Up until very recently, we lived in big cities : Paris, Milan, London, New York. We are an urban-centered family, used to being surrounded by people of various colours and citizenship, used to finding foods from all over the world, to spending weekends around museums, busy streets, shopping, cinema.
When the occasion to change lifestyle came up, at the beginning of this year, we jumped on it.
I think some of our friends or acquaintances didn't really get it. Porto? Why?! A small city, and in a country facing economic difficulties? After New York and London, the only logical next step is a move to Hong Kong or Singapore, they seemed to imply. We don't regret our decision for a moment, however, and here are a few reasons why.
Those who have done the jump know that already: for what you get in a metropole, in a smaller town you can double or triple your living space, plus a garden and a garage. The simple fact of living in a house is so new and so great for our kids, who love climbing the tree in our garden.
Time / Southern Feel
Everything is a lot slower here, and in some parts of town, Porto seems delightfully stuck in the 50's with its old shop signs, mom & pop shops, the many old people, relatively few advertisements. We love that old world aesthetic, like something of a time capsule. Houses with laundry hanging out of the windows, late evenings, fiesta in the streets, family gatherings…
Porto sometimes reminds us of Madrid, Tangier, Naples all together.
We love the immersion in a totally new culture and learning Portuguese is great. Very difficult for us adults, so easy for the kids. Portuguese is spoken in Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and it has also got co-official language status in Macau (China) and in East Timor (Southeast Asia). Might be useful abroad one day! For now, it's proving handy every day.
Beach Within Reach
That's such a bonus: imagine working all day and, rather than a quick pint at the pub, taking in a chilled white port aperitif on the beach, maybe even for less than an hour, just to watch the sun go down. OK, it's not Rio, but Porto has small charming urban beaches, with cute bars and a beach scene. And you never know what to expect: a flat ocean like a mirror, or crazy big waves that break with huge splashes against the piers. Endlessly fascinating. Not to mention the surf, a real paradise for the boys.
|Praia da Luz|
Food and Drink
Fish, vegetables, creative "pesticos" (tapas), cheese, Portuguese food is healthy and most of the time very genuine, home cooked. There is so much more to eat than the rightly famous Bacalhau. And so much more to drink than port wine. The vineyards of the Duoro valley and the Alentejo are consistently pleasing.
Locals are very nice, always happy to welcome foreigners, to exchange kind words, to share their favourite places. Portuguese people reside on the shores of the Atlantic, but are Mediterranean at heart with a British facade. Quite reserved outside, warm inside. There's a melancholy side, but with great warmth.
So much to explore
We've seen only a bit and we were amazed by the beauty of places in Alentejo and North Portugal. Lisboa, Braga, Sintra, Algarve… much for us to discover in Portugal. Not to mention neighbouring Spain: Santiago de Compostela (only 1.5hrs away), Asturias, Andalusia.
We can even ski in winter, in Sierra Nevada or in Les Pyrenees, about 6-7 hours away by car.
This is a bonus for me. I love factories, manufacturing, contact with materials. Arriving here I was able to start a little line of home products with a talented local designer. You will see more of our products soon... Carina has promised me to keep you up-to-date!!
Thank you Florence for sharing your part of Portugal with us!