As much as I enjoyed our stay in Ricardo's place, I was not sad to say goodbye to the too-early mornings with the gulls. The first apartment had been just within the remains of the original Porto city walls, with tiny winding cobblestone streets and ruins of guard posts from many centuries ago. There were a dozen shops, restaurants, and cafes within just a few yards, beckoning us to explore.
We were energized by all of the activity, but we were also distracted. We decided back when we agreed to come on this journey that it was not going to be a tourism vacation. We wanted to feel like we were actually immersed in daily life in a new place. Ricardo's centrally-located apartment made it easy to spend our time walking around and seeing the tourist sights. (It was also easy to stay out until 4 a.m. at the nearby night clubs.) We left this kitchen view:
to go a little bit toward the suburbs to the relatively modern digs of a 19th century apartment located just over a mile from the city center. We are close enough here to be able to walk to anything we need, and are within 2 blocks of a metro station, but it is so quiet and peaceful that we immediately felt like it was more of a home than a crash pad.
We have the whole basement apartment to ourselves. Upstairs is a yoga studio, massage parlor, and a friendly, smiling yoga instructor named Sonia who eagerly showed us the health food store and vegetarian restaurant around the corner.
How nice it was to see some green vegetables! Almost every block in the city hosts butcher shops full of enough pig faces and intact mammal hearts to make me aspire to veganism, and most restaurant meals consist of ham, eggs, potatoes, and the occasional prawn or piece of squid. We have already cooked some amazing meals in this place, and have stocked the kitchen with what we need to make a few more.
In addition to Sonia, the new space has a resident named Tico, who lives in the walled-in garden. He is vocal and needy, but a great companion in the mornings when I drink my tea.
Shane and I are both optimistic about being productive in this space - he has decided to make his week's project computer game design, and I have a book to finish writing.
words + pictures by Kara