We have now been living in our apartment for almost a week and all three of us are settled in and happy with our little haven in the “City of Seven Hills.”
Our apartment is a studio/one bedroom with a large full kitchen, a beautiful marble bathroom with a huge tub (Zoë’s current favorite place to play and “swim”) and all the amenities that you can think of while traveling. It’s fully furnished, with a dishwasher, and clothes washer. Our “clothes dryer” is the line hanging five stories above the ground that utilizes solar power. Yes, you read that right, we are on the 5th floor, with no elevator. It doesn’t even really bother me yet because I love the apartment so much! My legs better will be amazing when we leave for the next destination, so how can I look at it negatively? Also, there is a hook and pulley set-up in the center of the stairs, so we are able to pull up our groceries instead of carrying them… I tried to see if it would hold my weight and, alas, a bag of groceries seems to be it’s limit.
My first order of business after we got settled last Thursday, was to start doing the massive amounts of laundry that we had been saving up since Curacao. I know, I know, it’s such an exciting and adventurous life I lead in between the “travel” type things we do. But it is a nice change to just be somewhere where I can stop for a while and accomplish some household things that are in great need of attention. In fact, I just finally finished all the laundry today, and I felt so accomplished! (Yes we had that much laundry!!)
Anyways, onto more exciting things (unless you are one of those people that are enthralled with household chores, there are some people out there like that, right?)…
And yes, that brings me to food! Each day Chad, Zoë, and I have been having lunch at a different restaurant, also called a snack bar or Pasteleria, in our new neighborhood. Each of these quaint places sport a glass counter filled with pastries and some tables for those that want lunch. It seemed odd at first to see a person walk in and stand at the counter and have an espresso and snack, but I have gotten used to seeing it and have actually done it a time or two. It’s not unpleasant, but can be a bit difficult with Zoë trying to hide her face in my shoulder, leg or skirt (almost to the point of pulling it off of me!) from the customers and employees that pinch her cheeks and try to talk to her.
Zoë is very shy, and I am sure that people speaking another language and trying to pat her head or pinch her thigh, makes her even more shy, but she is getting better. The people here are so nice and patient and find it very humorous when she covers her eyes with her arms when they talk to her. Everyone seems very family oriented here and everywhere we have gone has been very kid friendly.
Ok back to the subject at hand…the food. Every pasteleria has pretty much the same menu: pastries, beef/steak plates, fish plates, or pork plates. All the meat plates come with home made olive oil french fries or rice, and usually a salad or vegetable. So far, everything I have tried has been wonderful. I usually stick with seafood, because it is my favorite and its so inexpensive and delicious. Chad usually gets the pork or beef, so we get to try each others. It’s a match made in heaven…seriously! Zoë has tried everything that we have for the most part, including whole grilled octopus (oh my gosh…so yummy!) and she has quite an advanced palate for a two year old.
We found a couple of super markets nearby and have been taking daily walks around to see what is around us. Sometimes we hop on the metro and just get off at an exit that seems good, and explore. We did that today and found a park (with a mediocre playground for Z, but she was happy with it) that ended with a huge amazing fountain that must have been about 5 stories tall and a city block wide. It is crazy to me, and I feel so blessed, that we are in a city that we can get off at a random metro stop and there can be an amazing structural beauty such as this. And that’s been the case in most parts of the city of Lisbon that we have seen so far. In the midst of all the shopping and restaurants, there will be some sort of monument or statue that honestly, puts most of our American monuments to shame. Just the fact that they are older and more diverse here, than our monuments and statues back home, makes them more appealing and enthralling (to me at least)!
There are a couple of ways that culture shock has been setting in for me, but the most difficult thing for me so far, is that they do not have baby changing stations in any of the bathrooms, unless it’s the bathroom of a tourist attraction (museum, aquarium, etc.). This means that I have had to get used to changing Zoë’s, sometimes very poopy, diapers while she stands. Of course, this is only in public areas, but you other parents know, if there is nowhere to change the diaper of a child, that is when they will have a poop explosion. It has happened a few times now (lucky me!), and I think I have finally gotten it down. I can be in and out of the typically claustrophobic and badly lit rooms in about 5-10 minutes flat. Unfortunately, Zoë does not enjoy standing as I clean her up and she usually cries and screams, but the people nearby have not assumed that I am beating her or anything, thank God (or at least I hope so)!
Despite all the differences between Santa Rosa, California, and Lisbon, Portugal, I still love this city. Chad and I are actually considering making this our home base for another month (so two months total) and just taking a weekend or week long trips to other countries in Europe. Lisbon has been so wonderful to us so far, but we do want to see more this summer. We are undecided still on what to see, we are considering different possibilities… southern Spain, Greece, Italy, and maybe Croatia. Maybe you all could help us, where would you recommend that we visit? Leave a comment here and let us know where and why…we love to hear others stories and opinions!
Until Friday my friends, ciao ciao!