On Buying a Used Car in Portugal

This entry might be a little mundane for those preferring pictures of the beautiful scenery of Portugal. But for some reason, the differences between the US and Portugal (or any other advanced country) fascinate me. Sometimes the differences are minor and inconsequential, but sometimes they’re a slap-on-the-forehead-why-don’t-we-learn-from-the-other-country kinds of issues (in both directions).

img_4158Since the process of buying a car is not all that consequential (despite the fact that it is usually one of the most expensive things most of us ever buy), the differences noted below aren’t really head slappers. I just find them interesting.

When we began our search, it was a bit confusing. In the US, you have rows and rows of new and used cars on all sorts of dealer lots. Just drive to “car dealer row,” and you can meander through thousands of choices. Test drive one, decide you like it, negotiate, and off you go.

In the Lisbon area, there are plenty of car dealers, but none of the new dealers we could see had lots filled with cars: just shiny showrooms with new cars on display (without any price stickers or anything else on the car windows). Just outside of Lisbon we passed by some used car dealerships that were clearly on the low-end side of things. We didn’t feel inclined to shop in those dealerships; I’m guessing our experience would have been more similar to used car buying in the US than it turned out to be in Portugal.

Otherwise, it was difficult to find used car websites that gave you any idea what to do from there, especially with them being clumsily translated by Google into english. So we decided to simply drive to a dealership on a Saturday to see what’s what. Lo and behold, they were all closed! Yep, car dealerships here are closed on weekends. Those are surely the busiest days of the week in the US… and Portuguese dealerships are closed. To which I say, “hurrah!” for the Portuguese. They put family time ahead of making a buck. And as long as everyone’s doing the same thing, no one misses out on any bucks at all, because surely no fewer cars are sold, they’re just all sold during the week, and all the employees get their weekends.

Of course, that’s something that can never change in the US, because it would not only involve a bunch of collusion between all the dealers, but a vast cultural change as well.

Our friend Erika steered us to a company called Santogal. Again, we looked at their website, but that really didn’t help us. So we ventured out once more (not on a weekend- see: we’re learning!) to find the dealership. It turns out that Santogal, as I understand it, is basically a company that networks all the top dealers in the area. And so ultimately, you sit down with a salesperson who works through the website with you, once he finds out what you’re looking for. And that’s simply how you find your car.

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We named him Marco.

We were assisted by a gentleman named Pedro, who not only spoke excellent english, but he was a delightful, friendly, unassuming man. The only salesmanship he exuded was being helpful and friendly. He was about as far away from the “What can I do to put you into a car today?” schtick as Donald Trump is from being a scientist (even if you’re a fan of his, you have to admit he’s no scientist).

Pedro showed us all the VW Golfs and Polos that were available in our price range. Since I had never been in a Polo, he found one on the lot (as far as I could tell, none of the ones on the lot were quite for sale; maybe they were in the midst of being processed. In any case, it was apparent you wouldn’t point to one on the lot and ask how much it was). Once we were comfortable with the feel of the Polo, we went inside, perused through all the options, and found one to our liking.

(By the way, I typically prefer Japanese-made cars because of their reliability and quality of construction, but in Europe, Japanese cars are not only a fair amount more expensive, but getting parts and service is much more problematic. So German, French, and Italian cars tend to dominate the landscape.)

As to the deal, there was no negotiation: they listed the price and that’s it. I tried a little bit, but I believed him when he said they simply don’t do that. I confirmed this fact with Erika, and ultimately was happy for it. The other option was of course to try and buy one from an individual, but due to the language barriers and our newness to the culture and so on, we decided that wouldn’t be the best idea. Besides, you really have no idea what you’re getting, unless you take it do a mechanic and go through all that rigmarole.

So we now wanted to see the car in person. He said he’d have it delivered and we could come back in a few days to test drive it. Once it was in, I went back to the dealership, test drove it, found it to be perfectly great, and was ready to drive it off the lot.

Hold on there big fella! We don’t work that way in Portugal! It was a Tuesday, and I’d hoped to be able to pick it up by Friday because that’s when our rental car was due back. He said that should be okay, but what he thought I meant was a week from the upcoming Friday; in other words about ten days out. Once we cleared up our miscommunication, I expressed surprise that it would take so long.

He told me they had to service it, and he showed me some little dings here and there that they’d want to touch up and so on, and that it would take at least over a week to get all that done. Yes, they even provided touch up paint on the little dings a two-year-old car will always have. I couldn’t have cared less about them, but they wanted the car to look brand spanking new.

