We love Lisboa

Yesterday we learned how to take the metro. It’s super easy and convenient. Today we decided to take a break from running errands and to just play tourist. I’m glad we did- we really needed the break.

We took the metro to the Praca do Comercio. We took the elevator from the metro up to ground level and when the elevator doors open it’s one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. I have been wanting to go over there because it’s in so many videos and blog posts and is instantly recognizable. It was interesting being over there because it’s much more touristy than anywhere else we have been. The prices are higher and people speak English to us before we even get a chance to say anything. We’ve already gotten more used to being around locals.

We walked around the pedestrian only areas for a while and then took the metro back home. We stopped at a nearby grocery store to get a few more things. They sure do love their yogurt here, which is great since Leo loves yogurt too. We’re back at the rental with a few new toys and the kids are happy for the moment. I love going around Lisbon, but it’s nice having an easier day. Monday we’re going to see if we can go get Portuguese SIM cards for our phones.

The more we see of Lisbon the more we love it. It’s so beautiful here and I always feel safe so far. Sofia waves at everyone and they wave back, which delights her. People stop all the time and spend a minute or two talking to Leo. He gets shy and tries to hide behind me or Kyle. For the most part people are really friendly here. I know there is so much more of this country than just Lisbon. I’m excited to spend the next week in Lisbon and then getting to see more of the country.

Lisbon

Today has been our best day so far. We decided that our top priority today was to get a second stroller. We have been out so much that one stroller won’t cut it. We found a store that is a 21 minute walk and we set out. It took way longer than 21 minutes because Sofia had to walk and she is exhausted. She doesn’t seem to have caught up on sleep yet. The walk took us through some beautiful areas. It’s amazing how gorgeous this city is where ever you walk. We still haven’t been to the parts of Lisbon that are on postcards and in videos, but so much of this city is really stunning. My pictures never do it justice.

We passed a park and it was similar to the one by our house in the sense that it has a playground, fountain/bird bath, and a coffee kiosk. We let the kids play for a while. We met a woman from Nepal who has been here for two years. It was nice getting to meet someone else who isn’t from here.

We made it back to the apartment in time to get the kids a nap. I went to IKEA while they slept to check it out. It was huge. There were a few things I couldn’t find, so when I got home we set out to find them.

I’m in some Facebook expat groups and some have talked about El Corte Ingles. The way it sounded to me was that it’s a somewhat expensive store where Americans can find some things that they might not be able to find other places. Well, what we got was pure insanity. I’m not even sure it’s a store…it has 7 floors, but then also has negative floors. It’s like a massive department store, but with restaurants, a grocery store, and a movie theater. We weren’t at all prepared for everything that store (ginormous megaplex) has to offer. I did finally find some coffee filters and sugar at their grocery store. I haven’t been able to make coffee at home yet, but I think I finally can tomorrow.

On the way home we decided to try one of the nearby restaurants. The food was amazing. The kids were pretty well behaved considering they had been in their strollers for a few hours. I have noticed that Portuguese kids seem to be well behaved while ours run around screaming, yelling, and banging on stuff. Everyone here is very nice to them though, and Sofia and Leo get tons of attention. They really do love kids here.

Today was better because we’re starting to adjust our expectations. We can’t have a to-do list and expect to make a ton of progress in one day. Today it took us about 4 hours to get a stroller. But we had fun doing it. We went on a beautiful walk, had fun at a park we had never seen, had some coffee, stopped for a snack. It made us realize that if we can accomplish one or two goals a day then we’re doing good.

