We started this blog with much excitement back in December 2017. That seems like a world away now. Adapting to living abroad was very difficult. Thus our time spent blogging waned as reality set in. Nestled into our humble abode here in Portugal, I can feel my creative juices flowing strong once again. Do you know what that means? More writing! YES!! While it may be long overdue, it is time to record in the digital world our journey from the Netherlands to Portugal.
So Long, Rotterdam!
First, let me say that living in Rotterdam was nothing short of amazing! Life in the city was eventful, lively, and convenient. Despite our circumstances, we managed to land a great apartment nearly in the heart of it all. We spent the next year working on building our web design business and getting our 2-year residency approved. Building a business in a country where you don’t speak the language is not for the faint of heart, and not for us either, or so we came to find out. Our accountant cost us more than we were making, so we had to find another means to bring in some money as our savings we worked so hard to build was dwindling in short order. Thanks to Jake’s determined nature, he found online teaching, and with it, all the steps we needed to take to get started. I had always loved teaching; it was my favorite task in my corporate job, and in my volunteer time. So we dove in head first!
Great! Problem solved – or was it? We continued to keep our business afloat. That meant teaching during the day and web design at night. We finally had some breathing room, financially speaking anyway. Our apartment was so small you couldn’t break wind without it echoing down the one small hallway we had. However, this is not where we wanted to be long term. Our goals were to live far below our means. While we were doing that in Rotterdam, rent in the city was expensive, and we wanted more space with fewer bills. For us, this meant seeking out an LCOL country. Portugal fits the bill! Without overthinking or even much planning, we began the application process for our Visa’s. I’m not going to go into the details for the actual Visa process, maybe make a separate post for that. It is informational, but a bit boring to discuss.
Moving our small amount of belongings was simple and challenging all at the same time. We started to build a life in Rotterdam, and that meant we purchased things we didn’t want to leave behind. Not allowing this to discourage us, we marched on, found all the solutions we needed and booked our flights (Laika included). Not having a clue where to start looking for an apartment in Portugal, we blindly booked an Airbnb, and on September 30, 2019, we landed in Faro, PT.
We left a cold and rainy Rotterdam for a warm and sunny Portugal. The day we arrived was beautiful and did not disappoint. The people we met were as warm and welcoming as the weather. We were off to a good start! We had no address for our Airbnb, just GPS location (that made shipping our belongs interesting too!). Our driver had no problem finding our place, and we arrived without a hitch. Upon walking in, I instantly felt welcomed. There was yellow splashed everywhere, and it smelled like my late Gram and Gramp’s home. Although, I am positive that the familiar smell had to be the smell of mothballs.
The excitement of arriving in Portugal and our cute little Airbnb would soon fade. Not that this is a bad thing; however, there were some challenges. For one, the internet in Portugal isn’t quite like the internet we had in the city. The poor internet brought frustrating difficulties to our jobs as online teachers. We also soon found out that we would not have all the cushy conveniences we had in the city. We were in a rather small town; the shopping choices for food were not terrible, but not great. Our, admittedly spoiled selves wanted to be able to order our blessed Wok To-go! Luckily for us, we made arrangements to have use of a car once a week. That was one of my favorite days! We could go out, walk around, get some yummy food, and stock up on groceries.
The mountainous landscape was such a refreshing change for all of us, Pups included! She had space to run, new smells, and hills to run up. The beaches in Algarve are breathtaking. I had never experienced this type of landscape, not in person. The way the cliffs hug the coastline, shaped over the years by the ocean, makes you feel so small, and at the same time, overwhelmed with the vastness of our world.
We spent Thanksgiving here, another different type of Thanksgiving, sans turkey and all the trimmings. Jake surprised me with a beautiful day in Monchique. Hiking through the mountains of Monchique did not disappoint; it was a walk in the clouds! It may not have been a turkey dinner, but I bet my waistline appreciated this more. We ended the night with a lovely dinner, overlooking the mountains. Back in the states, this would have cost a fortune, here, it costs under 30 euros, and it was a meal with all the trimmings. One to the many things to love about this country. You can enjoy great food and wine without spending a lot.
Challenges aside, staying in the Algarve region of Portugal was a treat! It was not going to be our final stop; long term rentals were not in the cards. As quickly and blindly as we made arrangements to move to Portugal, we booked another Airbnb closer to Lisbon. Next stop – Encarnação. But before I move on to the next part of our journey, I can’t forget to talk about our wonderful hosts and saviors in Porches. On our last night, we took an Uber to a car rental place about 25 minutes away. We needed a van to get all of our belongings to our next destination. Upon arriving there, they didn’t take our Dutch debit cards. Now, we have to Uber back to our place in Porches and figure out how to paddle out of shit’s creek! With our tails between our legs, we knock on the door of our hosts and ask if they can come back with us and let us use their credit card to rent our van. Once we get to the car rental place, she realizes she doesn’t know the PIN code to her card, and it’s at home. Hubby drives back to obtain the PIN, and voilá, we have our van. All is well that ends well. We got our van, thanks to the trust (and patience) of our gracious hosts. The following day, we packed our van and headed off for our first Portuguese road trip.
Our time spent in Porches is just the start of our experience here in Portugal, check back next week for the next leg of our journey!