I am so blessed! Many nights I lay awake and count my blessings. Sometimes I am giddy with unbelievable joy at what we are doing. It is out of the ordinary, yes, but I think it is so awesome that I am living this dream. My husband and I quit our jobs, sold our stuff, and are traveling. We have been on the road since February 2, 2015 – to Ecuador and Colombia, South America; Vancouver and Victoria, Canada; on an Alaskan cruise; are now in Portugal and headed soon for the UK.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to travel slowly. While we had jobs we would take a 3-week vacation where the itineraries were so tightly packed we had to spend nearly every waking moment running around to see everything! We’ve slowed down. We aren’t rushed each morning and scheduling wake-up calls, instead of speed walking with arms pumping and tongues hanging out we slowly stroll and take breaks sitting at cafes to savor another espresso. Just tonight we found a park bench and sat sunning ourselves waiting for sunset (just killing time) until a cloud passed over making it too cool so we moved on.
I’m thankful for my husband of 35 years who is traveling alongside me and for friends and family who are supportive and encouraging. This lifestyle may not be sustainable for long and we may have to find work, but in the meantime I’m loving it.
We are always comparing each place to where we’ve been. Here are a few of the differences we’ve noted between South America and Portugal.
Europe is known to have many more cigarette smokers. I don’t know whether they were too poor or just smarter, but the smokers we encountered in South America were usually foreigners. Thankfully, smoking isn’t allowed indoors and yet the smokers stand in doorways and the smoke blows in. Another peeve of mine is that smokers utilize the patios at the hostels and the outdoor tables at cafes where one can’t get away from the smell or the smoke. Something I’m seeing which I haven’t seen in years are cigarette vending machines!
One great discovery in Lisbon: step off the curb and drivers stop for you! Pedestrians are protected in crosswalks. Driving is calmer and there isn’t all the honking either.
We have found that a lot more people speak and understand English in Lisbon than in Ecuador. Portuguese is so different than Spanish. I find I comprehend the printed word more easily than their speaking!
The bread is better in Europe. Salads are more readily available. Every hole in the wall establishment has a huge fancy stainless-steel espresso machine. At least, here coffee is espresso. Coffee In South America could mean many different things: instant, perked, or tinto – strong drip-brewed, reheated and added to milk or water – you never knew what you were getting.
In the bathrooms we find hot water at the sink, and bath mats, hand towels and bedside lamps. I think flushing the tp is a big plus!
Every restaurant here as well as in Ecuador and Colombia have TVs. The Incredibles was on the other night – in Portuguese. But, very few places have wifi, whereas every small cafe had it in South America. It’s up for debate whether this is a plus or not.
Walking still requires utmost attention as the cobblestones are slick and uneven and deep mortar joints makes it deadly to high heels. Occasionally, there are even holes, ahem, just like other places we’ve been.
Overall, I love pedestrian friendly cities. You don’t have to walk far to find a coffee, restaurant or a market! Folks pop into a cafeteria for a juice or coffee and pastry and drink it standing at the counter en route to work or anytime of day for a quick pick-me-up. At home one has to first drive out of the neighborhood to find a business zone, park, and walk past all those handicapped parking spaces into the store (perhaps walking further than one does here!)
Finally, public transportation works, although it’s more expensive here than in Ecuador. The Metro, Lisbon’s subway, accesses the airport as well as the train and bus stations, and cruise port making Lisbon an excellent choice for a gateway city. It eliminates the need for a costly taxi ride!