The House Hunting Continues

We’re closing in on it! We don’t want to jinx anything by saying something too soon, but suffice it to say we definitely can see ourselves living someplace in Portugal, and we think the final choice will happen soon.

So far, everything has gone according to plan. We always have backup plans and backup plans for the backup plans, and plans to make backup plans for the backup plans for… well, you get the idea. But so far, we haven’t had to back up anywhere. Except into the street from the street-side parking at the Airbnb apartment we’re staying at, where you have to back up into the street without being able to see whoever might be coming. You grit your teeth, and back up slowly, hoping you won’t hear a blaring honk followed by a loud crunch. So far, so good.

Today we ended up back in Sesimbra (detecting a theme here?). Mostly these are pictures of some of what we have experienced during the last couple of days. Yay! Limited writing for the reading impaired!

img_3654This is outside the main train station in Lisbon. I keep wondering why these elaborate statues are never erected on new buildings, in the U.S., for instance. They’re very cool, and I would have to think easier to make today than whenever they were crafted before. Of course, maybe I shouldn’t be giving Trump any ideas.

img_3653This is the view from our current apartment. The blue skies finally gave way to some January rain, which was needed. So we don’t mind, as long as it doesn’t last for too long. We brought just enough of Oregon along with us already, thank you.

This is a rooftop pool on top of a condo building with a view toward the hills in Sesimbra. We’ve decided the apartment/condo life isn’t for us, but we still had some of these properties on the appointment list. They’re nice, and feature awesome views, but it’s just not a lifestyle either of us have ever practiced, just like Buddhism or Plushophilia.

More views from the Sesimbra condos. We were sorely tempted because I don’t think we’d ever get tired of the views, but a house is the home for us.


Carolyn walking through one of the condos.

img_3674Here’s another set of condos outside the downtown/cliff area of Sesimbra. They’re new, and look nice, with a great view toward Lisbon. We got a kick out of our Portuguese real estate agent, who is a real sweetheart but whose English is at about 90%. She kept calling these places “condoms.” As a result, we preferred looking at new ones.

We stopped for lunch at a fresh fish restaurant. Caught right off the pier across the street. Portuguese cuisine is really growing on us (and might just make us grow horizontally as well), although I like fish better than Carolyn.


Carolyn demands action from our “transition helper” (I’m not sure what title she would pick, but that’s what she’s doing for us). Her name is Erika and she has been invaluable with helping us navigate the move. While she’s only spent a few weeks of her life traveling in the U.S., her English is near-perfect, and her understanding of our idioms and cultural stuff is spot on. She even gets all of my bad jokes!

This is a view of three directions while standing in the same place in downtown Sesimbra.


About five or ten minutes from one house we really like stands this lighthouse, and beyond it, the Atlantic ocean.  We’re jazzed about the idea of living just minutes from some awesome beaches while still only being about 45 minutes away from an international airport!


This is Cabo Espichel, which is right near the lighthouse. We didn’t go over there because it was raining too hard and, well, we plan on living near here so we’d rather go over during a sunny day. It was still worth a shot from under the umbrella.

Also nearby are some dinosaur fossil tracks. We didn’t get out to see them due to the rain, but I’ll be jazzed to take a look. It is said that local superstition interpreted the trackways as the path taken by the Virgin Mary when riding a giant mule from the ocean and up the cliffs, which led to the eventual construction of a convent there. A giant mule, huh? And what what she doing in Portugal? People are so funny…


Ain’t no giant mule here. Maybe an ass or something, but no mule.

We stopped at a store in Sesimbra. Prices are even better than in Lisbon. That’s 19 cents (100 cents make a Euro, which is close enough to even to a dollar that we just figure it’s about the same) for a container of salt. And those 79 cent price tags? For wine. Okay, it’s boxed wine, but the bottled versions can be had for less than a euro more.

I’d typpue somme tmore but thatt winne is prettyy gud!  %lk





Road trip to Setúbal

This week was mostly spent looking at a variety of homes. After looking at a lot of apartment-type places, we’ve pretty much decided to invoke our American nuclear option and hunt harder for actual houses (or perhaps townhouses) instead. I guess I’m not ready to live in a place where one wrong leap means instant death. house-hunting-meme

We have already seen some we could definitely live in, but there are always more to see. What’s also true is that a lot of them are sold before we even get a chance to see them; the market is pretty robust over here. Anyway, house hunting marches on at least through next week. We’re hoping it won’t be much longer than that. We’re not tired of the hunting yet, but obviously we’d love to find our dream love nest and keep moving forward with all this.