I couldn’t object too strenuously because after all, they were going to do good things to the car. It did mean that I had to rent a car for another week; but renting a car here is crazy cheap… about $5 a day (before taxes) gets you a nice little four door just like the Polo.

When the day arrived to pick it up, he told me it wouldn’t be ready until about 5:00. They had to download some additional software updates and make the final delivery to the dealership. I wanted to return the rental car to the airport by noon to avoid extra fees. When I told him that he said he’d be happy to come pick us up when the car was ready.

As it turned out, he was able to pick us up before 3:00, so all we had to “suffer” through was a leisurely lunch at the airport and about a half hour of reading.

The car was beautifully detailed and looked as good as new. They even replaced the license plates even though the car was less than two years old, because the new ones they’re using now look so much nicer. Hard to beat that attention to detail!

Santogal also provides a one year warranty on the car, which includes pick-up if there’s a problem as well as a replacement car for 48 hours. Even for a flat tire.

img_4709I noted with interest that the displayed price was actually calculated with a 23% tax included. That’s a hefty tax; I’m glad it wasn’t added in afterwards, I might’ve really suffered some sticker shock. I don’t begrudge Portugal their taxes, however. I did a search on tax burden by country, and Portugal wasn’t even on the list of the top 27. (Neighboring Spain was 19th on the list, while the worst was Argentina followed by Bolivia. Of course, this was a report on business taxes, but hey, I can only do so much research for a stupid blog only you’re reading (prove that anyone else is!). While we’re at it, however, the lowest tax rates belong to Macedonia, followed by Qatar. Neither the US or Portugal were on either list, so I guess they’re both somewhere in the middle.)

In the end, I was absolutely delighted with the process, the service, the warranty, the deal, the salesman, and of course the car. Santogal clearly dominates the used car landscape here, but the service they provide at reasonable prices clearly demonstrates that you don’t need 50 competitors to give consumers the best prices and services. I’d take the Santogal experience any day over every single car buying experience I’ve ever had prior to this.

Journey to the Cintra of the Earth

Sintra is a beautiful town about 30-40 minutes outside of Lisbon, and is a must-see during any visit to the Lisbon area. A bit of trivia we learned from our expert guides is that Sintra used to be spelled Cintra. I don’t know why they changed it. Maybe the Portuguese got tired of the high C’s. Doh! (I like to put bad puns like that in writing because I usually get punched when I say them out loud).  Hopefully they won’t change too many more spellings as we go along, because Portuguese is a difficult enough language to learn as it is! We’ve begun our tutoring, and can now mispronounce a couple more words!

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That’s Cati on the left, followed by her husband Tom, Marta, Kevin, and Carolyn. It was an awesome day and they were awesome tour guides!

Our realtor and good friend Marta enlisted the aid of her sister Cati and her husband Tom, who live in Sintra, to give us a guided tour of the iconic Pena Palace and the spooky-looking Quinta da Regaleira estate. Sintra is known for its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, resulting in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so we jumped at the opportunity to see the area while guided by very knowledgeable people. We enjoyed a full day of walking and picture taking, but still didn’t see nearly everything Sintra has to offer. We shall return!

 

 

In the meantime, here are some of the shots we captured:

