Hello, hungry ones.
If you follow my social media channels, you would know that I am writing this in Portugal. We moved here last Saturday from Spain and I am enjoying my (seven-day) stay so far.
Here are some of my observations. I have to say it’s premature and my opinions may be wrong and ignorant (noob eyes here), so please correct me if I am wrong and in need of clarifications.
1. It’s cold here.
I can’t say “It’s colder than Spain” because Lisbon lies in the middle of Madrid and Malaga (latitude-ly speaking) and we are surrounded by Spain, so I’m pretty sure other parts of Spain are colder, like Bilbao and San Sebastian which are way up north.
Compared to the Costa del Sol though, this place is frigid. We wake up at 7:30 am most days, to a cool temperature of 8 degrees (vs. 11 to 12 degrees in Manilva/Marbella). It also drizzles a lot, which my dog doesn’t like as it shortens his walk, but it’s tolerable. It’s partly cloudy now, and it’s 14 degrees (3 degrees cooler than Manilva/Marbella with its 17 degrees).
For a tropical island girl like me who’s used to the heat, I am really enjoying this. The air is fresh and light (as in zero humidity), and feels good to wake up to. I feel my skin tightening up whenever I’m out so no need for correcting creams (haha!), although make sure to apply some lip balm as the cold really dries out the lips. There’s nothing worse than having a cotton mouth, you know?
2. People are friendly.
I loooooove the Portuguese people. Not to say that I don’t like the Spanish (te amo españolas), but it just feels nice not to be ignored due to being lost in translation. For example, on our first night here, we went to a Chinese restaurant just on our block for a take away dinner. Going home, we (me, Ash, and Bo) hogged the path because it’s empty. I noticed there’s someone walking behind us, so I stepped behind my husband to let the person pass. I muttered “sorry” and he replied! He said, “no problem”.
We were pleasantly surprised as we don’t get that reaction anywhere else in the world. So polite naman here!
Also, if you have a dog, old people would try to talk to you. When my husband went to the grocery Pingo Doce to get some stuff, I waited for him on the church steps as it’s in front of the shop. It was Sunday, 11am, an hour before their second mass. Man, every single one of the lolas (and one lolo), tried to speak to me and Bo. Bo just growled at them but no worries, they just laughed. Me, I try to tell them I don’t speak Portuguese and smile stupidly and say “perdona” a lot. They just smile back.
The other day, while waiting for my husband to finish his school tour, Bo and I hung out in a coffee shop. An elderly family sat beside our table. The matriarch is old, I think she said she’s 72 but she appeared to be 92. She’s blind and had a throaty whisper for a voice. She can’t walk very well and I saw that her ankles were swollen, but she had long, wrinkly hands that touched me every time she tried to pet Bo. Bo instantly liked her. He didn’t growl and he actually went near her for a fuss. This delighted her to no end, and offered a lot of her meaty empanada-style cupcake to Bo. She started telling me that her son (while pointing across the table) doesn’t like dogs. It was awkward but hey, if my dog brings joy to other people, so be it.
3. Spanish language isn’t the same as Portuguese
Before leaving Spain, Ash and I tried to learn Portuguese via Duolingo. It was easy. We both got to level 3 pretty easily. It seemed similar, and we thought, we should continue our Spanish as it is the same as Portuguese anyway.
Yeah, sure they are similar, but also very different. Muy diferente y no esta facil. Same-same but different. I have to change my mindset: It is not Spanish, and we gotta start relearning our words (for example, puppy is cachorro both in Spanish and Portuguese but dog in Spanish is perro while it is cão in Portuguese).
They sound different too. The Spanish language is so strong and loud. If you’re not used t it, you’d think the Spanish are angry all the time. Portuguese language, on the other hand, is so mellow and (almost) muted. They don’t have “hard” sounds like the “rrrrrs” and you don’t have to speak “passionately” to get your point across. I mean, Portuguese restaurants are quieter than Spanish ones EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Saying that, I noticed that I am more fluent in Spanish as I automatically answer them with “Perdona, no me intiendo. Hablo español o ingles?” whenever the locals try to converse (shoutout to all the Lolas of Lisbon). Ha, as if I am 100% fluent in Spanish. I think next time we move to wherever, I’d probably answer back in fluent Portuguese.
4. They don’t eat al fresco.
Ash and I realised the other day that we got spoiled by the Costa del Sol weather where it only rains for 65 days (average) annually. I mean, that’s abnormal, right?
Anyway, we are so used to eating outside so having a dog in Manilva wasn’t an issue. It’s a different story here in Portugal as there’s no al fresco dining, except a little cafe that we call Super Bock. We think it’s because of the colder and rainier climate.
Also, most of the establishments we’ve seen are no-pets-allowed-inside (except for the pet shop), which is acceptable, it’s just that we are not used to it.
5. People dress smarter here.
I love people watching. When I was growing up, Papa always told me to observe everything around me to “know your surroundings” to get a full grasp of my bearings. It’s like some sort of survival lesson (lol) and I carry that with me everywhere I go. With that in mind and a lot of observation time, I can confidently say that the majority are not very keen on wearing jeans and bright colours. I mean, kitsch dressing isn’t the norm.
Like their language, they are also subdued.
I see teenagers wearing proper trousers. I never see old people in trainers. Most women wear boots. I don’t know if it’s the rain or what, but people seem to be much more formal here.
Also, it is colder here so, you know, you can’t really wear clothes like Miley Cyrus does. You do need to cover up to be comfortable!
So there goes my observations. Portugal is so beautiful and old, it’s full of history everywhere you set your eyes on! I am so excited to know more and experience the Portuguese culture! So if you know anything that I should eat/know/visit/do here, don’t hesitate to reach out.