First two days in Portugal

Today is our second day in Portugal, but our first full day. And our first day with sleep. Kyle and I didn’t sleep at all on the plane, so yesterday was especially rough. Today felt a lot better. I can see why people fall in love with Lisbon, and we haven’t even done anything fun yet. Almost everything we have done has been errands. Tomorrow we have another day of errands, but one of these days we will go check out some of the touristy places and see some of the places I see in pictures. Yesterday was definitely overwhelming- first with trying to get all of our stuff and our kids through the airport. Kyle went back to the airport yesterday to pick up Bailey. We expected it to be hard, but it was so much more ridiculous than either of us ever anticipated. in the end he did get Bailey though. Bailey seemed much less traumatized than I expected. I know that’s a great thing, I just didn’t expect him to be so normal so quickly. He’s already adjusting to life in Portugal and he seems to enjoy it. We have a garden at our rental unit and we just leave the door open, so he can go outside whenever he wants. Kyle took him for three long walks today, which Bailey seemed to love.

There is a gorgeous park near our rental. I don’t know the name of the park, but I love it and will miss it when we leave. It’s only about a three minute walk from here. There is a small playground, a fountain where pigeons bathe themselves, and a coffee kiosk. There are always people sitting at the tables, talking and drinking espressos. The pictures I took of the park don’t do it justice.

As part of our D7 visa process we had to open and fund a Portuguese bank account. We received the cards back in the US and I activated them through the app. When we got here they didn’t work. We tried using them at the multibanco machine, but that didn’t work either. We tried a different pin number and were able to get Kyle’s card to work, but the multibanco machine ate my card and spit out a message saying that the wrong pin was entered 3 times. So I guess if you put the wrong pin in too many times it just eats the card without warning. Good to know. Luckily I was able to go onto the app and deactivate my card. I already needed to go to the bank to change our address, so I guess now I’ll just have them send a new card. Until then we’ll just use Kyle’s card and I’ll use cash. I’m scared to put any more cards into the multibanco though, lol.

Exploring Lisboa

We went to a mall today called Amoreiras Shopping Center. We tried our fist pastel de nata there. I don’t like custard, so I expected not to like it much, but I actually really liked it. And it was just from a random bakery in the mall. I can’t wait to try one from Pasteis de Belem.

We did a lot of walking today and I love it. There are so many reasons we moved to Portugal, but one of them was to be forced to be healthier. I think that I’ll eat healthier here and I will definitely get a lot more exercise. The kids are also getting way more exercise. You might assume that they would sleep better, but they are currently in their room playing and running around, even though they are exhausted and had a few meltdowns today from being so tired. I know there are so many huge changes going on though. In a few weeks things will settle down. And then we will be moving again, lol. In a few weeks we will be staying in Sintra, which I’m really excited about. I like Lisbon a lot so far, but it’s so massive. Big cities already make me feel kind of overwhelmed, and moving to another country makes me feel a lot overwhelmed, so the two of those things together is pretty intense. I think Sintra will feel more manageable.

I feel a lot better with everything that we accomplish. Since we got Kyle’s bank card working at least we will have access to our money. We also made it to the grocery store today and got some basics, like toilet paper, fruit, and laundry detergent. I figured out how to do a load of laundry. I cooked a quesadilla for Leo, and then it took us literally 20+ minutes to figure out how to turn the stove off. It’s not like one we have ever seen before. I expect the first few weeks living here to be all about relearning things. We knew how to do laundry, cook, and buy stuff in the US, but now we have to learn how to do those things here. It’s really overwhelming at first, but once we learn something then we don’t have to learn again and everything gets easier and less overwhelming.

I do understand why people dream about moving abroad but don’t do it. It’s scary. And very overwhelming. I don’t regret it at all though. Like I said, we haven’t even gotten to do much fun stuff yet and I already love it here. I came to Lisbon knowing that big city life is not for me, and I still love it here. I’m excited to see Sintra, and I’m excited to see Coimbra. I do think Coimbra will be a good fit. Right now I want to live in a medium sized city that we can really get to know. I also want to find some pedestrian only places so the kids can have more freedom. I’m also excited to get to explore Lisbon more. Even though we won’t live here, this is somewhere that we will visit over and over again.

Today’s the day

We’re finally feeling excited, but today has been stressful too. It was nice not to have to drive today, but there was still a ton to do.

