Another long, exhausting yet thoroughly exhilarating day yesterday. We saw a total of five flats, three of which were too big, too small, too expensive, or too weird. Two of them, however, could very well be Just Right.

One is great inside, really nicely set up and furnished, but on a busy street in a less picturesque and slightly inconvenient neighborhood (although still a short walk or tram ride to some of the most beautiful areas of Lisbon). When we asked the guy if it quieted down at night, he said, “Oh yes, everything shuts down by about midnight.” Ha! Biggest drawback, however, was the fire station directly across the street. Right. So that one was nice inside, not so nice outside.

The other good one was brand new inside (literally in the process of being refurbished), though not quite as nicely set up or appointed as the first. It’s on a much quieter street, yet still very close to a main thoroughfare, providing easy metro access to Gabe’s university and the rest of the city.

More importantly, it’s on relatively low ground, which means a flat walk to the metro stations and the nearby neighborhoods. After getting a thorough cardio workout from traversing Lisbon’s hills these past two days, we have quickly discovered this to be a huge asset! It’s also close to a gym, although at this rate I may not need one for months.

The biggest negative to this last flat was that it’s on the ground floor of the building, so the windows open directly onto the store opposite. Not so picturesque. But the bedrooms in the back have a nice view, and there’s no stairs to negotiate — which is also a big plus here, especially when hauling huge suitcases.

So far, those are our best options. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the flats, which also included: a funky 70s-decorated journalist’s home (these are all vacation rentals, so the decor is very subjective!); an apartment with tiny metal steps leading up to it that felt like the inside of a yacht, with wood paneling and dark furniture; and a tiny place in the historic district that gave incredible views over the water. We’ve decided that this is by far the best way to get to know a city, because in the process of finding these places, we are quickly becoming familiar with all the various locations and areas, getting lost and finding ourselves again, figuring out how one place is connected to another, etc.

And the adventures we’re having en route are priceless! Since we found all of yesterday’s flats on Craig’s List, we essentially got personalized tours of the city from the two people showing the flats. On the first, we spent twenty minutes walking through the old district near the castle, hearing stories about all the buildings and churches we passed, then hopped a cab to a completely different area and found ourselves in the diplomatic/economic district — which had a much different feel and look.

The second apartment tour was much more hair-raising: a short ride piled in a two-person convertible Smart car with me on Gabe’s lap, knees pressed against the dashboard, as our driver negotiated the narrow city streets, one hand on the wheel and the other on the phone, driving almost as fast as he was talking. We made it to the flat intact, only to discover that Gabe had left his iPod at the first flat we’d seen, so in we piled and back we went. Whew!

Our quick lunch in a nearby tree-shaded park was a welcome respite from the frenzy of those few hours. Unfortunately, we discovered that the next appointment had been canceled only after we’d hurried our meal and taken a cab to the place we were supposed to meet our man, but it came as a relief nonetheless. We limped our way home, literally, stopping only to take care of some paperwork and get some supplies for dinner. The rest of the evening was spent crashed out in our room, a well-earned rest after another day full of adventures.

Today we get to explore the less fun side of our move: bureaucracy. And then some more apartments. Onwards and upwards!

Here are some pics of the flats we saw yesterday, at least from the outside. And yes, that is a marching band, which we saw on the street while heading home. I think there was some rally or match at the park nearby, which I could hear til late (for me anyway) last night.

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more about “Day 3 “, posted with vodpod