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Well first, I had to steal this one from the internet because there’s no way I could take one this picturesque.
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A view from below of the Castle of the Moors, built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries. It was surrendered voluntarily in 1147, which is probably a good thing because they hadn’t invented helicopters yet, and I can’t imagine how even today’s military could fight their way up there otherwise. Despite the fact that, you know, we like castles, we had to save the visit inside for another day.
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Part of the Quinta de Regaleria estate, originally built for the Addams Family.
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This is a little chapel on the estate. There’s a stairway on the right that leads down to a little room with a hollowed-out altar where I swear they must’ve held human sacrifices. There’s also a quasi-underground path connected to it that takes you to Lurch’s room in the house.
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Duh-duh-duh-duh. Snap Snap. Duh-duh-duh-duh. Snap Snap. “They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky, the Addams Family. Their house is a museum, when people come to see ’em, they really are a scream, The Addams Family!”
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Marta swears she just saw Uncle Fester going through that door.
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Marta and her willing victim—er, friends.
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This may have been the Uncle Fester Marta thought she saw.
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This is a view of the Castle of the Moors on the left and the Pena Palace on the right, which was built much later.
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This is what you might have seen if your name was Timmy and your dog was named Lassie.
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This is the view from above. It is called the “Initiation Well.” With a name like that, you can see why I thought maybe they had human sacrifices on the grounds too. Anyway, we walked all the way down the spiral. And then there’s a network of tunnels. Really cool stuff. Have no idea why they made it all; apparently this well was never used for water, but instead was used for ceremonial purposes that included Tarot initiation rites. Lassie, where are you?
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A complete stranger kindly points out the fact that there is water falling here.
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That may look like green cement, but it’s actually a pond that will suck you down and turn you green up to your butt should you fall in. We did have to walk across it to get out from under the well, but we’re happy to say none of us turned into half-green monsters. Almost, but we kept our balance. Sure, there was a lot of arm flailing, but hey.
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We were mystified as to what this was without the services of that helpful stranger.
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Carolyn makes sure to tell me that this is a picture I cannot put on the blog.
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There is only one steep, switchback-laden road up to the castle. These little Tuk Tuks are the best idea for the ride, because huge busses come barreling up and down like they do it every day. Oh wait, they do. Anyway, the road gets very clogged with lots of pedestrians and these Tuk Tuks pushing their lawnmower engines to the limit as well as cars of every size. We ended up having to park a fair ways away from the entrance, and then yours truly and Tom dropped off the ladies and gallantly made the eight mile trek back and forth to the car. Okay, maybe it wasn’t eight miles, but they use kilometers here, so it’s very confusing.
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Carolyn never would’ve been saved like Rapunzel because she wears her hair a little shorter.
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This is called the Wall Walk of Death. Well, maybe only I call it that. I was happy to take the picture from below. Especially after I saw the sign that said, “It’s been <8> days since the last tourist fell off this wall.” It was in Portuguese, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it said.
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She’s like, “Oh, c’mon, it’s nothing. You’d have to be just one foot to the left and stumble a little, but the flight down would be lovely right up until the very end!”
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The different colors were from different times when the castle was built. But I think the king just wanted to match the colors of crayons his kids used in their Disney coloring book.
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This gargoyle looks like me before I’ve had my morning coffee. Oh wait, I don’t drink coffee. Okay, this is me all of the time.
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They wore very, very big hats back then.
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Okay, not really. It was actually the world’s smallest prison cell, albeit with the world’s greatest prison cell view!
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Carolyn ponders which parts of this decor she’ll copy for our new home.
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Marta, Carolyn, and the Gargoyle are clearly enjoying their day.
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We were fortunate enough to have an extremely beautiful day for this visit. I kept trying to hide from the sun because, being from Oregon and all, it frightens me.
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There’s a whole section of incredible views at the end of this page. I put them all together in one slide show for those of you who hate pictures of scenic views. You just have to endure this one.
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This may be hard to believe, but this is all painted, not engraved. Even in person, it was very difficult to tell that it was painted. All of it. Seriously.
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Oops, I accidentally copied a picture of the dining table from our new house in here and I can’t figure out how to delete it. Oh well, you can see we will have plenty of room for guests!
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I think I look like King Henry VIII ready to sit down to dinner. He was so-named because of the number of chairs at his dining table.
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The view of the palace as you approach.
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As you keep approaching, you keep snapping pictures. Trust me, you’re not seeing nearly all the ones we took. A very cool place, to be sure.
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Okay, this is the last shot from below. It may have been the bluest sky I’ve ever seen.
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Marta is an expert group-selfie taker.
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The Moorish Castle on top, the Lesserish buildings on the bottom.
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The kitchen in the palace. You could roast a donkey in some of those pots, which is where the phrase, “ass over teakettle” originated.
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I wonder why we don’t do ceilings like this anymore?
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This artist misunderstood the words, “The Baptist,” thinking they sounded like “Dubupptisty,” which meant “cross-dresser” in his language.
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Take a gander at this ceiling!

 

And now, twelve separate scenic views gleaned from our visit. Much more impressive in person. I would never grow tired of seeing views like this. Must’ve been great to be king!

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EVICTED!

Our estimation of the good nature of the Portuguese has come crashing to the ground. We assumed the “no party” clause in our rental agreement meant no political party. I mean, given the turmoil and chaos in the US right now, that was a natural assumption as to what they meant, right?

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We’re outa here! Our rented VW Golf is packed to the gills with everything we lugged over on the plane and then some.

