Well, hello!

Contrary to what some were wondering, no, we did not get hit by a

So where have we been and why has this blog been so quiet? Well, as with most things, there’s no one reason. The truth is, I think about writing posts all the time, but somehow, I always get sidetracked.

Like, I’ll see something strange – for example a giant panda taking pictures with tourists in the tourist district:

and I’ll wonder what a giant panda has to do with Portugal – which will send me to Google to see if there’s some connection between pandas and Portugal, but the first entry will be a youtube video, so off I’ll go to youtube where I’ll spend the next 7 hours watching videos of pandas being hilarious, but also otters, puppies, and penguins because youtube’s algorithm knows how to manipulate me like a box of clay and it will actually – and this is true – feed me videos titled “Some Penguins Turn to a Life of Crime” which I will definitely watch because how could I not watch that?

In the meantime, I will have completely forgotten about the whole pandas in Portugal thing until I look out the window, realize it’s dark, and wonder where the entire day disappeared to.

Other times, I will just BE the panda. Perplexed and confused, standing in the middle of a busy plaza in Lisbon surrounded by strangers speaking a foreign language, wondering what the hell I’m even doing living in this place.

“What the hell am I doing here??”

Anyway, recently, while visiting the U.S. for the first time in almost a year, we had several friends and family members ask what’s been going on, so I figured it was time to post an update. Maybe a little FAQ to keep things moving…

FAQ #1: “Sooooo? How is it? Do you like it? Are you happy? Any regrets?”

As a general rule, we’re happy and have no regrets about moving. Look, nowhere is perfect. From San Diego’s prices to Boston’s weather, to DC’s traffic, there’s always something. Is Portugal perfect? No. If someone tells you Portugal is perfect, they’re probably trying to sell you their $500 online course entitled: “How to move to Portugal.” But, generally, for us, Portugal is a good fit and we’re happy to be here.

It helps that Lisbon has “pretty privilege”

FAQ #2: What’s been the best thing about living there?

2 things jump to mind: the weather and the sense of safety.

The weather is self-explanatory. If you like sunshine, blue skies, and low humidity, Lisbon is pretty much perfection for a good chunk of the year. Last winter was pretty rainy which got a bit depressing after a while, but spring and summer more than made up for it.

This was late February in a park near our place – bright blue skies, warm sunshine, and plenty of green. We’ll take it!

And this was in May, when massive numbers of Jacaranda trees explode in color all over the city.

As for safety, according to the Global Peace Index, which measures things like violent crime, political instability, access to weapons, and terrorist activity, Portugal ranks 7th in the world for peacefulness. By way of comparison, the U.S. comes in at 131st (of 163 total).

And you can feel it – everywhere you go and with everything you do.

The only time I am even remotely concerned about crime is when we’re in the tourist district, and that’s only because there are pickpockets.

I no longer worry about being in big crowds, I no longer worry about walking around by myself at night (other neighborhoods may have more issues, but ours feels very safe), and I no longer worry about being in the wrong place at the wrong time while bullets are flying.

In the U.S., we had basically stopped going to big public events. Now, we think nothing of going to crowded festivals and concerts.

And you can feel the differences in other ways.

While police may be visible at bigger events, they seem to be present more for traffic and crowd control rather than to head off another mass shooting/terrorist event. Visible security measures in and around public buildings and businesses are scant, and no one has a doorbell camera watching you as you walk down the street.

It is refreshingly relaxed.

If all goes well, these kids will go through their entire school careers without ever hearing the term “active shooter drill.”

FAQ #3: What’s been the worst thing about living there?

The thing that drives me crazy on a daily basis is the number of people in Lisbon who walk their dogs off leash. I don’t know why people do this here, but it’s a thing and it makes me nuts. (And yes, there are leash laws, posted signs, and fenced-in dog parks, but in Lisbon, a good percentage of dog owners ignore all of these things, and, unfortunately, the police are too “refreshingly relaxed” to care.)

Honestly, if people actually have their dogs under voice control, it’s not that much of an issue, but given the number of times we’ve been approached by dogs and realized the owner was nowhere to be found, or was standing across the way loudly-but-worthlessly calling their dog (or dogs), it is clear many do not. It’s just unnecessary and inconsiderate and if you ever want to listen to me rant about something for 7 hours straight just walk up to me and say: “Dogs off leash in Lisbon.”

FAQ #4: Have you experienced culture shock?

