First Week in Lisbon

Yes… Today marks exactly one week since I arrived in Lisbon. The first week went seriously fast… I imagined it to be quite slow, and I would have lots of time to do things … but things didn’t work out quite that way.

I spent the first week volunteering at a film festival, which was exciting in some ways and interesting in others. It was fun to meet different people, including some who moved here from abroad and made Lisbon their home — and to hear what tips they had for settling in and their impressions. What struck me was that all of them appeared very positive about living here, and all were glad they made the move — even if it mean much lower wages than in Northern Europe. But everyone commented on the much better quality of live, the vibrant cultural scene and generally amazingly friendly reception they received. The only “downside” was the complexity of Portuguese… nothing surprising there (it really is a complicated language to learn!).

I’m currently living in São Bento — close to the Parliament building, and next to Bairro Alto, Chiado and Principe Real. This is very much central in Lisbon — and close to almost everywhere. The film festival is in Avenidas, the main Avenue on the other side of these three areas. I decided to walk a different way to “work” every day, walking though various backstreets of Principe Real or Bairro Alto: Of course, while Lisbon isn’t a large city (or at least nowhere as big as say London) I still haven’t managed to see many parts… but at least this gave me chance to explore the neighbourhood and surrounding areas I’m in in more detail.

I also had three friends visiting briefly from London, so there were a few opportunities to catch up — and it was great to see them. The common thing everyone remarked was how (positively) surprised they were about Portugal — and how Portugal is really underselling itself abroad. It was quite interesting that all of them talked about this as a major point… and all of them have sworn to come back and explore more. So there is definitely something there.

The festival is still on until Saturday — so I’ll still be working a bit for the rest of the week. I’m looking forward to watching a few movies and working — and then hopefully I’ll be a bit more settled next week to write again more regularly and work more on the projects I have lined up.

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