We also had to meet with our attorney and apply for our NIF (pronounced “neef”), which is the tax ID we need to do just about anything non-touristy in Portugal. We should have that in a few days.

Portuguese realtors don’t have some of the advantages of their US counterparts. They employ no lockboxes, have no single source (like the MLS) for all properties, they have no open houses, every visit needs to be scheduled with the appropriate realtor, and not much happens on weekends. Our poor realtor has to work a lot harder than they do in the US, at least when looking for houses to buy. She already has pages and pages of contacts and crossed out meetings filling her book just because of us. It’s not an easy job.

So, with the weekend upon us we thought we’d go visit the São Jorge Castle, whichsa%cc%83o-jorge-castle is one of Lisbon’s top attractions. As we drove toward it, I looked at Carolyn and said, “Do we really want to go visit a castle that has a great view on such a cloudy day?” It’s been a little difficult to adjust to the fact that we’re sightseeing in a place where we’re going to live. Usually we’re all like, “Let’s go see this, and that, and hurry up! We might have to leave before we can see it!” But we’re retired and living here. We can slow the hell down!

And so we agreed that we could pick any one of the 300 days of the year the sun shines in Lisbon instead of this day’s cloudy offering to see the castle. We decided to just keep driving and head down once again to Sesimbra, where we’re also going on Monday to look at a bunch of homes. We’re very attracted to the area, and so thought it worth some additional scouting about.

But first, here are two images taken within Lisbon. If I don’t throw those on here now, we’ll forget all about them and you’ll never see them again. And then you’ll be like all mad and everything because there was one fewer bridge and statue picture than you felt you deserved for all the money you’ve paid to read this. So get off our back.

img_4178Since we already bored you with some Sisembra pictures on a recent post below, we’ll only add one more that we took while four-wheeling it up into the mountains. Here, you get greenery, the beautiful buildings of Sesimbra, and the ocean, all in one shot. They truly have some breathtaking vistas almost everywhere you go.

Once we conquered that territory again, we decided to drive over to Setúbal, which is a city about 40 minutes to the east of Sesimbra. Setúbal used to be a big part of Portugal’s fishing industry, particularly with sardines. Unfortunately, they decided the things were too damn small to mess with, and besides, most people in the world finally figured out they just plain taste bad, so they closed all those factories. However, the port remains vibrant with import/export and other maritime activities.

It was a little more industrial than anything we’ve seen so far, but we took some pictures because, in the end, everything in another country is a little bit interesting, isn’t it?

This is their seawall next to the Atlantic ocean. This holdout is still fishing for sardines. Truth be told, despite all the coastline, this is actually the first fisherman we’ve seen since we got here.
This isn’t a sardine.
Remote views of most Portuguese housing is usually quite beautiful, mostly due to their brown tile roofs. It’s only when you get closer that you see they’re often a bit more rundown than it appears from a distance. But the city views are always very striking.
The Portuguese sometimes employ a little more humor with their toilet signs than in the US. We’ve seen others with different humor themes, but it doesn’t always feel appropriate to be snapping pictures of bathroom doors. This one was okay because no one was looking.
We had to stop for the obligatory gelato, but it had been over 24 hours since the last one so I had to use two spoons to get it all in fast enough.
Carolyn doesn’t do all that well with fish unless they’ve been turned into fish sticks.
The bay in Setubal. Pretty much every kind of boat and condition of boat possible.
This is what happened when I asked Carolyn if she’d want to live here. Seriously, though, it’s not a bad little town, and has its share of tourism. Just too far off the beaten path, and a little too industrial, for us to consider.
Setubalian housing. Carolyn made sure to put a railing in front so viewers wouldn’t fall into the picture.
Again, every where we go, we end up seeing some beautiful views. But also again, safety first with the railing!
Where’s Kevin-o?
Portuguese don’t often have clothes dryers. Most of the homes we’ve looked at have washers but no dryers. It’s nothing for them to hang their laundry, even if it includes women’s unmentionables in the tourist area right next to a restaurant.
If these buildings could talk, they’d have a lot of tiles to tell.
Who needs window shades when you always have laundry hanging out?