But no-o-o. Apparently it means you cannot throw a “festa” and hire a rock & roll band to play in your room all night (with the speaker volume turned to eleven, of course).

Maybe a Fado singer would have passed muster? (Fado is sort of the national music of Portugal, known for its emotional and mournful tone.)

Or perhaps the sound of lit firecrackers plummeting down the stairwells at 4:00 AM was just a bit too much. But I did think it odd they complained about chairs being thrown through the sixth-floor window despite the fact that it improved the air flow in the apartment immeasurably. Those are pretty standard party shenanigans, right? Talk about a clash of cultures! Besides, hardly anyone was seriously injured!

Actually, we blame everything on the cereal we’ve been eating. We knew the Portuguese had (very wisely) decriminalized basically all drugs. Not legalized, mind you, they simply took away the idea that people who want or need to get high should be thrown in disgusting prisons so they can learn better how to steal in order to feed their habit. img_3598Instead, they put them into treatment. The result? Crime and addiction have plummeted. Whether you agree with the concept of decriminalization or not, you cannot argue with results. Why the US, for example, refuses to learn from other countries totally mystifies me. Still, this cereal seemed a little over the top; we just can’t remember what happened after we ate our third bowl. Our first treatments begin in April.

So, after finding ourselves thrown out on our ears, we hurriedly got on Airbnb to find another apartment. The new one happens to be right around the area where we’re looking for a rental property to buy, so now we can avoid paying the 1.35 euro freeway toll we had to fork over every time we drove from Cascais to Lisbon. Just to be safe, we tossed out the Golden Crack (or maybe just finished up the box, we can’t remember), and bought some coke instead. Coke Zero anyway.

(Carolyn, my sweetheart of a proof-reader, contributor, and companion was worried that people might believe we actually had a party like that and so asked for a disclaimer. The truth is, we are wanting to move rental locations every now and again just to experience life in different parts of the city. This new one is right near the “Alfama” district, which is famous for its old buildings and is quite a touristy part of town. So there. Besides, we only know three people here. The parties won’t happen for a couple of more months yet.)

Here are some of the recent pictures we’ve accumulated:

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If you only drive around Lisbon, you’ll never see all of the ornate artwork that adorns so many buildings. Walking is da bomb.
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The April 25th Bridge is in the distance in this shot from near Praça do Comercio, aka  Commerce Square.
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This is the view of the St. George castle (the gray walls beneath the tree canopy) from Commerce Square. We will be visiting that castle soon… because we like castles.
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This statue is of King Dom Jose I, who was riding around stomping on snakes (look closely below the horse’s hooves) right about the time the U.S. was declaring its independence from Britain.
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On February 1, 1908, Carlos I, the King of Portugal, was assassinated in this square. Carolyn is not giving her thumbs up to that fact, because she didn’t know about it at the time.
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The Portuguese understand how to do golden arches much, much, better than Americans.
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The sign to the left is “Museum of Beer.” If that’s not reason enough for some of you to come visit, I don’t know what is. Or maybe it’s for the parties we throw, I dunno.
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One of the famous Lisbon cable cars driving by the arch on Commerce Square. Not sure if those two women are kissing in the lower right. I think one of them is just a “close talker.”
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Our feeling is that living in a place like this, where even a mundane street seems a work of art and offers testimony to an incredibly long history, is quite something.
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This is the view from our new kitchen window. It’s called “The Pantheon,” although it was originally the Church of Santa Engracia.
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This is how they repair their sidewalks. The stones are distinctly Lisbon and give the city so much of its charm. Not too good for spiked heel wearers, however.
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This is where all this blogging stuff happened, before we got kicked out, -er moved. 
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This is the new place we’re staying. It looks impressive from the outside, but the apartments inside are small and basic. And that’s not our car. Ours is parked in the building’s indoor parking facility, which only takes four hairpin turns designed mostly for cars the size of Hot Wheels to get into the sideways stall, which only takes fifteen back and forths to fit into.
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This is a fountain in Belem. Belem is pronounced “Belay,” sort of, with the “ay” being more like a very soft “ayng,” which is pronounced with a sort of nasal twang that only Portuguese can master. No wonder they say the Portuguese language is hard to learn!
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This was in Cascais, just a few minutes walk from where we were staying. The view is sort of ruined by that big galoot, but we improved on it below.
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This is one of our favorite pictures. The scene is even more beautiful in person.

 

 

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Serenity Now.

