Ohhh Sintra. What is there to say about Sintra?
A lot. But I didn’t read all the placards scattered around town.
(My former man friend did. In fact he read every single one. Skimmed them? No, no, every word on every placard. In every museum, in every castle, on every sidewalk. Hours of reading as I staggered through jet lag, seasonal allergies and a mild-to-moderate hangover. If you’re wondering why we’re not together, read every word in that paragraph and you’ll get this gist)
So instead I lazily present you with pictures of a town that looked like a living breathing postcard.
In October 2015 I began a whirlwind, mostly long distance love affair with a dashing English man* who lived in Portugal. In November I flew out to visit him. And while the relationship stalled after five champagne fueled days together, I fell madly in love with this petite European nation.
When I touched down in Lisbon, my gentleman caller whisked me away* to his home in Cascais, a small coastal resort town. At first glance, Cascais is gorgeous.
After a quick breakfast at home, we headed back out for a wander around the charming town centre. The streets were uncrowded due to it being low season (and a Tuesday morning). Each summer, visitors from Portugal and around Europe, swarm Cascais for the golden sand beaches, posh hotels and restaurants, and lively nightlife. But on this mild Autumn day , we wandered in peace and often solitude.
Cascais is one of the wealthiest parts of Portugal, which was obvious as we strolled the spotless cobble stone streets. The town centre radiates history, culture and prosperity.
I only spent about a day there but I quickly understood what had compelled my English suitor to relocate. With friendly locals, a mild climate, decadent and delicious restaurants and breathtaking natural beauty, Cascais is the kind of place that gets under your skin. The kind of place that makes you start fantasizing about a new life in this little slice of paradise.
It was either you see me or the buildings. I chose me.
*Note: some details may have been edited to make my life sound more like a mid-century romance novel.
It’s been nearly two years since I last posted on this blog. Two years ago I was approaching my second to last semester of graduate school. (I graduated in December 2014 with my Masters in Social Work). Two years ago I was struggling to find my place in this city (and in this world), to find people to form true connections with and to figure out where this journey of life would take me next.
Now two years later I’m having similar feelings. I’ve realized recently that my adult life unfolds in two year increments. Over the course of 730 days I get a new job, get a new apartment, immerse myself in a new city and new friends. I experience the joys and challenges that accompany newness and change. But as the novelty of a sparkly new city wears off, as the monotony of a 9 to 5 existence sets in, and as the promising first dates become disappointing second ones, disillusionment creeps in. My need for change becomes my solitary, almost desperate, focus.
So now, two years since I last wrote, I have passed my 730 day mark in New Orleans. In July it will be three years. I have a stable job with a good salary. The job is fine but the schedule is wonderful. It allows me to travel far more than a 9 to 5 every did. I’ve lived in the same apartment for most of my time in this city and I feel at home within its bones. My New Orleans circle has expanded and contracted along the way but it has taught me the importance of quality over quantity.
Yet throughout my nearly three years here, a current of disillusionment always finds its way in. Sometimes it’s just a trickle. Other times, a steady gush. A few times, like now, a deluge. In these times, the best way to sort through my jumble of thoughts and ideas is to write them down. Figuring out what’s next is always a difficult and rewarding process. There are so many things I want to do in this little life of mine. Time will tell what path I will skip down next.
This long essay is all just to say, hello, I’m back and as lost and found as ever.