I used to think “culture shock” meant being weirded out by how things were done differently in a new place. Like the time we noticed our neighbors at a restaurant looking at us and realized it was because we were eating our cheeseburgers with our hands rather than cutting them up with a knife and fork the way a lot of Europeans do because they are actually socialists.

But that’s not what culture shock is.

Culture shock means being exhausted by change.

When you’re in a new country, you don’t know how anything works and you can’t effectively communicate, so there’s this low level stress that weighs on you every day. Here’s someone’s Facebook post absolutely nailing it:

None of it is “big stuff.” It’s little stuff that should be simple but never is. It’s the illness you’re not sure how to handle – “I think this might be strep throat, but there’s no such thing as a walk in medical care center here. Where do I go to get a quick culture taken?” It’s the problem with your bank account you can’t seem to solve because although the English speaking customer service representative promised someone from tech support would call you back, no one has and you don’t have the direct number to tech support and even if you did, you don’t have the vocabulary to explain the problem to a non-English speaker. It’s having to translate not just words, but heights and weights and distances and temperatures and currencies every single day – “How many kilos of sliced turkey do I want from the deli? Wait…what? You’re saying I don’t want ANY kilos because that’s FAR too much? Good to know.”

Dealing with this stuff day in and day out – otherwise easily-solved problems which are now exceedingly complicated to deal with, constant confusion as to how things work, persistent anxiety over daily living and tasks, all while starting over with building friendships – wears people down and sends many, many of them back to their home countries.

While we are more comfortable with some of these things because of our past nomadic lifestyle, it is still tough at times.

FAQ #5: How is your apartment/neighborhood?

We really like our apartment.

This is not our apartment.

After living in less than 300 square feet for 6 years, 1,000 square feet (Sorry. 92 square meters) feels cavernous. Our place has everything we need to be comfortable, plenty of storage, lots of light, and provides easy accessibility to several fun neighborhoods.

As for the space itself, our apartment answers the question, “what would happen if someone furnished their entire place using only products from Ikea?”

I’m not kidding.

Between price considerations and convenience, we bought everything (every thing!) at Ikea.

Additionally, we had two requirements for our furnishings. First, everything had to be Thor-proof, and second, after 12 years in a beige/brown/cream house and 6 years in a beige/brown/cream RV, I refused to buy anything that was beige, brown, or cream.

We ended up settling on a lot of blues and grays along with dark furniture.

Does our living room have a certain “the waiting room at the psychiatrist’s office” vibe?

Yes, it does.

Was that what we were going for? No, it was not.

But!! It’s not beige/brown or cream!

FAQ #6: Do you miss the RV? Do you miss traveling around?

No. That was a fun chapter in our lives, but we’re happy to have moved on. You really can’t put a price on the joy that comes from flushing a toilet knowing you’ll never have to think about it again.

Plus, we can visit San Francisco without even leaving Lisbon…

FAQ #7: How is Thor doing?

He’s doing great! He’s highly adaptable and is happy as long as we’re all together. He likes being a city dog in terms of exploring and checking out all the new smells and we have a small dog park near us that we can use to throw him his ball.

So Euro…

We do, however, miss having access to big fields and dog parks, and we’ve found it challenging to get him socialization. Related to what I mentioned above, very few people use the dog parks near us, opting instead to let their dogs play with other dogs in unfenced areas of human parks. Because we’re not willing to let him off leash in the middle of a busy city, we’re limited in how we can get him consistent social time with other dogs. Fortunately, we found a very affordable local doggie daycare that’s been great. We drop him off 2 or 3 times a week and he gets his butt-sniffin fix in a safe environment.

Class picture. (How these folks are able to organize this amount of chaos, I have no idea.)
Class field trip: out with some friends at the park.

FAQ #8: How has the medical care been?

Fortunately, we haven’t had a need for anything major yet, but what we have used has been good. We have private insurance and use the private medical system so as to not overburden the public system. Even within the private system, everything costs a tiny fraction of what we paid in the U.S. and the care, at least so far, has been comparable.

FAQ #9: How is language learning coming along?

In some regards, I feel like I’ve made a ton of progress. For example, my tutor will speak to me completely in Portuguese and I understand the vast majority of what he’s saying. But he’s a tutor. He speaks slowly, enunciates every word, and keeps things on my level.

If I go into a grocery store, on the other hand, I will have absolutely no idea what the cashier is saying. I won’t even be able to tell you what words she’s using, much less what they mean.

And I find it incredibly difficult to actually put a sentence together.

If you’ve never studied one of these romance languages, what you need to understand is they are nuts.

