1/x We've now been in #Portugal for a month and I thought I'd share some thoughts on what I've observed and learned so far. These observations might count for much of #Europe, though as I haven't traveled Europe I can't really say what's distinct to Portugal or not.
1. One of the challenges we've faced is telling what's a restaurant, and when it's open. We see storefronts that appear to never be open, and then one day they suddenly will be, and people will be inside. Some of this might just be
2/x bumpins living in a city for the first time, but I also think that restaurants and cafes keep the schedules they want to.
2. Speaking of schedules, there doesn't seem to be a concept of "walking into" a place like a salon or barber shop. This might be related to the space that places are working with? Since most places are small, they can't have a dozen people lining up waiting to be seen. You're expected to schedule an appointment.
3. Following on that last point, deliveries let you
3/x schedule a time when you'll be home, up to the hour. This is because in multi-tenant buildings the company won't simply leave your package at the door as so often happens in the US. If you're not home, you get an email, and they will attempt delivery again the next day, or offer you the ability to select a time. Speaking of deliveries, many places (including the plant store) offer delivery since they know many folks don't have cars, and can't e.g. carry a bird of paradise on the bus.
4. We have gotten by fine without a car, though it is certainly hot here right now and that often dictates when/where you will walk if you have that luxury. We rented a car for a trip this coming weekend - manuals are the standard, so if you don't drive one you pay a bit more for an automatic (and get less selection). We also had to rent a car seat, but as previously mentioned they simply deliver one to your house the day before. I haven't yet driven on any motorways but I'm hoping it's
5/x pretty uneventful.
6. Everyone smokes. 😆 As a former (and sometimes while drunk) smoker, it definitely makes me want to smoke. This seems to be one of those stereotypes about southern Europe that rings true. No, not literally everyone (I used to hear the joke about toddlers smoking in France), but enough so that smoking is perfectly acceptable almost anywhere - though not indoors - and there are smoking zones to accommodate folks everywhere. One interesting observation - lots of people
6/x roll their own cigarettes, which is pretty neat.
7. Wine and food - whether the ingredients or prepared at a restaurant - is extremely inexpensive, while "luxury" items (things you don't need) carry a premium and seem to be slightly more costly than in the US. This is what we'd heard and seems to be mostly true.
8. A note on #wine - holy shit the wine here is good, and I cannot stress how inexpensive it is comparably. Portuguese wine seems to be one of those things that Europe keeps to
7/x itself, and rightly so.
9. No one is in a hurry to serve you. It's not that they're rude, but that's just not the way things are. This is a big reason we moved here, and we're learning to be more patient. This is the way life ought to be - people don't exist just to take care of you. Everyone has their own interests, motivations, and needs, and those seem to be better represented here.
10. Dogs! Dogs everywhere. This may be specific to #Lisbon - I don't know - but people everywhere have
9/x large payments. The IBAN is an account number specific to you, and the transfer is initiated using your bank's web or mobile app. The weird part is that most places then want you to manually email them a screencap or printout of the transaction. I assume this is because it takes some time for the IBAN payment to actually reach them, but they want to go ahead and begin processing your order. It was initially frustrating but now doesn't phase me at all.
12. Finally, anything official
10/x requires a wet signature for any paperwork. Like, you literally need to print and sign something and either bring it to an office or mail it. Literally changing your phone number for your bank account requires this. We were able to set up gas and electricity fully online, but even then they arrive in person to check the meters. Water requires you to go in-person to the office. Even the ISP (Vodafone) requires you to mail them a physical form, with signature, for direct debit payments.
11/x So that's it. These are a few things we've discovered during our first months being #expats in #Portugal. There's still so much to see and do, some of which has been hampered by the heat, and our things still haven't arrived by boat, making it a bit uncomfortable in the apartment. Otherwise, we're happy with our decision and eager to continue to learning about PT and experiencing everything it has to offer. Zero regrets.
Reply if you have questions or insights about anything!
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