Kyle dropped Bailey off at the airport for his flight. It’s sad seeing him go and we hate putting him on a plane by himself, but we really don’t know how else to do it. He weighs 80 pounds so there really aren’t many options. I’ve been trying to convince myself (and Kyle) that it’s only one day of his life and that tons of other dogs make the move and they’re fine. I’ll feel a lot better when we see him tomorrow though. And I still feel awful because I know he will be scared on the plane.

We had to drop off the Uhaul and rental car. I picked Kyle up from Uhaul and then took an Uber back to the hotel after I dropped of the car. Then we had to split up and take two Ubers to the airport. It was a lot, but we made it work. We have two toddlers, two strollers, two car seats, seven boxes, two backpacks, and two suitcases. Whew!

In between all the ubers we made some time for a little fun. We were planning on going to the zoo, but according to our GPS the 23 mile ride would take an hour, so we tried to find a playground instead. When we got there is was roped off, so we eventually found an outdoor shopping center and walked around and got some ice cream.

I’m writing this last part from the plane. We’re about an hour into our flight. We are exhausted but so excited to be in this flight. I feel really grateful that everything came together as we needed it to. Bailey’s flight left hours ago- actually he will be landing in a few hours. Hopefully he’s doing okay. We are all exhausted but happy. Both kids are sleeping, which is exactly as we had hoped for.

Well, we’re off to start our new life! This still feels so surreal. I wonder when it will feel real.

On the road

What a day! What a week! We just settled into our AirBnb for the night in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am so glad to be on the road and on our way to Portugal. It still doesn’t seem real. We haven’t had a lot of time to really process it because we have been so busy. This week has really been a rollercoaster of emotions and we haven’t been this stressed out in quite a while.

Ready to hit the road

It was kind of hard leaving the house for the last time today. We only lived there for 2 years but so much has happened in that time. When we first walked into that house I was pregnant with Leo. We had one kid, one on the way, two dogs, and a cat. And we were so innocently blissful because the pandemic had not hit yet. The last two years have been hard- for everyone, I know, not just us. Raina and our cat were put to sleep by a vet in our living room. My last memories of them are in a room that I will never go back to. It kind of felt like I was leaving my pets behind and that makes me very sad.

The things that have gone good this week- we sold both of our vehicles to Carvana and it was the easiest part of the week. I’m so glad we were able to do that because we were really counting on the money from the sale of our cars. We got our rental car and the Uhaul. The SUV we sold was pretty comfortable and we miss it, but I also really like the one we rented, so that’s good. It has a third row seat, so Bailey has been riding back there and is way more comfortable, and safer, than he would be in the Uhaul.

Our pallets are on their way

The bad things this week- well, the vet messed up our USDA paperwork three times. We were pretty sure that it wasn’t going to come in time, but somehow it did. We’re still pretty shocked and obviously extremely relieved. Our pallets were supposed to be picked up Wednesday, but no one called or showed up. That caused some stress for a while, but they did get picked up, so all is well.

Today as we were leaving the house the Uhaul got hit by a tree branch and broke a mirror clean off. There is a road by our old house in Greenville with shrubs that don’t get trimmed all that well. Normally it’s not a big deal, but since the Uhaul mirrors stick out it turned out to be bigger deal today. We duct taped it on and made it here, but it’s not safe and we’re not sure what to do from here. We have to call Uhaul tomorrow to see if they can exchange it for one with a mirror, or what they suggest.

Stress with a side of stress

Today starts the week I’ve been dreading. I know I’m supposed to be excited. I am, but I’m also annoyingly anxious. Bailey has his vet appointment this afternoon. When I made the appointment I hadn’t known that today is a federal holiday, so the USDA office isn’t open. Hopefully the paperwork will be waiting in some queue tomorrow and they will just stamp it and mail it out within a day or two. Everywhere says that it takes 2-4 business days, but most people who have moved recently said it was mailed out within 48 hours. We leave on Saturday, so we have to have it by Friday. We really should get it in time, but it’s that small chance that we don’t that is causing me so much anxiety.

