Hello everyone. I’m back! Sorry for the long silence.
I’ve been busy since the beginning of 2021, relocating myself to Lisbon, Portugal.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Ireland for its natural beauty, literary tradition, and some of the friendliest people in the world. I would go back and visit in a heart beat. But it was time to move on.
I fell in love with Portugal when I first visited back in 2017. Since then I’ve always wanted to return and experience what it’s like to live in this beautiful country. I chose Lisbon because it is a city big enough to host people from all over the world, with a good mix of diverse cultures. There are events (concerts, seminars, art exhibition etc) throughout the year. It’s near the sea. It has good facilities as well as an international airport to connect with most major cities.
So far I have not been disappointed.
First, let’s talk about hills. After living in “flat, sea level” Dublin for about a year and a half, I was quite excited to add some elevation gains/losses to my daily routine. Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills – they are: São Roque, São Jorge, São Vicente, Santo André, Santa Catarina, Chagas and Sant’Ana. I happen to live on the highest hill of Lisbon, steps away from the highest viewpoint of the city.
Lisbon is a walkable city with countless viewpoints perched on top of those hills. To get there usually requires some climbing.
But if you are tired of going up and down? Options abound – lifts, trams, cable cars, funiculars, you name it. Uber is not at all expensive in Lisbon, and Bolt (I heard) is even cheaper.
Second the smell of the city is wonderful this time of the year (March/April) when the wisteria and orange blossoms are in full bloom.
But it doesn’t stop at flowers. Ambling along streets of Lisbon, you won’t fail to notice the sweet aromas from the freshly baked Pastel de Nata.
Thirdly, the 300 days of sunshine is a lie, according to my other expat friend that is 🙂 Lisbon is known as the sunniest capital in Europe. But that doesn’t keep it from becoming cold and damp in the winter. Although, when the sun does shine through, it is usually intense. I plan out my daily walks around mornings and late afternoons, coming home for a siesta when the temperature climbs up.
Fourthly, there are a good variety of musems and monuments in Lisbon ranging from Portugal’s emblematic art media to music form, most of which are free on Sundays and holidays. With the April 5th re-opening, we were able to catch the magnificent René Lalique exhibit at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian free of charge.
The São Jorge Castle is also free entry this month and to residents of Lisbon all year round. It’s one of the best places to view sunset in Lisbon.
Last but not least, the food.
Food is one of the deciding factors I picked Portugal. Durning our travel around the country, we sampled a great variety of food from different regions of Portugal, each with its own key ingredients, flavours and cooking methods, not to mention the worldly influence from India and Africa. Most fruits and vegetables are locally grown and priced at a bargain compared to Ireland, where the produce are largely imported from Spain or Portugal 🙂 There are a number of organic farmers markets in Lisbon that I am still exploring. So far my favourites are the ones at Santos-O-Velho and Principe Real.
The Portuguese cooking method is what I am most accustomed to growing up in China, more spices, less or no cheese/butter/cream. Lots of rice and vegetable 🙂
Coming up next: Lunch at Alma