see it again after visiting other parts of Portugal, and getting to know Lisbon better.
Porto was the first city I explored in Portugal, and it felt like a happy reunion to be back with the beautiful tiled city by the river. As much as I like Lisbon, there’s something romantic about Porto and its welcoming nature.
We went out a lot while we were there because we had heard such good things about the nightlife in Porto. Luckily, we were staying just around the corner from the main bar area so we were able to walk home within two minutes whenever we got tired and wanted to call it a night.
What I loved about the Porto nightlife was how friendly people were. Groups would just approach us and strike up a conversation in the middle of the street, or bar, and it was super easy to meet people. In Lisbon, people aren’t quite as open when you go out at night. You mostly stick with the group you go out with.
I was also able to play tour guide for my two housemates and show them my favorite spots around the city from my last visit in June, since neither one of them had been before.
Staying mostly in one spot does wonders for allowing me to enjoy other aspects in my life besides travel, and that includes my love of reading!
In July, I managed to get through three books – On Writing by Stephen King, How to Be Parisian by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
On Writing was an interesting nonfiction book by Stephen King. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of horror (his usual writing style), so the only book I’ve read of his is The Shining, but I had heard about this book and how it’s a must read for any writer.
And the fact is, Stephen King is a talented storyteller and writer, even if I don’t particularly like his genre.
On Writing was part autobiography, part writing tips, and part inspirational life wisdom. It felt a bit jumbled at times in switching between these three because he wrote the book over a long period of time, but overall I enjoyed it. There were a few key takeaways in terms of his writing advice that I especially took to heart.
Maybe it wasn’t a good move to read How to Be Parisian right after reading such a well written book by Stephen King, because it was pretty terrible in terms of writing and subject matter.
It’s meant to be a satire about French women and how ridiculous but lovable Parisian culture can be (written by Parisian women). Even with that in mind, I felt myself bored anytime I tried to read it because of the poor writing and lack of ingenuity when talking about French cliches (i.e. all of them were so overdone).
I generally like books about Paris and Francophone culture, but yeah, this one was painful to get through.
Luckily, my last book of the month was much better. I had actually already seen the movie based off Perks of Being a Wallflower, and had read passages of this book in the past, so it was more just me wanting to read the whole story front to back.
And I still loved every piece of it.
Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my favorite movies, and there’s still a lot in this story that resonates with me.
In fact, the next tattoo I plan to get is based off a line in the movie/book. Reading the book also made me realize how well done the movie is, because there wasn’t much subtext they missed in the film when telling the story.
I’ve still been obsessed with Suits this month. I’m actually almost completely caught up to the last season now (I have a life, I promise).
And I found out that my housemate Gabi is just as into the show as I am, so I have someone to talk about all the drama with now. It’s great.
I only have a few more weeks in Portugal and I plan to live it up to the fullest, exploring more of the city, trying more foodie spots, and spending time with the friends I’ve made here so far.
I originally thought I might head to Spain for a weekend in August, but I’m thinking I might just stay in Portugal now and save Spain for another trip in the future.
There’s so much to see in Portugal, and I want to soak up as much of this country as I can right now because I’m not sure when I’ll be back – it’s not exactly a cheap place to fly to from California.
I’m also planning my trip to Morocco for the end of August/start of September with my Australian friend Chenee, whom I met in Greece last summer. We’ll be going to a few spots in Morocco over two weeks, and I can’t wait to get to my 5th continent and explore the many medinas with her!
Until next month! x
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