Sunday, August 26, 2007

Portugal Update

We moved into our new home in Parede. We love it because it's very close to the train station and about 130-meters to the beach. We live in a shaded area and, therefore, have not even had to use a fan. Matt's commute to work is very short. Since we don't have a car (we bought a car over the weekend and should have it by late this coming week - our 4-Runner is en route), he's been taking the train to work and that has worked out very well.

Our laptop died and, therefore, it may be a while before we have access (aside from using friends computers). Once we get a computer, we'll hook up an internet phone to it and will be able to call the US for three cents a minute. We'll purchase a US number so anyone from the States who has a free-long distance plan, will be able to call us for free. Unfortunately, it may be several weeks before we get that up and running.

So far, we really like Portugal. We get odd looks because Matt and I carry our kids on our backs. It's the best way to get around the cobblestone streets and get to the train station. Most people here use fancy umbrella strollers. We did cave in and buy an umbrella stroller too because I, obviously, can't carry both kids on my back when I'm alone. But, I much prefer carrying the kids than I do using a stroller. Besides, I get a better workout.

There are a couple things I don't think I'll get used to. One is the dog poop on the streets. Not only are there a lot of friendly strays, owners don't bother to pick it up.

The other thing I can't get used to is the smoking in public buildings. Restaurants, shops, etc. The Portuguese are attractive people - in their 20's and early 30's. By the time they hit their late 30's, they look twice their age because of their heavy smoking and life of lack of sunscreen use.

I've been having fun eating my way through Portugal. There are several pastry shops/coffee shops around. I'm addicted to chocolate croissants and various other pastries I can't name.

I've finally been able to go to the Mums and Tots group and meet a group of ladies. There are a lot of new people here. Most from different branches of the military. I find it strange that most people (new and old) have little or no interest in learning the language. I, on the other hand, find it difficult and frustrating to get around. I want to KNOW exactly what I'm eating and buying. So, I signed up for a three-credit Portuguese language class at the University of Maryland at NATO. It starts tomorrow night. Finding a sitter to watch the kids until Matt got home was a challenge, but I worked it out and hopefully all will go well.

I have a lot more things I could write about. But, not enough time. We miss everyone back at home and I'll do my best to update more often in the near future.


House Dad said...

Woohoo. Glad everything is working out.

Angie said...

That's great that Matt can take the train to work. That's probably easier than driving anyway.

Those chocolate croissants seem to be all over Europe, I believe. (Listen to me, like I've been all over, but if they have them in Portugal than that makes 4 countries.) Very yum. Other types are also great.

I don't want to carry a kid on my back. Too bad you aren't close so I could try out your Ergo carrier. It must be much better. We really like a stroller for now.

I'm glad that you are enjoying yourself. And, learning the language is great. I haven't done enough. I need to get back online and do the Rosetta Stone. I like the program, though I was frustrated with it at first, because I didn't learn the every day greetings and stuff. Some stuff, like menu items, you will pick up slowly. I would just like to be able to talk to my neighbors (most are not American.)

Alaska Dunns said...

Hey Natalie!

Just found your blog. Glad you made it. Sounds like Portugal is going to be an amazing experience!