Tenth Week of a New Life
A Journey Across the River
Ahhh, Almada. I had read about a magical area just across the river from Lisbon where the rents are low, the shops and restaurants are plentiful, and the many sports bars all show Premier League games. In short, Almada sounded like my Nirvana. Now that I am no longer tied to one place by my mortgage, I am free to move around a bit, exploring life in different places. I decided to explore Almada and consider it as a place to live next.
Crossing the River
On Saturday morning, I hopped on a ferry and made my way across the River Tejo toward Almada. The sun was shining on what could only be described as a glorious day. This was the perfect weather to wander around, check out the shops and have lunch outdoors at one of the many restaurants. After lunch there would be time to check out the pubs and watch some Premier League football games.
The ferry arrived in the town of Calcihas, which offers many restaurants with outdoor seating. I resisted the urge to wander here and maybe have a bite, instead jumping on the tram and taking it a few stops to the heart of Almada. I wanted to leave plenty of time to give this wonderful place that could be my future home the attention it deserves.
Searching for the Center
One of my priorities is being able to watch football matches with my neighbors in the local pubs. On the ferry ride over, I had done a quick google search to determine where the pubs are located as they are usually in the middle of the action. Surely there would be restaurants for lunch nearby and then I could watch my games.
First up was Buddy’s Pub which was on what seemed to be the main street. From what I’d learned of Buddy’s, I imagined old men drinking Super Bocks, the local beer, while complaining about the play of their favorite teams. As I turned the corner and saw Buddy’s, I stopped in my tracks. Buddy’s was in fact, a locals spot, but it was closed.
It was 12:30pm on a Saturday and there was no one but me on the street. It was eerily quiet. I began to wonder if a nuclear attack had taken everyone out and I should run toward the water and jump in the River Tejo to save myself. While I appreciate a good siesta hour, this is Saturday.
I Reach the “Center”
Eventually I came to Praça da República. Usually, when you read a name like that you have reached the center of town. The square was a bit elevated so I walked around the corner and up a tiny hill. I saw the entrance to a public toilet, very common on city squares, only this one was locked. I headed toward a bench to rest while I had a look around.
Unfortunately, the bench was rotting and had lost a plank or two. With my large rear, I was not in danger of falling through the cracks, however I was afraid the rest of the planks were rotted through. I opted to take my chances on another bench which looked worse for the wear but had all its boards in place.
As I sat, I noticed there were three buildings on this little square. One was almost completely dilapidated, the other was a restaurant that was open, and the final one appeared to be a recent renovation. I guess one of each is a good mix.
Gathering Local Intelligence
As I sat there, I overheard an English-speaking guy on the street below talking to a couple. I decided to gather some local intelligence and headed toward them. The couple were walking off after saying their goodbyes. I asked the guy if he lived there and if so, if he would chat with me about the area. He happily agreed and said he lives in Tenerife, a short ferry ride away. He was in Almada taking his daughters to a dance lesson.
He said he prefers this side of the river over Lisbon which is much too busy for him. The pace of life is just better in this area. I resisted the urge to point out I was struggling to find any pace of life on this side of the river. He continued, confirming that he enjoys the calmer life here on the “better” side of the river. I told him too much calm makes me jittery. I thanked him for his time and headed on down the street in my continued search for signs of life.
After wandering down a few more streets and only finding one restaurant that was actually busy, I gave up the search for anything that might make me move here. I rounded out my time in Almada by having a coffee at a rare cafe with outdoor tables. As I sipped my latte, a fearless pigeon attacked my feet and a three-legged dog hobbled around my table searching for scraps.
As I rode the ferry back to Lisbon, I made sure to grab a seat with my back to Almada.