It was a good day of traveling and sightseeing and just getting to know the whole area better. Thank God for the iPhone, because it means we can just drive and get lost and use the GPS to find our way home whenever we want. However, Portuguese road signs and our ever-growing knowledge of the area allowed us to conduct the entire day’s trip without having to use the GPS at all!




Shootout in Portugal witnessed by the Andersons!

It was another calm and sunny day in Portugal. We decided to explore some more of the Lisbon area. Slowly but surely, we’re gaining a better feelimg_3563 for the lay of the land. As we drove around, essentially getting intentionally lost knowing that our GPS could always get us home. Although it turns out we didn’t even need it at all despite the fact that we were out driving around all day while covering quite a bit of geography. It is, ironically, easier to drive in Portugal than in Ireland, despite the language barrier.

We ended up at a place called Cabo da Roca. (Which translates literally to: “Don’t drive your taxi over my Almond Roca.”) Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of all of Europe (and all of Eurasia for that matter).

It’s a nice place for tourists to hang out to see the ocean and some of the beautiful cliffs. Unfortunately, that also means it’s a great place for pickpockets.

Carolyn overheard a tour guide telling her group to be wary of pickpockets. For some reason, Europe seems to have more pickpockets than the U.S. Maybe if they could buy guns just like in the states they could just start shooting everyone instead, which would reduce the number of pickpockets by turning them into serious felons just like ours. Anyway, shortly after hearing that, we heard a commotion not very far from us and saw a cop, gun drawn, corralling two scofflaws. I gotta tell ya, the Portuguese cops don’t pull any punches. The crooks had no discernible weapons, but that didn’t stop him from getting very serious with his pistol. As he led them away, he also pulled out his collapsible billy club and kept lifting it above his head, ready to beat them silly should they give him any guff.


I only took one picture because as soon after I snapped this one, the cop began looking around the crowd with something less than a happy face, and you know, when you see a gun, you really don’t want to irritate the gun holder in any way.

So that added a bit of fun to what was otherwise a picturesque view of the furthest west we can get on this mainland. While standing on land anyway.

And yeah, okay, the headline is slightly misleading because there wasn’t any actual shooting. I was channeling either the dishonest liberal media or a Trump tweet; pick one depending on which side of the aisle you’re on.


These cliffs and views reminded us a bit of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, which, if you scroll down continuously for about 12 minutes, you’ll see in a previous blog post. The Cliffs of Moher were more impressive, but they definitely featured a lot less gunplay than Portugal’s version.

Sightseeing in Sesimbra

Last year, our visit to Portugal was specifically intended to help us figure out if we would want to move to Portugal, so we didn’t do much sightseeing. We checked out prices at the grocery and other stores, wandered throughout Lisbon just to get a vibe of the place, visited Cascais as a possible nesting place, and hired a couple of people to help us with the move.

Since it doesn’t appear that they do as much house shopping on the weekends as we do in the US (and apparently they don’t do open houses at all), during our house-hunting phase we will experience what it’s like to do something different on a weekend again. One of the main things we’ve learned about being retired is that you often have no idea what day it is, nor is there any reason to care. Now we’ll have to a little bit.

screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-1-02-37-pmYou’ve probably never heard of Sesimbra (pronounced SezzEEmbra, with a rolling ‘r’). It’s a seaside town of about 50,000 people, certainly a lot more than that on weekends or during the holidays or summer. It’s a popular destination for many Lisbions (okay, I know that’s not the official word, but I like it) as a holiday spot. It’s only about 30 minutes south of Lisbon, although it doesn’t look that way on a map. But in fact, Cascais is also 30 minutes away from the center of Lisbon; it just doesn’t seem as far away as Sesimbra because the metropolis sprawls from Lisbon through and past Cascais without interruption.

To get to Sesimbra, you have to go over the 27th largest suspension bridge in the world, called Ponte 25 de Abril, or the 25th of April Bridge. We’ve noticed that the Portuguese name their streets not only after a lot of people, but also they use dates. The 25th of April moniker commemorates the Carnation Revolution, which is very similar to the War of the Roses. Or maybe it was just over spilt milk. Okay, it really was when a military coup overthrew the regime of Estado Novo, which was a fascist regime described in Wikipedia as: Opposed to communism, socialism, anarchism, liberalism and anti-colonialism, the regime was corporatist, conservative, and nationalist in nature… If that sounds in any way familiar to some of today’s politics, congratulations, you’re paying attention!