There’s also the fact that Fedex just lost our package. Fedex will be delivering our USDA certificate- it’s going to be mailed to us overnight. This past Saturday I got a text that a package I was expecting was delivered. It was nowhere to be found. I called Fedex and they opened an investigation, but it has definitely shaken my confidence in them getting us our USDA certificate on time. Or at all. Anyway, I really hope that in 3-4 days the certificate arrives and all of this anxiety will have been for nothing.

Even the kids are exhausted

We have a ton going on this week. No more free days. Like I said, today is Bailey’s vet appointment. Tomorrow we are selling our SUV. We’re using Carvana. I just went online, got a quote, uploaded a few things, and got to schedule when they will come to our house to pick it up. That was really nice. It would have been really hard to try to sell it privately since I have never done that and we need really specific dates to have them picked up. A lot of our planned money is coming from the sale of our vehicles, so it’s nice to have that 100% done this week. Wednesday is when our pallets are getting picked up. Thursday we pick up our rental car. Friday we sell the truck (also to Carvana). Saturday we leave. And every day we pack, donate things, and throw things away. We did completely finish one of our pallets. Tomorrow we’ll finish the other.

I know this entry is kind of whiney, and I thought about not including it, but the stress and anxiety are definitely a part of moving internationally, so I figured I should have an entry about how stressful it can be. At this point so much is out of our control. I have moved tons of times in my life, but never with two toddlers. Actually the most stressful part of all of this is moving our dog. None of us are sleeping that well, and we’re all a bit grumpier than usual.

Kyle’s driving certificate came last week. We sent his stuff in literally just one day after sending in mine, but his certificate showed up weeks after mine did. I think I have everything I need for the Driver’s License exchange, but if I don’t it’s kind of too late now. No matter what, we’re leaving SC on Saturday and we’re driving to DC. DC is an 8 hour drive and we’re going to break it up into two 4ish hour days. We will be in DC all day Monday and our flight doesn’t leave until almost 10PM. We have some things to do that day but we should have some time to go to a playground so the kids can burn off some energy before our 7.5 hour flight. The change of scenery will be nice.

I don’t really know the purpose of this entry, lol. Just kind of a venting/airing my anxiety post I guess. Hopefully in a few months I will look back at this post and laugh at all of the unnecessary stress that I caused myself. And then I’ll walk out of our apartment and walk to the cafe to get some coffee and sit and relax in the sun, grateful that we finally made it to Portugal.

Last day of work

When we first got back from Oregon it seemed like time was at a standstill, but the last few weeks have flown by and now it’s suddenly my last day of work. I have been wanting to quit my job and spend more time with the kids, but now that it’s actually here I’m feeling all kinds of things that I didn’t really expect. I really like my coworkers and have come to realize that they’re definitely a support system that I appreciate and rely on. I’m going to miss talking to them. Even if we do keep in touch, it’s not going to be the same. So I’m definitely sad, but also excited. Now our move is just about two weeks away.

Playing pallet Tetris

We have been getting a lot done, though there is still so much that needs to get done. It will be really helpful not working the next two weeks so that I can get more done. Our pallets came, so we have been busy building those. The pallets were 1″ shorter in length and width than we expected, which has actually turned out to be a big deal. We had boxes that would have fit perfectly, but now they don’t, so we’ve been trying to order more boxes to make everything as uniform as possible. If this turns out to be our biggest problem that would be great!

We hired a pet shipping company, Dog Gone Taxi, and they booked Bailey’s flight. We booked our flight, which will leave 4 hours after Bailey’s flight. There was a small hiccup because the website wouldn’t let us buy a seat for Leo, so he’s technically going to be a lap baby. I tried to get him a seat, but it just got too frustrating and I had to give up. I’m still going to bring his carseat and ask them if there is an available seat. I’ve been watching our flight and it’s definitely not fully booked. If there isn’t a seat then I will gate check his carseat an just deal with it. By the time we walk onto the plane we will be so relieved and excited that nothing else will really matter.