Every noun has a gender, and multiple words in a sentence will change form depending on the gender of the noun you’re talking about.

So, not only do you need to learn the vocabulary word for the noun you’re talking about, but you need to learn its gender designation.

And to be clear, that gender designation is completely and utterly random. Worse, sometimes it’s the exact opposite of what you’d think.

Examples? The words for dress and bra are masculine while the words for suit and necktie are feminine.

So you have to know the word, you have to know the (random) gender of the word, and then you have to change the rest of the words in the sentence to match the gender of the object you’re talking about. Then you have to figure out where to put all the words (it’s “the book red” not “the red book”), and THEN you have to figure out the verb’s conjugation.

Example: here are all the possible ways you could use the verb “to walk”

The one you choose is dependent on who is walking and when

I walk, you walked, we will walk, they used to walk, he would walk (to work), I would walk (if I could…) and on and on…

Notice how, in English, the word “walk” usually doesn’t change? Well in Portuguese, the word “walk” changes every time depending on the person and the tense – which is what this chart shows.

And every single verb has a chart just like this.

So, forming a proper Portuguese sentence is a 14 step process and the person you’re talking to will, invariably, switch to English while you’re still struggling through step 3 because you can’t remember whether a toaster is a boy or a girl.

(It’s a girl, but a microwave is a boy, so…there ya go.)

Anyway, while I’ve been bashing my head against the desk trying to learn on my own, Kevin has been waiting for a spot in a formal high intensity language class. He just got a spot, so he will be on his own head-bashing journey soon.

FAQ #10: Does Portugal feel like “home?”

No. Not yet, and honestly, I’m not sure we’ll have that feeling again. “Home” is wherever the three of us are for as long as we’re there. In some ways, that feels a bit sad. In others, it feels incredibly freeing.

FAQ #11: Was coming back to the U.S. weird?

Not really. I had read a lot of accounts of people experiencing “reverse culture shock,” so I had a good idea of things that might feel odd but it just wasn’t that big a deal. Everything is definitely bigger – the stores, the roads, the cars, the people…but the only thing I found somewhat jarring – but welcome – was how chatty and friendly American workers are.

America is never far from mind anyway.

In Portugal, there’s not a lot of small talk, not a lot of “the customer is always right” mentality, and no tipping culture. People just ring up your purchases and send you on your way. And apparently, that’s the case in many European countries.

In the U.S., there’s a lot more friendly small talk. Honestly, it’s nice. Except for when it’s annoying. But it was something I missed and enjoyed experiencing again while we were in the States.

FAQ #12: Why haven’t you been blogging?

When I started this blog, we had just made the decision to buy a motorhome and spend a couple years traveling around the U.S. While researching everything about RV travel, I ran into several blogs and quickly realized there was a nice community of people who made friends with one another through their travel blogs. Once I became part of that community, it fueled our entire social life while on the road.

One of many get togethers of friends we met through the RV blogging community.

But there is no equivalent community here in Portugal. I have run into just a handful of expat blogs and I don’t see the same real-life connections being made in the comments sections. Here, it’s more about Facebook groups, InterNations, and Meetup. So, given everything else we’ve been dealing with, blogging has fallen pretty far down on my priority list.

Additionally, there’s a lot going on in Portugal right now – in terms of housing shortages, a cost of living crisis, and a rather out-of-touch government. While we haven’t had any direct problems, there is clearly some resentment brewing among the local population about all of the foreigners coming here. So writing a blog like this – in the way I write – has the potential to cause offense. Not everyone gets my sense of humor,1 and I don’t want to create unnecessary problems for myself and other immigrants because of what I say on here. Nor do I want to walk on eggshells or limit what subjects I talk about because I’m afraid someone will be offended.

Simply put, sometimes it’s just easier to shut the ole piehole.

So, I don’t know if I’ll post any more articles on this site, but either way, we are happy to report that, one year in, we are alive and well in Lisbon, and we hope you all are doing well too!

  1. Because you just know that right now, someone, somewhere, is wondering “was she actually making fun of how socialists eat hamburgers???” ↩︎
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  1. You are doing awesome! We are so proud of you with this huge step. Things will be less confusing over time. You’ll get there. We can’t wait to see you in a month (lived our visits in the US!) and are excited to see Lisboa!!!

  2. You have no idea how much I loved reading this (and all of your posts). You are an incredible writer and your observations are spot on. I would love to host you three in Croatia (also a very dog-friendly yet leashfree place) for hiking and Balkan culture. Otherwise, looking to visit Portugal with my mom sometime in the next two years.

