I’ve been daydreaming about seeing more of Portugal…

by Gigi Griffis
A wooden walking path leads through sand dunes up toward blue sky and presumably down toward a beach

When I moved to Portugal, I came here sight-unseen. 

I’d never been to the beaches of the south, the vineyards tucked away inland, the iconic mountains of the islands. I’d never passed through a Portuguese airport. Never set foot on Portuguese soil.

I came because it seemed like it might be the right place. For good winter weather (though this year has proven that assumption wrong). For good community. For a gorgeous language I could dive into learning. For the dream of putting down roots in Europe.

I chose Porto because I’m not a big city girl, and Lisboa sounded deeply overwhelming. Porto, smaller, grittier, more local (they said), felt like a more manageable first step. A home base from which to see more of the country, decide where I’d settle in for awhile.

The north appealed to me because I was nervous about summer heat and tourist crowds of the south. I don’t mind moody weather and I love lush, greenery. And so the north tugged at me and this is where I landed. 

Yet despite all my good intentions to travel and see more of the country I’ve decided to call home, I haven’t left Porto much at all. Just a few day trips, a few nights away, a few hikes through sand dunes or forest.

Partly, this is due to covid. Numbers were high when I arrived and they still aren’t gone (though the world seems to have collectively agreed to no longer mention it). 

Partly, this is due to finally getting several big breaks with the fiction I’ve been quietly writing on the side for many years. Since arriving in Portugal, I wrote one book, edited two, crafted two book proposals, and sold one (which I’ll be writing this winter). That’s on top of my day job. Which means I went from a leisurely part-time work schedule to more than full-time. When I did have time off, I felt like exploring Porto itself, laying around with a book, or taking a big trip to see friends (my France trip last summer).

And partly, being in Porto this whole time has been about the fact that I committed to a gorgeous, luxury apartment…quite a bit over my normal budget. Which meant the idea of planning a bunch of travel felt financially stressful for the first time in a long time. Paying rent and utilities at the apartment and at a rental somewhere else felt untenable, especially when I’m trying to break into a career (fiction) that doesn’t pay well at first.

So here I’ve been in Porto. Never Lisboa, Coimbra, Madeira, Algarve, Alentejo, Azores. Not the national parks. Not the beach with the biggest waves in western Europe. 

And as I tend to do, I’ve grown restless. Ready to see more, do more, explore more.

Which is why in 2023, it’s time for a change.

Time to recalibrate my life for adventure again. To see more here in Portugal and also venture back into other parts of Europe again.

So, for a little while longer, I’ll be here. Just here. Writing another book. Soaking in the sun whenever it comes out. Working harder and longer hours than usual. 

And then I will be back to traveling. Exploring. Wondering at the new.

For those who’ve written to ask for more Portugal content on the blog, it’s coming. For those who miss the wide-eyed joy of a completely new place, it’s coming. For those who bet that I couldn’t stay put too long, the odds were always in your favor.

Stay tuned.

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