Sofia is ready to go!

Our landlord did end up selling the house. Luckily it sold very quickly, because we were getting pretty frustrated. For a few days it took over our lives between the showings, and all the text messages and phone calls. The new buyers were hoping to move in sooner, so our landlord agreed to prorate our rent if we could move out before our lease ends. That’s exactly what we were hoping for, so it’s a win for everyone! It will be especially helpful because hotels in DC are expensive.

Everything is booked. Now all we do is pack and hope that it all works out. I’m still pretty stressed out about Bailey and the USDA certificate, but I think it will be just fine and I am probably stressed out for nothing. Even so, there is really nothing that I can do about it. It will work out somehow. And in just over two weeks we will be moving to Portugal! I know that, but I think it hasn’t really set in because there is still so much that we need to do between now and then.

I got my driving certificate to exchange my driver’s license in Portugal. We sent Kyle’s the day after mine was sent, but no sign of his yet. Hopefully it will show up. We got a mail forwarding address with physicalmailbox.com. They will receive our US mail and scan and upload it for us. They can also ship it to us in Portugal when we request it. I got a virtual phone number with TextNow. It costs $5 per year and it gives me a US phone number so I can still send and receive texts from US numbers. That will make it easier to stay in touch with family and receive text verification codes. I have been researching all of this for years, and it feels so surreal to be implementing it all now.

Less than 6 weeks to go

I gave my notice at work tonight. My last day of work will be Friday, October 1 and moving day is hopefully going to be Monday, October 18. Less than six weeks until we leave. Putting in my notice has made it more real and also kind of scary. I’ve been at that job for 4 years and it’s a good job. It’s really because of my job that I was able to have my two kids and now move to Portugal. A little part of me wonders if I did the right thing, but I know that’s just the fear talking. Of course getting to spend more time with my kids will be the right move. But still, it’s scary to lose my main income source.

Since being home we’ve gotten a ton of things done, though there is so much more to do. Now that we’ve started, I realize how many moving parts there are. Hopefully everything will line up as it’s supposed to on moving day. We decided to hire a pet shipper after all to help us with Bailey. We tried calling Lufthansa a few times to book his flight, but the system said that it’s too busy and to call back later. And then it disconnected. We can’t even talk to someone to book his flight, so we decided that we need some help. We just got his crate today, so tomorrow I’ll put it together and start crate training him again. He used to be trained, but it has been years since he has been in one.

Bailey

I emailed the Portuguese consulate in DC to find out how to get the letter I need to exchange my driver’s license. The form is called the certificate of authentication of driving license. They said that I needed to send a notarized copy of my driver’s license, a money order, and a self address and stamped envelope. I sent those out yesterday. Hopefully that part is as easy as it seems!

I booked an apartment in Lisbon for October. We thought that it would be fun to stay right in the city, especially since we’re moving from a smaller town. We’ve been watching some YouTube videos called 3 minute Portuguese and they are really helpful. I actually know a few words now, lol. We also put a deposit down with upakweship, and we’ll schedule a pickup soon. We’re shipping over a few pallets of our things. We thought it would be worth it to have some familiar things, especially for the kids. This is already such a huge move and we’re getting rid of so much. They will love seeing some of their favorite toys in Portugal.

Our landlord is selling the house and we have our first showing scheduled tomorrow. We’re really not looking forward to having a bunch of strangers roaming through our house. One of the requirements to enter into Portugal is a negative COVID test. Even though Kyle and I are vaccinated, we still want to avoid COVID and are being really careful until we leave, so it’s frustrating that we’re going to be exposed to so many people in our own home. Luckily Sofia and Leo won’t need a test, but obviously we don’t want to expose them either.