    • Hi Amy! Yes! This past year has been all about settling in and figuring out how things work. As we move into Year 2, we’re hoping to travel a lot more. Croatia is high on our list and we’d be delighted to have you visit us here. Let’s chat by email and start figuring things out. It’ll be great to see you on this side of the pond!

  3. Well, as usual, that made me laugh out loud. A great summary of moving abroad and what one faces. Not all glamour. We are still all over the place in the US and other and have no idea if or when or where we will settle. Good stuff to keep in mind. Don’t stop writing, your blog is too good!

    • Thank you, Darlene! It is definitely not all glamorous, that’s for sure. But neither is RV life. And neither is suburban life. They all have their ups and downs. As long as you’re generally enjoying whatever you’re doing, I say go for it! You’ll know when it’s time to move on to the next thing. Safe travels!!

  4. Love it! You just crack me up and I´m so happy that I´ll be able to hear your stories and observations anytime over a glass of wine in Lisboa!

    • I’m pretty sure the stories get more pointless and the observations get more useless, the more wine we drink. BUT, it’s always entertaining. 🙂

  5. Your opening had me wondering if you’d been in my head lately! I’ve fallen SO behind in posting, every time I think about it, I can’t decide where to begin, so I don’t. BTW, what IS the deal with the panda, lol? Overall, it sounds like you are enjoying your new life. I’ve always loved your writing style, even your posts about frustrating events never fail to bring a smile or good ‘ol belly laugh. Maybe you should put your skills into making it into book form! I hope you keep posting, at least once in a while, to let us all know how it’s going.

    • Thanks, Laura. I noticed you haven’t been posting much lately either. Between the photos and the writing, it really does start to get overwhelming after a bit, especially when you’re living on the road and constantly having to plan the next thing. Sometimes it’s just easier to throw a photo or two up on Facebook and call it a day. All that being said, though, I do like being able to reread stuff about our travels 4 or 5 years ago. The details fade quickly otherwise. Anyway, thank you for being a loyal friend and reader. I’m sure I’ll throw more articles up here eventually – maybe once I unravel the great Portuguese panda mystery. 🙂

  6. Thanks so so much for writing. Love following your adventures and miss hearing about Thor!! We have a Thor in our family and understand the loose dog issue. Crazy. Please find a way to update us on your adventures. Thanks

    • Thanks, Lou! I’m sure I’ll post once in a while, if for no other reason than to give the people what they want – an update on Thor. LOL. He’s undoubtedly the most popular member of this family. 🙂 Stay well!!

  7. I love your sense of humor. Please don’t stop blogging! We just experienced (not for the first time) what you were talking about with culture shock. On our recent return from France/Andorra, I reveled in going to the grocery store and knowing exactly where everything was, which checkout lane to get in, how to use the payment system, how much chit-chat was appropriate with the cashier, that I needn’t pay for bags (though we always bring our own). I reveled in the wideness of the streets and the ease of parking. Even with just 3 weeks abroad, my brain gets tired trying to figure out every little thing every day. It’s part of travel and I happily accept it, but it’s always nice to get home and not feel completely out of touch all the time.
    Love the class and field trip pictures.
    I learned Spanish in school and French on my own as an adult, but don’t get me started on gender. In Spanish, it’s pretty easy: if it ends in an “o” it’s male. If it ends in an “a” it’s female. Not so in French. Basically, I’ve thrown in the towel on memorizing the genders of French nouns. I figure if I can get my point across, that’s good enough. Then again, I’m just a traveler and not an expat. I can see where you’d want to master them, but I feel for ya just the same. Actually, I’m going to try to learn some Portuguese next in preparation for our trip there. Wish me luck!

    • Yep, that’s exactly it. In the U.S., we could mindlessly go into a store – any store, anywhere – figure out where to find what we were looking for, and leave. Here, it’s a much more involved process. “Which store has what? Where in the store is the item? What is the item called? Why is this person talking to me? Oh my god, I have no idea what they’re saying. Smile and nod, smile and nod, smile and nod… panic, panic, panic….”

      As for genders, yeah. I am pretty much just resigned to the fact that I am going to get these things wrong all the time, but if I can get my point across, who cares? I’m never gonna be fluent. I’m not even trying to get there. I just want to be able to have a basic conversation, understand and be understood, etc. I’m not trying to write the next great Portuguese novel.

      I’m telling you, the key to happiness is low expectations.