Anyway, standing guard over the bridge is a Christ the King statue, which was modeled after the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

img_3513After a 20 minute drive through a sparse forest, you reach the outskirts of Sesimbra. Outside of town and up on the highest point is Castelo de Sesimbra, also known as Castelo dos Mouros. It’s a sleepy little national monument, but it reminded us of all the castles we saw while in Ireland and England last year. We like castles.

Once again, the below pictures illustrate Portugal’s laissez-faire attitude toward safety. The stairs and ledges pictured are open for all to walk upon, but they don’t bother with adding railings or the like. I kind of like that approach; it only helps to thin the herd. Of course, it was only about a 20-foot drop, so maybe it only thins the herd by breaking limbs, making it easier for the lions to catch them. We just need more lions.

There is a small church on the grounds. Inside the church is covered with Portuguese tile, which is beautiful and seems very durable.

A dolphin and a mermaid stand guard at the entrance of the church, one symbolizing the beauty of nature and the other about the importance of keeping abreast of the news. I’m not sure which is which. Although I believe the mermaid’s name was Sesim. Someone hid a piece of her clothing near the beach, which is how the town got its name.

As you might imagine, standing on top of the tallest hill in the area affords some spectacular views. And when it comes to looking at Sesimbra, it can be nothing but spectacular; it’s a beautiful town. It reminded me of the pictures I’ve seen of seaside towns in Greece.


After driving into town and navigating through a labyrinth of narrow one-way streets, we enjoyed a nice stroll along the beachfront. It was a comparatively balmy 60 degrees (vs. the low 40’s in our homeland). The forecast calls for pretty much nothing but 60 degree weather for the next week or two. We can get used to that in January.


The beachfront is bordered by lots of little shops and restaurants. Being the estupido Americans that we are, we ordered hamburgers. However, there wasn’t much in the way of identifiable Portuguese cuisine in their other offerings, and we were hungry, so there you go. But the funny thing was it appears that the Portuguese misunderstood the word hamburger when they came up with their version (although I have to admit it actually makes more sense). They put ham on the burger. Maybe it’s the Americans who took the ham away, although that’s hard to imagine since we’re so good at dumping food on top of food on top of more food. But it may also be because we were told Portuguese beef isn’t the greatest. Indeed, the hamburger meat itself was rather bland. Oh well; Carolyn and I don’t eat much beef anyway.


After walking around town a bit and checking out property values, there’s a chance we could end up landing in Sesimbra. It’s a laid back, friendly town, with spectacular views of the Atlantic almost no matter where you go. This is the view of Morocco from the beach. Okay, you can’t actually see it, but that’s what you’d run into if you started paddling.


We have to research further as to the pros and cons of living in a town that is heavily touristed. It also looks like there are few expats who move here, which is no problem for us. We’d just as soon get cozy with Portuguese people, who thus far have been very friendly and helpful. Our experience is that many Portuguese say they speak very little English when asked, but then when they speak it anyway, they’re completely understandable and reasonably fluent. I like that basic humility about them.

And so, the sun set on an absolutely delightful day, leaving us dreaming of living in a place where we can enjoy this kind of scenery day after day. Not a bad location to retire to, wouldn’t you say?



So begins the house hunt.

Today we began the search for our residence. Our transition helper and her real estate agent took us to about a half dozen properties. The first five were not quite what we were looking for. Since Lisbon is so old, much of the housing reflects that. Any construction prior to, say, 2000, tends to be somewhat cramped and certainly lacking in the amenities we’re used to in the US. Which is fine, we’ll be living in Portugal, which is, as we can tell by the fact that it has a different name, a different country.

The last place we looked at on this first day was closer to what we’re used to: more modern with higher ceilings and wider hallways. On this first go-round, we’re looking at flats or condominiums, which means we’re generally looking at living in a place where one false move can mean instant death. The Portuguese are clearly not as concerned with safety issues as we are in the US. img_3481I’m not a big fan of heights, especially when the railings are below my waist. As I stand next to that kind of railing and look down, I can almost hear the sirens calling from below: “Jump! C’mon, it’ll be interesting! Just climb over the railing and see what it’s like!” Obviously, I’m not going to jump, but it’s disconcerting nonetheless. Our hosts gave me some strange looks as I staggered around the balcony with my hands over my ears, shouting “Shut up! Shut up!”

