Sienna and I arrived in Lisbon a week ago with plans to settle here: a charming, warm (a big YES, YES!) and inexpensive base for our travels further afield. Will we stay here and make a life for ourselves as planned? I'm not quite sure yet... I hate to say it and I don't know what our plan C let alone B is. I am certain, though, that my uncertainty is due to a mild case of Moving Abroad Blues (anyone who has ever moved to a foreign country will know what I am talking about). For those of you who never have, it's a bit like your inner voice saying "Omg, what have I done? WHAT HAVE I DONE?!" 80% of the time!
But anyway, I know that I am really lucky and have already learnt a lot in just under a week of slow travel in Lisbon.
I have used airbnb.com only a handful of times but one feature I discovered whilst preparing our relocation to Lisbon is the longer-than-usual short term lets. If you visit www.airbnb.com/sublets you can search for month-long or longer property rentals. The rates are usually lower than weekend or week-long stays and if you contact a property owner about your dates, they will often come back to you with a "Special Offer" - something I didn't even know there was on Airbnb. Make your request, be patient, and great rates will come your way!
We are sharing an apartment for a month with an old lady and her cat, which has been a great option for us so far. It gives me the time to find a long-term rental, we are learning about local life and have been thrown into the deep-end of a Portuguese-speaking household! Sienna is already saying "Até logo" (see you later) and is using her Spanish to make herself understood. 😍
The great thing about slow travel is that you start settling in straight away. It isn't all about rushing around, cramming in all of the tourist attractions as fast as you can. We have now sussed out the best nearby parks and plazas - a GREAT place to pick up the language! Thanks to hearing other parents talking to their children, I am getting the hang of the basics (well okay, baby talk).
Life is Sweet
Portuguese people are really friendly. They even stop for pedestrians at every zebra crossing, which arguably wouldn't happen in other countries on the Continent. They will, however, try to give your child a lollypop at every given opportunity. How do you stay strong enough (particularly with a strong-willed, sweet-toothed threenager) to say "Não obrigada" and walk away? Well, so far you don't 😉 but it's a great way to teach your child the "All things in moderation" lesson of Life (more about this below).
A vital part of any kind of travel is tasting the local cuisine. Turning 27 in Lisbon (yes, we rocked up in town on my 27th birthday, 😄🎉 watch the video here), I thought it was the perfect moment to try out the famous Pastéis de Nata. Thank you VERY MUCH Manteigaria for your amazing and ADDICTIVE custard tarts 😝! All I can say is I hope the novelty wears off very quickly (kind of)!
How do you find the balance between enjoying the delicious food (or an ice-cream or three, yes three....., in the heat!) and not stupefying yourself on the weighing scales? (Yes my Airbnb apartment has scales in the bathroom 😩). I'll let you know when I find out! Which leads me to...
Single Mum Fitness
One of the things about not being just your regular tourist is that you get to establish a daily routine. But how do you include fitness into that, especially as a single parent? I'm not going to sign up to a gym if I don't know where we will be living in a month and how would I even go about getting a babysitter?!
Since we have been travelling since February anyway, I didn't want to give myself that initial "holiday" (a.k.a. getting-bigger-by-the-day beach bum) period. Since I came to Lisbon with not even a basic level of Portuguese, and do not enjoy worrying about getting off on the wrong stop, I decided that while ever we have the luxury of time on our side, we will walk everywhere. It means I get a feel for which area of the city I want to move to, as well as discovering the hidden gems (and pushing a stroller up the Seven Hills of Lisbon is a sport I'm telling you).
I have also discovered that I can fit in some squats and lunges in between pushing Sienna on the swings (and ignore the funny looks lol), and having her occupied with a lollypop for well over half an hour meant I could work on my abs this morning (the irony I know...)!
Next steps: get a SIM card, get a job and find an apartment... No biggy!