      If you’re looking for good, free, language learning content, check out Practice Portuguese on Youtube. I use a paid version of their platform, but they’ve got a lot of good beginner level stuff on their youtube channel. Do not use Duolingo. It’s Brazilian Portuguese which is different.

  8. I loved reading this, Laura. You are so refreshingly honest, and so danged hilarious! I’m sure you know this, but both of those qualities serve you well in your life adventures. The reality is that it’s really exciting but also really hard (on so many levels) to uproot yourself and start all over again in a new environment. Especially when you don’t speak the language and you’re not sure if the toaster is a boy or a girl, LOL.

    I’m glad you’re finding so much of what you hoped for in Lisbon and that you’re finding solutions to the challenges. Sending Thor to doggy day care is brilliant! (How do they know all of those dogs are going to get along??)

    I have to tell you, that pic of all of us together made me nostalgic for the days when we knew we could meet up in our RV travels. Those were good times. Keep writing, my friend! ❤️

    • Thank you, Laurel! I miss those days too. It certainly was a lot easier socially when we were all just motoring around, crossing paths every couple of months and hanging out. Like everything, moving here has required tradeoffs, and leaving so many good friends behind is firmly in the negative column. At least with you guys settled in one place (for the most part), it’ll be easier to find you when we’re back in the States! I’m still hoping to make that happen next visit. I’ll let you know when I figure it out (it all depends on Kevin’s class schedule). XOXO

  9. Thank you for putting this together. As you know, many of us were wondering how you were doing. Loved the format of this post, you answered each and every question we had.
    I can see how your sense of humor can be misinterpreted. I have the same issue here, some people just others way too literally.
    Good luck over there, you will be missed!

    • You mean having to explain the “farmer mafia” to half your readers? LOLOLOLOL….

      Thanks for your good wishes! I’ll be following along with all your latest adventures and projects – assuming your blog email shows up in my inbox. Which happens about 40% of the time. (Beats me. I’ve stropped trying to figure it out.)

  10. I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog AND your sense of humor! I once thought it would be great to move to Portugal, Panama, or some other country where there is a large expat community. I think I will stay in Canada, continuing our winters in wonderful Southern USA destinations. Our money and political thoughts may be near worthless in the USA, but I am really lousy at new languages. When visiting family in Germany which I have done for years, I have only mastered buying bread at a bakery or visiting a coffee shop! Half the time after my first few words, they just start talking english to me anyway! lol
    I wish you both all the best!

    • Thank you very much, Leonard. Canada in the summer and the southern U.S. in the winter is pretty idyllic, if you ask me. While moving abroad has been quite an adventure, it’s a huge, exhausting, and expensive challenge too. Don’t let the Instagrammers tell you otherwise!! 🙂

      As for the language thing, I will say, one of the online tutors I sometimes watch is a polyglot who speaks 5 languages. He said the hardest for him to learn was German… so, maybe don’t sell yourself short. It’s apparently a tough one.

      Stay well!

  11. I am selfish! Please keep writing and letting us know how your new chapter is coming along. Love your humor and skillful twist on life. We have found a wonderful community South of Jackson Hole, WY and have spent the summer here, in our RV on a lot that we had purchased. No bugs, lots of pickleball and good old fashioned fun. Our adult summer camp here is soon ending and we will be in St George, Utah until next Spring. Please keep in touch. Jana/Mike Middleton

    • Thank you, Jana, and I will definitely keep in touch. You do too! (If you’re on Facebook, send me a friend request. I post on there a bit more often these days). Anyway, I can’t imagine many places more spectacular to spend the summer than Jackson Hole. That is one gorgeous town! And winter in Utah is perfect too. Sounds like a great set-up. You two stay well!!

  12. I was reading portions of your post to Ken last night (yes, I do dramatic re-enactments of your stories, so what?) and we both commented how much we enjoy your writing voice and have missed hearing from you. That being said, you should write posts exactly when/if you feel like doing so. There’s no need to write just for the sake of feeding the blog monster.

    In any case, it’s great to hear that you are settling into life in Portugal so well! It will probably never NOT be hard to deal with the language and some of the cultural quirks, but with enough solid routines in your life and a pleasant, beautiful place to live you’ll have plenty of non-stressful times to make up for the snafus with the bank. Plus you know you can always redecorate your place in a snap and on a budget when the new IKEA lineup drops. Having lived in several IKEA showroom houses myself, I recommend it! But the blue/gray theme you have going is perfect, if you ask me.