I rarely get drunk, and certainly not drunk enough to stand by a railing ready to topple over it, but I just can’t get it out of my mind that if I was too drunk and stumbled next to it or bent over too far, or someone pushed me (accidentally or otherwise), that the place in which I live could also be the place of my accidental death. It’s not actually a fear of heights as much as a combination of a fear of falling and a vivid imagination. I can just hear the wind whistling past my ears as the ground rushes up to greet my helpless body. It’s a weird feeling, and nothing I want to live with every day.

One of the places was on about the sixth or eighth or one hundred and tenth (same difference) floor, and even the windows in the kids room (!) opened right up to… air, and a long drop to a permanent sleep. kid-fallingWhen we asked our hosts about it they just shrugged. Portuguese kids are smart enough not to fall out I guess. I’m not sure some American kids are as smart as that. If we bought a house with such a window and our grandkids visited, we’d probably tie a rope around them and affix it to the middle of the home.

Obviously, living in a high rise is something I’m not used to. Chances are, we’ll have to get used to it because housing around Lisbon tends to be mostly high rises. We’re not overly keen on owning a house with a yard, etc. We don’t want to spend much time caring for one, especially if we’re traveling.

The day wasn’t a complete loss, however, because while we didn’t find our personal Shangri-La as yet, we did finally sample some genuine Portuguese cuisine!

While frozen pizza and store bought burritos are clearly universal in their appeal, we are way behind the curve when it comes to eating Portuguese. People who ask us about Portugal seem more curious about the food than anything, and we’ve never had a good answer.

We went to small Portuguese restaurant for lunch, so authentic that the menu was available only in Portuguese. Fortunately, we were with two Portuguese speakers, so we received a thorough translation of all the offerings.

One dish was called “Açorda” (The ç in Portuguese is pronounced like a “z”), which is made from bread and milk and assorted spices, and in our case supplemented with shrimp. It was one of the favorites of our two Portuguese friends. To our pallet, it was slightly bland; it could’ve used a little more flavor. ac%cc%a7ordaIt was plenty tasty to be sure, even if it looked like mushy porridge. I might’ve liked it better with some pork or meatballs or even chopped up hot dogs, but apparently they only put seafood in it: mostly shrimp, but often with no meat at all.

We also ordered a pork dish, which appeared to be about the size of a quarter of a pig. It was huge, but the meat rolled off the bone like pulled pork. Delicioso! We then sampled a variety of desserts, which of course were all great because they were, well, desserts.

So we finally took the lid off Portuguese cuisine, and found it to be very good.

For some reason, this restaurant delivered the bill in a shotgun shell. It wasn’t a threat in regards to tips, however, because you generally don’t tip much, if at all, in Portugal.

We will clearly have no issues with Portuguese food; of course this is based on a total of one restaurant so far. At least from our single sampling, we found that it wasn’t particularly exotic or excessively spicy; they generally seem to offer a good variety of dishes and meats and so on. They also love cheese, which is fine by us.

As to the house hunting, we have to content ourselves with a combination of being eager to get it done, and the patience to find just the right housing. It’s a big city, and property values are on the rise, so it’ll be an interesting dance. We’ll hold out for the perfect place (and price) as long as we can; if that fails, we’ll settle for plan B, or maybe Plan C, which will include a rope for the grandkids.

The Eagles –er, Hummingbirds, Have Landed!

squirrely-hummingbird(I call Carolyn a hummingbird because she’s always flitting about with as much energy as one. If she were an animal, she’d either be a hummingbird or a squirrel.)

Prior to our departure, we were often asked if were excited to be going to Portugal. Both of us had pretty much the same reaction: sure, but we were really just more ready than anything. The lead-up to the flight had us busy for months: selling the house, getting everything in it sold, staying at my sister Lynne’s house (with much, much gratitude for putting up with us for months), seeing and saying goodbye to everyone, packing, canceling things like insurance, and so on and so forth and so on.

But mostly, we felt like we were in limbo: homeless, without roots, waiting for our long flight and new adventure.