Street artists create impressive sand art, hoping for a few euros to be put into a hat. If things get tight here, that’s our next gig.

A Virtual Photo Album

Here are some random pictures we’ve taken recently. It seems that everywhere you go in Portugal, there’s something beautiful or amazing to see. We are so incredibly fortunate to be able to live in a place with so much beauty!

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This is in Cascais (pronounced “Cash-kayish,” more or less).
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This is also in Cascais. We think that’s Gulliver’s burial mound.
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A view toward Cascais after talking a beautiful walk along the waterfront.
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Windsurfers in the harbor in Cascais. Definitely need a wetsuit for that activity!
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This house-hunting mob has invaded Lisbon!
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Those are actually shoes in this art piece; we believe them to be wedding shoes. In the background, on the astroturf, is a line of more shoes, leading all the way to the edge. We think there’s a message there, but you can decide for yourself what that might be.
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Marta, our realtor, cooking for us at a restaurant. These Portuguese are full-service people!
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Because Lisbon is so hilly, views are abundant. At the bottom are the afore-mentioned shoes leading right off the edge of the roof. Maybe it was a bad honeymoon?
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It’s a little known fact that JRR Tolkien lived in Lisbon and came up with the idea of the hobbits after seeing some of these doors.
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This is a view of famous Sao George Castle from the very front of one of the apartments we looked at for purchase. We like castles.
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Personally, I like the views of the tile rooftops more than even an ocean view. It’s so very Lisbon, and so very beautiful.
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A view from Lisbon of the 25th of April bridge along with Christ the King.
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Even Carolyn looks like Mrs. Gulliver in front of some of these doors.
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If you truly are what you eat, she has some ‘splainin’ to do!
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An impressive mall in the Lisbon area. While retail stores are much less prominent everywhere, Lisbon does have some nice malls with pretty much everything in them, including gigantic grocery stores.
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The beaches are only 10-15 minutes away from our new house. This boat may come in handy if we decide to return to the US but don’t have enough money left over for a flight.
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Carolyn showing off her hourglass figure. (Get it? Sand flowing through her hands? Aw c’mon, work with me here people!)
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Saluting the waves. Or waving at the salutes. Whatever.
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Long walk down the stairs to the beach. We’ll wait until they put in an escalator.
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This is the Praia da Foz we wrote about earlier (translation: The Fonz’s Beach). Not a large section of sandiness, but the waves and views are pretty impressive.
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Proof that I spelled the name right. Carolyn was a little chilly on this day.
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Carolyn still gags whenever she even looks at this photo. And she’s the one who took the picture! This is how they display their octo-wares in the grocery store.
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We didn’t want to buy any food there because we prefer generosity.
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This is a statue of a bird being held up by some guy. Not sure who the bird was or what he did, but it’s quite a monument to it. Jonathan Livingston maybe?
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I assume the people who built this were quite a bit taller than the hobbits who lived around it.
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If you don’t know what “Door of the Day” means, scroll down this blog for about thirty minutes until you reach the part where we documented our previous visit to Europe.
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A view of the coast about a ten minute walk from where we’re currently staying.
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This is actually a bicycle path in Cascais, but I like to think of it as a picturesque metaphor of our journey here in Portugal.

 

A Sunday Drive into a Fairy Tale

One of the reasons we made this move to Portugal was so that in our retirement we could see and experience things we never could on a regular basis, if at all, had we stayed home.

So when I saw the below link on Facebook, screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-6-53-18-pmI eagerly clicked on it, ready to catalog some of its featured destinations for a future trip. Lo and behold, the second one on their list was in Portugal! I searched the town name of Óbidos in Google Maps, and discovered it was only an hour away from us!

In fact, the very first place they listed was in Salamanca, Spain, which is about a five hour drive away and certainly doable as well, although we’d probably want to spend the night instead of making it just a day trip. I think that will be next on our list!

Anyway, this day seemed like a good day for a Sunday drive, seeing as how it was Sunday and, well, Sunday drives are best when they’re done on the day they’re named after. If we tried a Sunday drive on Monday, I’m sure the Portuguese would really think we’re weird, and throw metric-measured tomatoes at us as they passed us by on the freeways.

So we hopped into the car and input the city name in our Waze app in order to listen to the dulcet tones of one of the Top Gear guys guiding us to our destination. By the way, Waze is a much better app for driving directions than either Google Maps or Apple’s Maps. Plus the Waze voice says funny things –sounding all the more amusing in their chipper British accent– such as: “Make a U-Turn, which means turning your car around in the completely opposite direction,” and “Congratulations! You have now reached your destination! Although, to be honest, I did most of the work.”