    Give Thor a cookie from us and assure him that he (with the collar and leash on his neck) is the normal one and not the naked weirdos wandering around town.

    • Wait, do these dramatic readings of my blog posts involve costumes and staging a la Shakespeare in the Park? Because if not, they really should. 🙂

      I am 100% with you on the Ikea thing.. I already want to trade some pieces out, but am letting the budgetary dust settle before going down that road. It’s just nice to know that we can switch things out pretty easily when we’re ready – and Ikea will always have new options. We also just brought some bits and pieces back with us from the U.S. – photos, etc. So, those will hopefully warm the place up a bit too. It just takes a while to make any place feel like ‘home.’ I know you know what I mean.

      Anyway, Thor says “Thanks for the cookie!” 🙂

  13. I was SO happy to see this in my email this morning!!!
    I missed you all a whole heck of a lot!
    True, we’ve never met and probably never will…but please know that what you have shared has been profound in many, many ways…especially entertaining and educational.
    I wish you nothing but the peace, love, health, prosperity and safety….AND
    In hopes of future stories….”I’ll leave the light on”!
    Cheers from Tucson, AZ

    • Thank you so much, Lisa! You’ve always been so kind and supportive and I truly appreciate it. I was honestly really disappointed when I realized that there was no big blogging community here. I guess I just assumed there would be and that things would work the same way in the Expat community as they did in the RV community, but I think blogs, in general, have become less of a thing. (I guess everyone’s on Tik Tok now. Lol.) It’s unfortunate, though, because we really did meet so many nice people through this site – even the ones we never got to meet face to face. 🙂 Anyway, let’s stay in touch – here, Instagram, whatever works. And I wish you all the best too! Stay well!

  14. Glad to hear life is going well for you. When I was younger, I lived in Germany for a short time and as much as I loved the experience, I have no interest in living abroad ever again. I can relate to the language struggle and never got the whole gender designation thing that also exists in the German language.

    Now that we too have left the RVing community, I’ve struggled with keeping up with the blog and know I’ll eventually shut it down. Best wishes for this new chapter in life and hope you’ll continue to share tidbits with us from time to time.

    • Thanks, Ingrid. Everyone seems to be suffering from the post-RV travel writing doldrums. The RV stuff just makes it easy. Between the limitless subject matter and the friendly community, it’s a terrific hobby for the road. But once folks settle into one location, they quickly get out of the pattern and lose interest. It happens. I know you’re happy to have the record of your time on the road though, and I like the idea of transferring blog posts into some sort of book form. Another project for the future!

      Best wishes to you guys too!

  15. We can relate to your comment about thinking about writing posts all the time. We do just that, but experiencing life gets in the way. I mean, if all we did was write blog posts, we would never have time to do the things we write blogs posts about. It is a Catcha 22. 🤪 So glad to hear you and Portugal are getting along just fine. If you ever do find that ‘perfect’ place, don’t blog about it, just send us a private text with the details. 😉 Pico would go ape-shit crazy if we walked him down a street and other dogs were off lease coming up to him. OK OK OK, flushing the toilet and never having to think about it again!!! That is an interesting comment about RV life. I will have to ruminate on that for awhile before I decide if I agree or not. The weekly black tank flushing is so much a part of our life, I can’t even imagine life without it. By the way LOVE the dog class photo. I can relate to the comment you made about learning a language. We bought a lifetime subscription to the App Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish. So far no luck. Hope this isn’t your last post, but I can tell you I LOVED this one. Jim

    • Thanks, Jim. I’m telling you, once you get out of the RV, you will quickly adapt back to life with normal sinks and toilets and adult sized refrigerators and everything else. You don’t realize how nice is it is until you get back to that stuff and it’s like “ahhhhhhhh…” 🙂

      Blog posts are a lot of work – much more than people think. And blogs like yours – long form, tons of photos and helpful links, well researched topics – those are REALLY a lot of work. So yeah, it’s easy to fall behind or just keep adding to the list of possible topics for “some day.”

      And yes, when and if we find the perfect spot, we’ll certainly keep it on the downlow and send it your way. In the meantime, I’ll look forward to your next posts – about whatever you feel like writing about!

      Safe travels and be well!

  16. So…you two have been so much fun to follow…via my friend forwarding your blog posts to me! My husband and I will be having our VFS appointment in early November. We were hoping to meet you when we get to Portugal. Hopefully we can find each other because we have thoroughly enjoyed your humor!
    All the best,

    • Hi Jeanne,

      Nice to meet you and I’m happy to hear you’re planning to make the big move. While I may not be posting on here, we’ll certainly still be around. Just drop me an email – [email protected] – and we can figure things out. And feel free to reach out if you need help with anything in the meantime. Good luck!!

