Second Week of a New Life
Week 2 in Lisbon
This second week in Lisbon I am getting into more of a routine. I am spending more time working and less trying to find necessities of daily life. The pull to explore my new city is still strong, so I head out everyday for long walks. I take my laptop and find new cafes to work in as I pop from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Things I’ve learned about my new city…
The city provides me with a complimentary daily workout.
Even if I just go to work from the cafe up the street, I must head directly up a hill. Lisbon is the city of no one knows how many hills. Well actually, they say it is the city of seven hills but that must be seven hills per neighborhood. When people ask, I’ve explained my life here as “up the hill, down the hill”.
The hills don’t intimidate me anymore. Armed with my comfy shoes, I just tackle them, some having 60+ steps. I get better at them every day.
The locals are among the friendliest you’ll meet.
With the exception of bodega guy (I’ll break him down yet..), this city has some of the friendliest locals. The pub where I like to watch football matches gets very busy on game days. As people queue up outside, they let me slip in, telling me if anyone asks, I am one of them.
Another favorite is a little cafe near the pub. I stopped in for a pre-game latte one day and Rodrigo, the new owner, gave me a tour of the place. One of my usual routes around the city is a set of stairs (of course) that ends right at his cafe. When he sees me walking down, he leans out the window to chat or comes out to greet me. He is so excited about all of his plans for the cafe that you cannot help but root for him.
Of course, there is Antonio. Antonio runs what I call the “bodega pub” as it is nothing fancy. Although I have not asked, I imagine he lives in the back room and turned this room into the pub. Some nights I stop in for a small beer and end up watching movies with him. He teaches me some new Portuguese phrases and helps me practice saying them correctly. No matter what time of day, locals pop in to have a chat with him as they pass. He is truly a neighborhood gem.
The pastries are everywhere…and they are divine. And there is gelato!
Everyone you look, there is a “pasteleria” serving all kinds of delicious pastries. There are also many gelaterias, and quite a few are run by Italians. I’ve become quite fond of a couple of little pastries at one of my cafes and also the gelato at Nannarella, run by Romans.
At first, I indulged in pastries and gelato when the mood struck me, telling myself I had to get to know all about my new home. Now, I’m giving myself a weekly maximum. While the hills you must climb daily work off a certain amount, there has to be a limit!
My apartment was the absolute best choice I could have made for myself.
My little apartment is perfect for me! I came over with two suitcases, wanting to have just what I needed to get myself settled this first year. I chose my small, well-designed studio from among the videos my real estate agent sent. The apartment fits everything I have with some free space to add more clothes or some of my beloved books.
I love working at the table in the windows and listening to the neighbors when they meet on the little square below. I enjoy cooking simple meals as I learn to find the things I need to make more of my favorite dishes. Having hot showers using my good water pressure and going to sleep in my comfy bed is the perfect end to my day.
Being located in the Alfama, allows me to experience the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon in a way most tourists don’t. I love getting to know the locals and hearing Portuguese spoken most often. In the center you hear a lot of English. Now as I walk through the neighborhood, some of the locals I’ve gotten to know speak to me as we pass. I am slowly beginning to feel like I belong here.
It’s simply wonderful.