The town of Óbidos is located on a hilltop, and is encircled by a fortified wall from medieval times. We immediately hearkened back to our vacation last year when we delighted in seeing castles of all sorts throughout Ireland and London. We like castles!

So here follows a bunch of pictures we took while wandering about. To be honest, the cobblestone streets were not as much out of a fairy tale as we’d hoped. I think TripAdvisor oversold the fairy tale aspects of the town, and I’d certainly never want to stay in a hotel there just to be inside an area that can all be viewed in a couple of hours. Still, due to the castle itself, and the rest of it certainly being charming, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We hope you do too:

 

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On the way there, one can see dozens upon dozens of wind turbines. It’s a naturally windy area, so they’re able to generate clean, natural energy. However, I think they may make the earth spin faster, which may be contributing to climate change. Just sayin’.
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This is the view you see when you come ’round the bend, as opposed to going ’round the bend, which I clearly have.
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Most of the castle-y bits are actually just the wall surrounding the town. But as soon as you see the battlements, you’re transported to an age of knights and dragons and faeries and hurled insults from the French such as: “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”
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Once you park in the parking lot, you get to stand by this sign and have your picture taken.
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You can also get your picture taken again next to some steps. All of the picture-taking is free, mind you. Actually, other than parking, you can explore the whole area for free.
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These stairs lead to the outer wall. It is not a good place for anyone suffering from acrophobia, or for anyone whose body would accurately be described as “fully splatted” after falling onto pavement from fifteen meters up, or about fifty feet for you American luddites.
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So that’s maybe wide enough for two people… if the one on the left is either completely non-acrophobic or just plain insane. The drop is, well, let’s just say it’s fully splatworthy.
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The stairs were surprisingly large. The Portuguese may have shrunk over the eons, because they’re almost all shorter than I am, and these steps were a bit of a stretch for me to climb.
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Forget splatworthy, that’s simply just a bottomless pit. You have no idea how hard I had to work to get over my own acrophobia to get these shots for you, dear reader.
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But once you make it up there, you’re treated to some magnificent views.

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This is a view of Carolyn from above. Due to her knee, she didn’t join me in my death-defying stunts. Nor would I would have wanted her to. Her urge to push me off the edge might’ve been too great to resist after one more bad joke.
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Once returned to safer ground, and after a ten minute cool-down period to get my heart rate back to normal, we meandered down these “fairy tale” streets. 
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Lots of little shops lined the streets. They were actually quite engaging, not all just touristy kinds of things. Carolyn enjoyed the many tiles available.
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You might see these in our place when you come and visit. The streetcars are Lisbon icons, and these replicas were very well made and detailed.
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This is a wall with a rectangular tile thing on it, and Carolyn. Oh, and a bush too.
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This vine is in the process of strangling the building. Which is why plants are so stupid, don’t they know that buildings already can’t even breathe?
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Lots of alleyways course through the little town. Just think, 700 years ago this was filled with people who’d never even heard of Donald Trump.
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My understanding is that the major castle is long gone, and this is some other castle-y structure. I felt rooked.
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It is still impressive, although it would look even better had I photoshopped some lightning behind it.
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Another view from a little farther away, still with no photoshopped lightning.
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Okay, I couldn’t help myself.
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For some inexplicable reason, they felt it necessary to add these weird plastic features. They probably serve as props for a medieval village in the summer. For us, it took away from the innate charm of being inside castle walls.
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A few from atop the castle thing you just saw above. That’s Carolyn running away from the giant carnivorous rabbit you see to her left.
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I tried to wrestle the rabbit to the ground to protect her, but I lost the fight by a hare.
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More gorgeous views from atop the walls.
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A gorgeous view from inside the walls.
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Portugal’s famous blue tiles above Portugal’s most famous female from Kolbe Lane in Wilsonville, Oregon.
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Here she has gone all incognito to trick the paparazzi.
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The cars weren’t actually from that era, as any numbskull can tell you. Those are 12th century models, not from the 14th century, when much of this was built. Sheesh.
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How’d you like to try and conquer that with just a sword and a 14th century VW Golf?
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“Honey, I’m home! By the way, where’d the stairs to our front door go?”
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There was a strange man in that window playing an organ. And an even stranger one spreading his arms wide below.

