On to Sintra

Today we leave Lisbon and head for Sintra. We are ready. We have loved Lisbon and we will always have fond memories, but it has become exhausting. We have mostly been stuck at home the past three days due to rain, so we have been going a bit stir crazy. We feel really lucky that we got so many beautiful days when we first got here. We have figured out that the quickest way from our rental to the metro is down a big hill. Going down isn’t so bad of course, but the thought of climbing up that hill one more time makes us want to cry.

We’ve been having some bad luck with the metro lately too. At least half the time we take it there either isn’t an elevator, or the elevator is broken. That means a lot of carrying strollers and kids up and down stairs. The metro has served us well, but we are ready for a break. We love Lisbon, but we are not big city people and we’re ready for somewhere smaller and hopefully better suited for toddlers who want freedom.

A few days ago we took a trolley up a steep hill to a gorgeous view. I think the trolley is called Elevador da Gloria. The view from the top is the most beautiful we have seen. We found a playground and stopped at the botanical gardens and natural history museum on the way home.

On Saturday we were supposed to have a 4 hour break from the rain, so we decided to take the train to Cascais. We made it to the train station 10 minutes before the 10:00 train was scheduled to leave and we settled in for the 40 minute ride. Unfortunately 30 minutes later an announcement was made in Portuguese and everyone got off the train. The plus side is that we met a great couple from Florida (hi if you’re reading this! 😊) who told us that there was a problem with the train and the next one would come at 11. Unfortunately the one at 11 was cancelled, so at that point we just decided to do something else. The kids had been in their strollers for two hours and we were all ready to walk around.

Time Out

Time Out Market was right there, so we went to check it out. We knew it was essentially a big tourist trap, but I always think that touristy things are worth doing at least once. It was expensive, and really hard to find a place to sit and eat, but the food wasn’t bad and it was interesting waking around seeing what they have to offer. Now we have it out of our system and it’s not somewhere that we would go back to. I would have preferred Cascais, but at least we were able to do something with our short break from the rain. It started raining again, so we headed back to our rental.

We have started looking for a long term rental. I have researched quite a few places this past year- Braga, Porto, Coimbra, Setubal, Sintra, and a few others. I think we could be happy living in any of those places, but we have never quite been able to narrow it down. I’m very drawn to Braga for its beauty, walkability, and pedestrian only area, but the weather makes me nervous and it seems so far from all the other places I want to check out. I happened upon a website that mentioned Leiria and I started looking into it.

As soon as Kyle saw a YouTube video he said it felt like home and he wants to go there. So that’s where we’re looking for an apartment. Everyone we have talked to has said that Leiria is great for families, and right now whatever we can do to make life easier with two toddlers is a win. I think I could be happy for the next year or two pretty much anywhere in Portugal as long as there are some playgrounds and we can walk everywhere. I have zero interest in getting a car anytime soon. Our rental in Sintra is paid for through November, so hopefully our next move will be into a long term rental in Leiria. Until then, we are excited to see what Sintra is like. Like I said, we love Lisbon but it’s all that we know of Portugal so far. I’m excited to see some other parts of this country.

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.


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!