Kyle and I are both feeling anxious, but also excited. I know it’s normal to feel some anxiety right now. This is such a huge move and there is so much to keep track of. I have a huge to do list in my phone. It helps me to have it all written down somewhere. Now that I’ve put my notice in at work I’m definitely feeling more anxiety because we’re leaving what we know. Yeah, I have moved around a lot, but always in the US. I’ve never lived abroad. I’ve never even been to Portugal. I am still 100% sure it’s the right decision for our family, but I also get why some people don’t end up making the move. It’s definitely nerve wracking. But in 6 weeks our nerves will be calmed because we will be there!

Back in the Southern US

Well, we made it back to South Carolina two days ago. Whew, this humidity! I somehow forgot how humid it gets. It was nice getting to spend two weeks in the way cooler air of the Pacific Northwest. The flight home was so much better. Our first flight landed on time, so we had an hour and a half layover in Dallas. It still felt kind of cut short, but we had time to eat and stretch our legs a bit. We have all been pretty exhausted since we got home.

I go back to work today, in two hours. It will be fine. I’m feeling kind of sad though. I always feel kind of sad when vacation is over. It has been so nice getting to spend the past two weeks with my kids. I’ll miss getting to spend so much time with them. I really miss my parents too. Sofia has been asking to see them a lot today. She misses them too. Since having kids it has gotten so hard saying bye to my parents. It’s so nice spending time with them and the distance between us is hard. And it’s about to get way bigger.

On the plus side, we will be moving to Portugal soon. I still haven’t picked the exact date, but we’re really close to deciding. We got our passports back and my SEF appointment is December 20 in Setubal. Kyle, Sofia, and Leo have their appointments on December 21, also in Setubal. For that appointment the biggest thing we need is a lease. Originally we planned to find something to start January 1, 2022 but now it’s looking like we will aim for a start date of December. The travel date we listed on our D7 visa was October 13, and that might be the actual date we enter Portugal, or we might do a week later.

Kyle has already started selling some of our stuff. I’ve been going through the kid’s clothes to either sell or donate them. I still have all of their clothes, back to when they were both newborns. We have so much to do and not a ton of time to get it all done, but we should be fine. We’ve known this was coming and I began packing some things a few months ago. Now that we know that we’re actually going soon it’s time to get moving.

I still have to figure out my last day of work. I think that I might just stay for a while longer, and have my last day be 10 days prior to our move. That last paycheck will be helpful, and having our insurance for as long as possible means we won’t have to spend a ton on short term health insurance. We still have some decisions to make, but that’s the fun and easy part. We tried calling Lufthansa today to book Bailey’s flight, but after being on hold for a while we were told by a machine to leave a message. I definitely have some anxiety about Bailey’s travel- booking his flight will be a huge piece. Once we book his flight I will book ours and make the last decisions that I need to make.

Our visa have been approved!

I got the email this morning that our visas have been approved. We are so excited! I was really hoping to find out while we were on vacation and we did. I even brought our passports with us, just in case. We are going to mail them to DC to get our visas put in them.

There is still so much that we need to get done, but just knowing that we are moving to Portugal will make it all worth it. The biggest things are to finish what we need for the driver’s license exchange, and get Bailey ready to go. I requested our driving records from SC and FL, so those should be coming pretty soon. I think that from there I need to mail something to VFS DC to have them sign. I still need to figure that out some more. Bailey will probably be the most stressful part, but tons of people have moved pets with them, and we only have to do it once. We will probably just do it ourselves, but are still looking at the possibility of using a pet relocation service. They are so expensive though, and we will still have to do the majority of the work. I think that if we were able to get the visas on our own, we should be able to do this on our own too.

Eugene, OR

I’m still not sure of our move date. Once we get our visas back, we will know the date of our appointment in Portugal. We will need to find a lease before that appointment. I’m really hoping our appointment is not until January, but we’ll see. So far we have an AirBnb rental for the month of November, and we will figure things out from there. The rental is in Sintra, and I was really hoping to get to stay there. It is in walking distance to a bunch of stuff. Since walking is a major priority of mine in this new life, I think it’s fitting that our first place will be around so much stuff.

We are going to enjoy the rest of our vacation and then get back to work when we get home. Less than 2 months until the move! Woo-hoo!!