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My New Life: The Halftime Report

Updated: Apr 8

Learning Portuguese from the Locals (photo by selfie)

In week 26, I reached the halfway mark of my first year in Lisbon. A halftime analysis was in order.

Learning the Language Is a Challenge…

OMG speaking Portuguese is soooo hard! However, to truly get to know my lovely neighbors and explore the city and country, I have got to get better at speaking and reading the language. While bouncing around so much trying to get my visa and residency sorted, I did not have the time to focus on studying but that is about to change.

In addition to subscribing to an online program, I am trying to learn from locals. I sit on the bench in my beco and listen to my neighbor’s banter, which gives me plenty of material. At my neighborhood cafés, the owners and regulars help me practice. Currently we are working on my pronunciation of sounds that are hard for non-citizens to pronounce. VERY hard that is.

Progress Report: Recently, I went in to one of my regular cafés and ordered a “galão”, which requires one of the most difficult sounds. When the owner smiled and said “You are getting close, VERY close!”, I felt like I’d won a few thousand on a scratch card.

My Goal is to Spend a Year as a Gypsy

With Lisbon rent prices climbing daily, it seems like the perfect time to hit the road for a year and spend time in different places in Portugal. Why tie myself down to one town when I can experience many? I want to spend more time in the slightly smaller city of Porto so I can better understand the intense Porto-Lisbon rivalry. Honestly, the rivalry seems to be felt only among residents of Porto. I learned of it from locals there and have never heard anyone in Lisbon mention it outside of possibly the Porto-Benfica/Sporting football rivalries. I also want to try life in a small town since the last time I lived in one was my hometown of Kingstree, SC. Another choice will be a beach town in the off-season so I can enjoy those places when the crowds have left. My time in Polignano a Mare, Italy and Rovinj, Croatia in November of 2021 was simply wonderful. There are a couple more towns on my radar but I am open to suggestions!

Need Your Input: Where should I go during my gypsy year? Send me any places you know about or would like to know more about. Maybe I will go check them out!

I Want to Learn More Portuguese History

Living in the Alfama, I feel as though I am wrapped in the history of the city. I often wish my beco could talk as I would love to hear its stories. Daily I am grateful to have landed in the very heart of the only neighborhood to have survived mass destruction in the earthquake of 1755. Beyond that experience, my knowledge of Portuguese history could fit into a thimble. If I want to help lose the “Portuguese Disneyland” feel of my immigrant life here, I have to kick it up a notch and actually take that Portuguese history book I bought off the shelf, dust it, and read.

Progress Report: I have managed to translate the plaque on my beco and learned of a famous boxer who lived in one of our buildings. I am off to a roaring start!

I Need to Be a Tourist

I’ve spent so much time trying to be a local, I now need to spend some time being a tourist. I get a little thrown when someone asks me what they should see while in Lisbon. I suggest the obvious tourist spots including a boat ride on the River Tejo, a rooftop bar, and a trip to Belem for monuments and pastries. Outside of that, I am a little at a loss. Heck I’ve never even been to the azujuelo museum and quite honestly, had to google the spelling of “azujuelo” as I wrote that.

My plan is to apply for a resident metrocard which will allow me to get a discounted monthly pass. When I am armed with my new pass, I will be ready to explore.

Send your Suggestions: Have a Lisbon sightseeing tip or even a restaurant you read about? Send it to me!

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