Many people asked me lately why did I move from Romania to Portugal. And even though it isn’t an extraordinary story, I feel it’s something worth sharing.
I lived in Timisoara for most of my life, and the longest trip outside of Romania was 3 months in Paris.
But I always wanted to travel and explore de world. Since more than 10 years ago. Not really as a digital nomad, without a home and always wandering around, but more as an explorer.
Going to a place and exploring it for 1-2-6 months.
I think Pareto’s 80/20 rule applies to exploring as well. In about 20% of the time, you can explore 80% of the magic of a place. After that, it’s getting harder to find hidden gems.
So back to what kept me from exploring.
First, it was the established home I had. Since I was a teenager I was somehow building up my “nest” and saw less and less the desire to go away. Also, I was working a regular job that required me to go to an office. Actually it was a management job that really required me to be present among my team.
After that, I had a cat. Exploring the world with a pet didn’t sound fair. Not for me and nor for the pet. I knew, and I was told that a pet is not enough to hold someone back, but still, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea.
After that, I had a girlfriend that had a local job. That meant a maximum of 20-21 days of holiday.
And after that, I could finally go out and explore. It was 2018 already.
So I started asking around. The main theme that my friends and co-working colleagues heard from me were:
”- Hey, let’s go to Tenerife over the winter and work from there” or
”- Hey, let’s go to Bali, rent a huge ass villa with a pool by the ocean and work from there for a few months”
And as good as it sounded for the people around, I couldn’t get anyone to actually commit to it, even if I was the one organizing everything.
Which was more or less fine at the time, because I was living a full life in Timisoara, with plenty of things to do, with book clubs, going out a lot, small trips in or outside the country, my photography adventures, and such.
All in all, it was good. But of course, I still had that itch.
Then the 2020 New Year’s party at DevPlant Co-working came. Had plenty of fun that night but also I met a very special woman, Olivia. Not sure how the conversation went but at some point, I asked
”- So where do you live?” and got back…
And my first thought was “of course Lisbon and not Timisoara! That makes much more sense! Of course she doesn’t live here!”
Anyway, things started to pick up between us, then the pandemic started, and it caught her somehow stranded in Timisoara.
And then came the time when she’s go back home, which was Libon. And I got invited.
That was the moment I could finally scratch that itch.
Booked a flight to Lisbon, and decided to go for a month and experience living there. Going to a place as a tourist and as an ex-pat are two completely different experiences.
I flew out on my father’s birthday, in July. And got to experience Lisbon, with its amazing weather, the huge community of digital nomads and ex-pats in Lisbon, the ocean, the nature, palm trees, amazing food, the artistic and traditional neighbourhoods of Lisbon, and good people all around.
I was convinced.
A few days before flying back, I already managed to rent out my apartment. So after I landed in Timisoara, I started packing, moving some of my stuff to storage, gave some away, and the rest I packed into the car.
Just a few weeks later, I embarked on the longest road trip of my life.
In full pandemic. When borders were closing every day. When there was a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear going around.
Therefore, no sightseeing on the road trip. The plan was to get as fast as possible to Portugal.
With a small weekend break in Germany, at some good friends, it took 3 full days to cross all over: Hungary, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, and Portugal.
3600 km of, well, I meant to say highways, but no. In France, most highways start from Paris and go down across France towards the borders. And we had to cross it sideways, from Germany to Spain.
That made us go through plenty of national and local roads, small cities, and even villages.
Slept another night in Bordeaux, exhausted from all the sightseeing in France. And then the last day was all across Spain, with a small stop in Donostia-San Sebastian, a small but marvellous city by the ocean.
The hardest part was the last 60 km before arriving in Lisbon. I was so tired, that I had to stop in every service area along the highway, to freshen up.
I could already see the lights from the capital of Portugal, but so tired.
Finally, I arrived. Parked the car, and slept like a broken anchor on the bottom of the ocean.
That was about a year and a half ago.
And I still love it!