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Doing the wave.
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More building-eating vines.
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The town was kind enough to offer free guitar lessons.
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Kevin gets all romantic in front of Casa Romantica.
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On the corner of Hollywood and Vine.
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Here I am stealing something from a manikin. I figured I could outrun it.

 

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This was my attempt to act like a professional photographer. How’d I do?
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This was to make sure no one actually thought I took myself seriously as a photographer. Actually, I simply thought it was a very cool way to decorate around a urinal. It was so pretty, I didn’t want to desecrate it and so used the sink instead. Hey, I’m an American, how am I supposed to know what the customs are around here?
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Why you’d rent one of these things in such a small town is beyond me. You can drive pretty much anywhere, to be sure, but it’s a bit like renting a moped for shopping in a Safeway.
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Trust me, we took a lot more pictures than you’re seeing here. Give me some credit for editing, even if looking at all this is eating into your leisure time.
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Okay, they make these humongously large stairs but then have doorways that make Carolyn look like Manute Bol. Maybe they had legs that went all the way up to their chins? Ancient people were so weird.
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A very romantic setting for a nice meal. We of course had sandwiches and gelato in a sandwich shop.
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Outside the walls was this aqueduct that stretched all the way to infinity. Nowadays, it’s filled with Diet Coke.
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Outside of town was this huge, derelict old church. It looked like something the Munsters might’ve attended on Sundays.

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But once you paw your way through the cobwebs and wrestle open the creaky old door, this amazing sanctuary greets you.
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I can only guess that there are two people in charge of maintenance. The guy in charge of the inside is efficient and uses the church’s money wisely. The guy in charge of the outside gambles a lot and smells of elderberries.
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The castle walls in the distance as we left for home. It looked a lot cooler in person because you could see the battlements. Just one more piece of evidence that you better come out to see us so you can see this really cool stuff in person!

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We Found a Home!

According to Marta, our real estate agent, most of the time when Portuguese are looking for a home, they look at three or four properties before deciding to buy.

We increased her average by a substantial amount.

However, it proved to be a worthwhile endeavor because the wide net we cast resulted in reeling in a home we absolutely fell in love with. It’s about fifteen minutes from downtown Sesimbra, fifteen minutes from some beautiful beaches, including Praia da Foz, which may actually be where the Fonz “jumped the shark” in his leather jacket, I dunno.

It’s also twenty minutes from the Cabo Espichel Lighthouse, which we showed pictures of in a previous post, 45 minutes from the airport, and a little under 14 hours as the crow flies from Portland. It’s in the “country,” but we have neighbors (although not very many), and all the services we need are within a fifteen minute drive. We won’t be able to take possession for a couple of months, but we’re excited!

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I think we were so excited when we walked in that we forgot to take pictures ourselves. So these are from the realtor. We’ll take more pictures when we get back into the house.
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It has a beautiful and large courtyard with a pool. The pool was important because Carolyn has developed some arthritis in one knee, and swimming will allow for some great exercise.
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A nice outdoor eating area in which to enjoy the beautiful Portuguese weather. We think we’ll be eating outside a lot. Carolyn’s constantly worried about bugs, but all I keep hearing from the Portuguese is there aren’t any.
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Carolyn will of course add her personal touches and change some of the color schemes. As for me, for some reason I’ve always been fascinated by spiral staircases. The upstairs will serve as a great “man-attic.” Since it can be a little tricky to get up there, I think that will allow me to to outrun Carolyn when she’s chasing me with a wooden spoon.
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The kitchen has been modernized. There is even plenty of space in a room off the kitchen in which to add a dryer, which is near and dear to Carolyn’s heart.
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This is the front entrance. It’s surrounded by a fence, affording very nice privacy and security, although as to the latter, the owner said the area has virtually no problems in that regard.
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Beaches such as this one are just minutes away. Can you spell paradise? If you can’t, then, um, just look at the word again.

The house and property actually reminds me a little bit of our home in Wilsonville, albeit smaller and half the cost. It has three bedrooms downstairs, his and hers bathrooms (they are outside of the master bedroom, which doesn’t bother us in the least), and a house-long upstairs that’ll serve as the man-attic, plus room to hide a few refugees.

Next on the agenda: we have to find an apartment to use as a rental somewhere in Lisbon. Now that we have our main home in our pocket, we know exactly what we have to spend for the second place, and of course our realtor Marta is getting to know what we like very well!