  17. It was great seeing you a few weeks ago! Sorry to have missed Kevin. Keep blogging if you can. Your blog posts are terrific! Henry and I have loved following the three of your throughout your US travels and now hearing about all of your adventures in Portugal. We wish you all the best with your new life there.

    • Thank you so much, Heidi! It was great seeing you too and I’m looking forward to hearing all about your trip to Greece. Please post lots of photos since it’s high on our list of places to visit while we’re living here, and it sounds like you definitely got some good insider info. And, hopefully, we’ll be seeing you again next year when we visit. It’ll be here before we know it! Take care!!

    • Thank you, Pam. I probably should have posted an update a while ago, but you know… pandas. 🙂 I’m glad I get to see your updates on Facebook and hope we can stay in touch that way. (Even if Facebook IS evil, it’s still useful at times. 🙂 )

  18. Thanks for the update & happy you’re settling in. What a beautiful place with moderate weather, and not having to be worried you could be shot merely by turning in the wrong driveway. Sounds pretty perfect to me!
    Your writing still makes me chuckle..which is always a good thing in these troubled times!
    Best wishes

    • Thanks, Debbie. I think we all kinda need to have a sense of humor with some of this craziness because otherwise, we’ll just want to cry. I know you’ve got your hands full these days. I hope you’re taking some time for yourself and relaxing a bit too. Stay well and please take care of yourself.

  19. Perfect FAQ, the very same questions I would be asking you when we see you. Now all we do is just eat, walk and talk other stuff 🙂
    Yes i was literally wondering how you guys are doing other than seeing those intermittent FB posting. Glad to hear that after one year you are settling nicely and slowly learning the language, but please dont speak to us in Portuguese when we see you.

    Like you I have not missed RVing, except that I missed the friends we met and forged and the trails and the new frontyard every week.

    • Don’t worry, ML, even if I wanted to speak in Portuguese, I’d probably screw it up anyway. 🙂

      We’re looking forward to seeing you guys and catching up!

  20. Laura! I was just thinking about you guys! Wondering how you are doing and if life is good. Now I know! I loved your update! Although I have never lived abroad, I can only imagine. Keep living life at your own pace and place. Love to hear from you every once in a while (no pressure). Take care!

    • Tami!! I’m glad you guys continue to post new articles on your site so I can keep up with all your amazing travels. I have so enjoyed journeying around Alaska vicariously through you guys and look forward to seeing where you head next. And blog or no blog, there’s always good old Facebook to keep up with one another!! Safe travels to you and Scott!

  21. Love hearing how you two are doing! And I totally get what you mean by the language. I’ve been taking French for a little over 18 months and I can completely understand my tutor and other students. Then I try to watch French TV or listen to a podcast and I realize I know nothing!

    • Isn’t it crazy how different it is? But thinking about it, we all talk fast and use tons of idiomatic expressions that would completely confuse a newcomer. I definitely have a whole new respect for people who move to other countries and have to make their way. We, at least, have the luxury of taking our time to learn. And we can solve lots of problems with the various apps and tools that exist nowadays. Many other immigrants haven’t had these advantages.

  22. So, so SO MUCH this: “You really can’t put a price on the joy that comes from flushing a toilet knowing you’ll never have to think about it again.” Which is why I’ll be in a winter rental for 4 months 🙂 I also get your answer to the “why no blog” question – it’s a lot of time and energy and you’ve done it for so many years. Take your time, enjoy Portugal!

    • Annie, other people don’t know! They have no idea the struggle involved in waste tank management!!!! LOL.

      Having ourselves done the Air BnB break from RV life, we know exactly how awesome it is to get that does of normality. Life on the road is fun and all, but sometimes you just need a regular place to call home for a bit. It’s especially nice during the weather extremes – be it hot or cold. Enjoy it all and you’ll be reinvigorated for a whole new season of travel by Spring!!

      Stay well!

  23. I really love how you write, convey the realities of your move and how insightful you are about life abroad after only one year. And of course you’re hilarious. I do understand about writing less on your blog, when we stopped RV’ing I innocently thought I’d continue the blog but didn’t. Then we moved to Mexico I thought I’d start again, but didn’t. So respect for the fact that you’re writing at all. As you know, much of the information found online isn’t very realistic. The gray areas are important.