They say it feels like time moves ever faster and faster. I dispute that notion: it only moves faster in hindsight. I figure that’s because your memory compresses even a full year into an easy-to-digest matter of seconds. When you’re looking ahead, it crawls just like it did when you were a kid waiting for a trip to Disneyland. To us, it seemed like a long time between retirement and trip, so we were simply ready.

The 9-1/2 hour plane ride from Portland to Amsterdam was uneventful. Neither of us slept much; I ended up watching three movies, Carolyn two. At one point I was finally able to doze off, only to be awoken by a very loud-voiced knucklehead standing in the aisle talking to some babe in the seat across the aisle from me. I almost said something, but in the end decided to throw on my headphones and watch another movie.

After a four hour layover in the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, we boarded the plane for the 2-1/2 hour flight to Lisbon.

Carolyn loves the twinkle lights in the Amsterdam airport!
We tried to catch some z’s while waiting for our plane. But who took the picture with my phone??

I found it interesting that other than going through security in Portland, wace-venturae only had to pass one customs checkpoint, which was in Amsterdam when we switched terminals. He was a very nice guy who only checked our passports. After we landed in Lisbon, we picked up our luggage and walked through the “nothing to declare” door (of course, I had to challenge authority by saying, “I do declare Mr. Beauregard!”) (For you non film buffs, that’s a famous line from both Gone with the Wind and the much higher regarded Ace Ventura).

Anyway, the point is that we didn’t have anyone in Portugal even pretend to inspect our luggage (within our view anyway) or otherwise acknowledge our arrival, and our multiple carry-ons were never even looked at by anyone other than the machine in Portland. Going from Amsterdam to Lisbon was no different than flying from state to state in the US.

They don’t have any “welcome to Portugal” signs, so we had to make due with the shot of a plane.

After exiting the airport, we were delighted to find ourselves in 60 degree weather, especially after the continuous cold snap and snow Portland has been experiencing. We cannot complain about the weather in our new home!

We had rented a small Airbnb flat in Cascais, which is about 30 minutes outside of Lisbon and a prime location for us to buy. 

We got to sleep around 8:00 PM after about 30 hours near-sleeplessness. We decided to make the first day all about getting over jet lag. After a nice long sleep (only bothered a bit by walls that are just too thin for Americans) and a restful day, I think we’ve mostly conquered that, even though traveling from west to east is usually the more difficult transition in regards to jet lag. We woke up about 10:00 AM, reasonably rested, but with few food supplies.

After our visit to Portugal last spring, people often asked us about Portuguese cuisine. To help illustrate our incredible culinary expertise, we can use our first full day in Portugal as a great example. On this first day alone, we have consumed a small frozen pizza, a bag of potato chips, and an apple (we each got half). We might have a banana before we go to bed. So yes, it’s clear that we are able to tout the awesomeness of Portuguese cuisine.

Because the Lisbon area is so hilly, there are many places where you can enjoy a view to die for (literally, if you jump). The first three pictures below are scenes from the rooftop of the building we’re staying in. The next three are the views from our window, which is on the sixth floor. They’re mostly views of Cascais; Lisbon is way off beyond the hills to the left in the very first picture.

I did have to run to our favorite store (so far) in the Lisbon area: Jumbo. It’s a huge Fred Meyer-esque place for all kinds of groceries, home goods, liquor, and electronics, as well as featuring banking, a laundromat, an airplane hangar, a petting zoo, and hula dance lessons. Maybe if we’re lucky we can find an apartment right above it, we’d never want for anything.

No grocery shopping experience is complete without stopping to inhale the aromatic salted cod.

But I immediately remembered what a challenge it can be to buy groceries in a country that doesn’t realize everyone in the world should speak english. I utilized my iPhone frequently to translate all sorts of words. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t buying dog meat instead of ham, for instance. Simply going to a grocery store will help us in our quest to understand Portuguese, although I’ll confess that I don’t remember a damn word I learned while in the store. Repetition will be our friend.

I did try to mutter a few of the phrases we’ve “mastered.” I tried out ”deshkoolpa” a few times (“desculpa” means “excuse me”) after I accidentally ran into people, but I’m certain I spoke so quietly no one even heard me butcher that single word. I spoke quietly because when my memory is put to a stress test, I have a hard time pulling out the word. It’s one reason I’m so bad at remembering names. Sitting here writing, for instance, I can remember just about anyone’s name. But when confronted with an introduction, I barely can remember my wife’s (you know, what’s her face). I almost said “Obrigado” after running my camr-bean-in-francert into someone else, which means “thank you.” “Desculpa” came into my head about two minutes later. Mr. Bean has nothing on me.

