Welcome to Portugal

We landed in Portugal after a long layover in Casablanca, but little the worse for wear.

4.30.16 Lisbon from the air-004 Here’s Lisbon as we landed. The bridge that looks like the Golden Gate is the route to our house in Cotovia. The tower in the center of the photo is topped by a giant Cristo statue.


Stayed overnight near the airport and picked up our car the next day. We went off to find our house, and met Ruca, our host. After a helpful intro, we went shopping and immediately settled in. The house is perfect for us. It’s near the beach, but not far from necessities. Our next order of business was to find the beach.

Praia do Creiro on a sunny day from above.
Praia do Creiro on a sunny day from above.

I already have a lot of questions about Portugal, like how Portuguese developed as a language distinct from Spanish. Don’t be fooled, Portuguese is not a version of Spanish. It is it’s own thing, and not at all easy for a Spanish speaker to pick up quickly. Many of the people we come across in stores speak English more readily than Spanish.

Then there’s the history of Portugal. How did it get to be a separate country? No, I probably didn’t pay enough attention if I was ever in a class that explained it. Even the guidebooks skip from prehistory to the Moors to King Manuel I.

Portugal seems to be doing fine, despite or because of the EU bailout it received in 2010. Reading about debt and bailouts sounds much more sinister:


Portugal still has a lot of debt, relatively high unemployment (though lower than Spain) and a bloated public service sector. We see little of this other than the numerous museums in Lisbon, some of which are wonderful. I’ll come back to that.

Rather than looking at Portugal as a problem state of Europe, compare it to Morocco and it looks pretty good. Portugal is just over 20% of the size of Morocco. It’s population is 10.5 million, and its largest city, Lisbon, has around 575,000 people in it, smaller than Boston (city limits). Population density is higher (113 per km²) than Morocco (74 per km²), yet per capita income is much higher ($11,120 vs. $3,070). At the same time, when adjusted for purchasing power (PPP*) the difference is diminished: Portugal $14,101 vs. Morocco $8,164. PPP is generally seen as a way to compare standard of living that takes other factors into account than income. It suggests that the money Moroccans earn may be less than the Portuguese, but does go further in covering their expenses than it does in Portugal.

*PPP: the purchasing power parity (PPP) value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given year, divided by the average (or mid-year) population for the same year. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita)

That’s a bit like finding that a phone recharge in Morocco give you four times the face value of your recharge (a 10 dirham recharge gives you 40 dirhams of phone time). Getting off the plane in Portugal, a 10 euro phone recharge give you 9.4 euros of call time. Welcome to Europe.

Last but not least, here are a few photos of our very comfortable house in Cotovia. It’s missing a few photos of rooms we’ve already spread out in, but I’ll add those.

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Published by winifredcreamer

I am a retired archaeologist and I like to travel, especially to places where you can walk along the shore or watch birds. My husband Jonathan and I travel for more than half the year every year, seeing all the places that we haven't gotten to yet.

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