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Saying Goodbye to Lisbon…for Now

Updated: Apr 8

Saying Goodbye to Good Friends

In week 48, with my departure from the beco in less than a week, I spent time with friends and finally faced the task of packing up my home in the beco.

Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

Realizing I was facing the last week in my home in the beco, I spent time with some of my favorite friends. It seems a little unimaginable to leave the life I’ve built here in the past year but I really want to get to know my new country better. So I began the sad task of saying “goodbye for now” to my Lisbon friends.

As Cezar’s (aka Antonio’s) place is on my way home, I would pop in here most afternoons/evenings and spend a few moments with my first friend in Lisbon. Cezar’s is where I came in the beginning and would sit chatting with him while eating a bifana and watching random TV shows or sometimes a football match. Here was where I came when I got my letter saying my Visa was approved. I shared the news with Cezar and celebrated with a ginjinha, the local cherry liquor.

Next was Adam and Elsa. They are a young couple who are incredibly kind and fun to hang around. Adam loves the same football team as me, Manchester City, and he and Elsa would come and watch the games with me at The Couch Sports Bar. I can get a bit animated while watching the games so Adam has me in his phone as “My Little City Hooligan” which always makes me laugh. We watched a game together this week, which was also my goodbye to the staff of the Couch who have always saved a TV for our games.

And of course, my round of goodbyes would not be complete without a night out with Ricky. Ricky was among my first friends who helped me deal with the challenges caused by My Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord. He was, most importantly, our poker night host and introduced me to many new wonderful people. He was the keeper of my spare keys to my apartment and will now be the keeper of my post office box and storage room keys. I trust Ricky and have been so lucky to have him as a friend.

Farewell Toast with Diogo and Ava (photo by author)

Lock-in at Diogo’s

And finally, there was Ava. Like Ricky, Ava also introduced me to lots of people and was the host for many fabulous events at York Burger which were always a great place to meet nice new friends. She would cook a big meal and the brothers at York would serve it up. They charged a modest price for the meal and some drinks. They even arranged for us to take over the fado restaurant one night as it was raining and most of their tables are outside.

One evening, I met Ava at Diogo’s, the restaurant just across from her apartment building. Ava and Diogo have an interesting relationship, much like brother and sister. They spar about him charging ridiculous fees for things like water for dogs. However, she has some special privileges like being able to buy a bottle of wine from him and keep what she doesn’t finish that evening, behind the bar for her next visit. So we love to go there and sit in the window with a view of a busy street, perfect for people watching.

Tonight, Ava and I lingered longer than planned as Diogo locked up the restaurant around us and brought over a half bottle of wine as my going away present. So, we stayed and drank it as we enjoyed our “lock-in” at Diogo’s. It’s been a long time since I was up late enough to be involved in a lock-in but as Diogo’s closes at 9pm, this was my best chance to experience that again!

All My Belongings but My Carry-On! (photo by author)

Houston. We Have a Packing Problem

With four days left, I realized at some point I would have to face the fact I was leaving and start packing my apartment. I knew I had acquired a few things that I would not be carrying around with me for the next year like my beloved crock pot, my hot rollers and mini-Christmas tree. I had also brought back a nice collection of my books from my trips back to the States. All of this had to go into a storage bin yet to be rented.

In my mind, this was a simple process. I had googled and found some storage locations nearby. All I had to do was contact one of them, rent the spot and take my big suitcase full of my stuff there in one trip.

Turns out, I had accumulated a bit more than that. Thankfully, my wonderful new friend Adeline came over and grabbed some of my things, and we carried a load down the hill where I could call a car. She sat with my stuff while I hauled the rest down.

Finally, with the remainder of my belongings at the pickup spot, I called a car. As we waited, we noticed some workers parked in a truck nearby. When the car drove up, thankfully the driver was kind and started packing up everything nicely in his trunk. The workers abandoned their truck and delivered my bags and boxes to the back of the car while the driver continued packing. Quickly I was waving goodbye to Adeline and on the way to the storage bin with the rest of my life.

The driver was friendly and as we chatted, I watched the neighborhoods where I had built a new life pass by. I thought of the year that had passed and all my experiences, mostly good, except those sponsored by my Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord.

Final Night at York Burger

With just my carry-on bag that was going with me left in the apartment, I headed to York Burger on my final night. Luckily, it had just reopened that day. While usually Duarte is strict about not giving you a table outside unless you are eating, when I walked in he said “You better grab that table!” and pointed to the best one just outside the door. Surprised, I reacted “I get a TABLE?!?!?!”

Soon, some of my friends started arriving. I had planned to get to bed early since I was leaving on a morning bus to get out of the apartment before My Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord’s henchman came by with his latest round of empty threats. However, we all lingered until midnight, just hanging out like any other night in this oldest of Lisbon’s neighborhoods that I had called home. Duarte and Carlos brought out a round of shots for a farewell drink which served as the signal it was time to go home.

I went to bed knowing I had hours left in my perfect little home and grateful for having made such kind friends who made my first year so wonderful.

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