I also tried to tell the checkout clerk that I was American (“Eu, uh, es su, ah Americano!”) as I fumbled around with the credit card machine, but I’m pretty sure she inwardly rolled her eyes while thinking, “Well, duh!”

Fortunately, Cascais has a bit of tourism, so the locals there are used to non-Portuguese speakers trying to make their way. When we’re finally fluent in Portuguese in about 2027, our location within the country won’t matter as much. But for the first number of years as we flail about mispronouncing or misusing every word we speak, being around people who are used to being around dummies like us will be an advantage.

Friday we begin looking at flats (Ha! See- I’m already mastering British english!) in an area between Cascais and Lisbon. We have a 90-day deadline to buy two properties before they kick us out of the country, although based on the way we entered it, I’m not even sure the authorities know (or care) we’re here!

What We’re Expecting From Our Move To Portugal (and other statistics)

When talking to various people about our impending retirement to Portugal, we’ve encountered a fair amount of amazement that we could even do such a thing. To be sure, moving to an entirely different country– especially one where you don’t even speak their national language– is a daunting task for anyone. And that doesn’t even count leaving friends, family, and a DVR behind.adventure-meme

I mean, it’s one thing to tout YOLO! and spew phrases like, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,” or go on and on about creating memories instead of accumulating stuff. But to actually move to another country? Clearly, not everyone is comfortable doing that. Probably with very good reason… I never discount the idea that we’re quite mad.

But the responses got me to pondering what our expectations are. Maybe we’re expecting to live in some sort of Shangri-La, or perhaps we’re expecting Oompa Loompas to be dancing everywhere singing songs about clueless Americans. oompa-loompaOr maybe we’re picturing ourselves lounging on the beach, while doting Portuguese in grass skirts feed us grapes and mai-tais. Or maybe we think our life will be like one of those movie montages, with music playing in the background while we dance around Lisbon with huge smiles on our faces. (Of course, any actual dance videos of us would be dominated by us hitting our heads and tripping over each other, as well as Portuguese people shaking their heads and spinning their fingers around their ears (as in, “they’re crazy!”).)

Frankly, my actual expectations are that life will be just as mundane as it is here, especially once we learn the ropes and some of the language. Of course, that’s other than our excursions into the rest of Europe to sightsee, which is, frankly, much of the reason we’re doing this in the first place.

But, as many people who know me know, I like statistics and data. It’s one thing to hear anecdotes or determine an opinion after a visit for a few days, it’s another thing to understand the underlying data surrounding lots of issues.

A while back I read an article from someone who was decidedly against ObamaCare. Obviously it’s now the Republican-controlled government’s top priority to dismantle that. The article pooh-poohed the socialist medical care in, well, pretty much every other country (because we’re about the only ones who don’t believe it should be more socialist). One of the statistics I remember being cited was the number of physicians per capita in various European countries. According to the article writer, their low numbers in comparison were just one of the reasons he thought socialized medical care was a bad idea.doctors

So the other day I ran across some related statistics, and I looked it up. He got it wrong, at least compared to my source: the US ranks 52nd in the world in that category. That also led me to wonder about comparing various other random statistics between Portugal and the US.

So, just for fun, here’s what my research shows (I won’t bother citing sources because this is mostly for kicks, not for any argument’s sake):

Physicians per 1,000 people

Portugal: #26 in the world, 3.3 per 1,000 people

The U.S.: #52 in the world, 2.3 per 1,000 people

(Not counting the tiny countries, Cuba has the most, followed by Belarus, Greece, Russia and Italy. Predictably, most African countries are on the bottom. My guess is Portugal ranks below the US in english-speaking doctors… which will be one of our challenges should we break a hip.)

Overall Health Systems (ranked by the World Health Organization)

Portugal: #12 in the world

The U.S.: #31 in the world

Sadly, the U.S. spends the most per capita in the entire world! And all it buys us is 31st! Holy moly! And don’t blame that on ObamaCare, that was the case well before ObamaCare was even a gleam in Obama’s eye. Maybe we should start saying we’re moving to Portugal for better health care. And I have to track down that article writer and let him know that he’s full of shit. And there are probably more proctologists in Portugal per capita than the US as well.