    • Thanks, Brenda. I have honestly found it strange how hard it is is to get frank information about some of these things. I think people hesitate to complain because they don’t want to seem ungrateful, but there are no perfect places, and it helps to know you’re not alone when things get hard.

      We’re looking forward to meeting you guys in person. It’ll be nice to sit down and compare notes. In the meantime, let us know if you need anything!!

  24. Hey, I was experiencing culture shock and didn’t even know it! Your description of everything being new and having to learn how everything works is exactly how the year of home building was. At least there was no language barrier (usually, ha!)

    I like the IKEA look and make no apologies for it. I particularly like your sofa. 😉 Did you ever trick Kevin and get those red and blue dishes?

    I resent the blogging doldrums comment. Just teasing! Mostly. Teasing again! But I haven’t given up, though I know I’m very much in the minority. I really, really, really don’t think you should give up, either. You’re the gal who wrote a whole post on your Craigslist (?) experience, among other topics that have had nothing to do with traveling. I’d miss it A LOT if you stopped, is what I’m saying.

    And that picture of all of us is a damn classic!

    • Yep, it sure is a classic – representative of so many things from that whole period of time. Or should I say “Chapter”? I mean, really, if I was going to keep this blogging thing honest, I’d have to change the name to Chapter 4 Expats or Chapter 4 International or Chapter 4 What Have We Done????? But who wants to deal with all that hassle? Much easier to just ignore the whole thing. 🙂

      I did not end up getting the dishes you have but we did get other ones. I’m not sure if I showed you pics of our kitchen, but the cabinets are red, so the dishes would have clashed. We went with classic white to keep it simple… but no more Corelle. We’re all grown up now, you know! And we, too, like the sofa very much! Super comfy and (more importantly) easy to maintain when you have a fur monster for a roommate.

  25. I really enjoy reading your blog posts and learning more about your lives in Lisboa, Laura. But I totally get why you’d give up blogging. It is so darn time consuming and I hear you about always offending someone. All the one-star reviews for my travel memoir “Plunge” are from readers who couldn’t deal with my “brutal honesty” and when Mark and I were interviewed by CNN, I received hate mail after it was published! It churns my stomach thinking about how hateful, disrespectful, and intolerant some folks are and sometimes it makes me think I should stop writing all together.

    There is one dog in Thor’s field trip photo that looks like Maya, the other brown one. Your pup seems like he has a lot of fun as well. Regarding off leash dogs, we are totally fine with that as long as the owner has him/her under voice control (and picks up after them). And, if the dog is docile. We like walking Maya off leash in nature, where she can have good exercise. In cities, we are too worried about traffic. Or, we make her heel.

    It did cross my mind that you should never take Thor to Mexico or Central or South America. ALL the dogs – stray or owned – roam about without a leash here. We’ve had to fend off plenty of growling, aggressive dogs. Yikes!

    • Yep, I am oftentimes amazed at just awful people can be online. I’d usually just write it off, but we’re guests in this country and there are enough issues as it is without potentially creating more. And given how time consuming blogging is to begin with, the last thing I want to do is sign myself up to spend even more time spent bickering with people about what I did or didn’t mean when I made some offhand comment. Blech. No.

      As for the dog issues, yeah, we would never be able to deal with South America. Everywhere we’ve lived, people walked their dogs on leash and took them to fenced in dog parks to socialize. When we would hike, we’d let our dogs be on a retractable leash to give them more freedom, but given their prey drives, we couldn’t let them wander off leash. One squirrel, rabbit, or deer and the dog would be gone. Like I said, I don’t care when people actually have their dogs under voice control, but I’m super tired of being rushed by these dogs and having to have this moment of “are they gonna want to play with each other or is this gonna be a fight?”

  26. It is great to see a post from you and to hear that you guys are doing well. I am WAY behind on my blog. We have been crazy busy since we saw you in Lisbon. That is the story of our life though. We just left on our first road trip in a year. I’m looking forward to getting away from the construction/remodel of our house. Pretty stressed lately with all of the design work that had to be done before we left. Taking a deep breath and enjoying the ride. I hope this next year is exciting for you. Enjoy Europe!

    • You guys do stay very busy, but it suits you. You would be bored living a traditional life in one place. I say, embrace it and keep moving! And I know how hard it is to keep up the blog when you’re always on the move, but it is nice to be able to look back on, and it gives people like me so many ideas for future travel, so I selfishly hope you’ll write about everything eventually. In the meantime, safe travels wherever – and however – you go!


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