(The Number One health care in the world is in France, followed by Italy. The worst are of course are mostly in Africa.)

Murder rate per million people

Portugal: 158th worst in the world, 11.66 murders per million

The U.S.: 99th worst in the world, 42.01 murders per million

(Worst is Honduras with 913.5, followed by El Salvador; best non-tiny countries are Singapore, Iceland, French Polynesia, and Japan. Most European countries are far safer than the US, murder-wise. The moon is the safest by far, there has never been a murder ever recorded there, at least to date.)

Overall Crime Index

Portugal: 85th worst in the world. Crime Index: 34.55, Safety Index: 65.45

The U.S.: 46th worst in the world. Crime Index: 48.68, Safety Index: 51.32

(Lower Index numbers are better, Portugal is about as safe as Germany overall. Based on the Safety Index alone, either we, or our safety pins, are safer in the U.S., however, we’re more likely to be the victim of a crime than in Portugal. Maybe our cops have better aim, I dunno. In other words, I have no idea what the difference in Crime Index and Safety Index means, and to find out involved more research, so to hell with that. I’ll just stick with the 85th and 46th things.)

(The best in Europe is Austria, followed by Denmark and Switzerland. Worst is Ukraine, followed by Montenegro and Russia. Interestingly, Ireland is 5th worst in Europe. Too much liquor would be my guess as to why. Venezuela is worst in the world, South Korea is the best. I’m guessing they don’t want their northern neighbors to hear anything bad going on and invite a nuclear response, so they behave better than everyone else.)

Per Capita Retail Space Comparison

I couldn’t find a country by country comparison, but I thought this was interesting. Think we’re a little over-consumerized in the US?

  1. US: 46.6 square feet  (about ten times what all of Europe averages)
  2. UK: 23.0 square feet
  3. Canada: 13.0 square feet
  4. Australia: 6.5 square feet
  5. India: 2.0 square feet
  6. Mexico: 1.5 square feet
  7. The Moon: 0.0 square feet (although there is a little bit of litter strewn about)

Life Expectancy by Country:nosuit

Portugal: #49 in the world, 79.16

The U.S.: #43 in the world, 79.68

(Best is Monaco, followed by Japan and Singapore. If you want a short life, move to Chad, Guinea-Bissau, or Afghanistan. The moon will also cut it short especially if you’re not wearing a spacesuit.)

Countries ranked on math and science results for 15 year olds:

Portugal: #30

The U.S.: #29

(So poor little Portugal is virtually tied with the US in educating their young in math and science! Best is Singapore, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. Worst is Ghana, then South Africa and Honduras, followed by the moon.)

Percentage of Christians

For those of you worried about our souls, Portugal is made up of 84.3% Christians, while the US has 71%. Get thee behind us, ye heathen scum!

Lowest is the moon, followed by Somalia followed by Afghanistan. The Vatican wins with 100% (hard to imagine there’s not that one guy); the next non-tiny country with the most Christians is Romania.

World Happiness Report (sure, it’s subjective, but hey)

Portugal: #84 in the world, 5.123

The U.S.: #13 in the world, 7.104

(Best is Denmark, followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Nor– … hell, all the Scandinavian countries. No wonder why Bernie likes them so much! Saddest? The moon, then Burundi, Syria, Togo, Afghanistan). Presumably, Portugal’s low ranking has something to do with a poor economy, but that’s one of the reasons we can even move there. They want our property-investment money. Besides, we’re certain this ranking will spike up just because Carolyn and I are moving there!)

Under-five Mortality Rate (per 1,000 live births):

Portugal: #41 in the world

The U.S.: #5 in the world

(Best is Norway, then Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands, U.S., Germany. The U.S. does a lot better than the last article I read on this topic. Worst is North Korea… maybe infants are smarter than we think: would you want to keep living if you found yourself born in North Korea?)


The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators. Again, we’re very aware that Portugal would have a low ranking here. Which is why it’s affordable and that they want us to bring in our money!

I don’t think we’ll move here.

Number one is Norway, followed by Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, and then the US and Canada. Portugal ranks 43rd, right between Chile and Hungary. The moon is currently last, although the Chinese are trying to land someone there in order to move it above Niger, which is otherwise last on the list.

So there you have it. I’m not 100% sure what I’ve learned after all that, but it was kinda fun!