It’s my final day in Lisbon, Portugal, and I’m already consumed with nostalgia. It’s a bit premature considering I’m still here, and I’ll be returning in about two weeks before flying back home. Nevertheless, my daydreamy brain is already creating vignettes of my time here, even placing a soundtrack to it so that I’ll think of this city every time certain songs play.
I can’t help but pull together every piece of the past month and try to figure out where it fits into the big puzzle of my life. I do this every time I leave a place. I try to understand what role it plays in the bigger picture: What have I learned? What have I received? How have I changed? Maybe it’s just too soon to know…
Spending a month in Lisbon has been an absolute dream, although it has been quite different than I pictured it. That’s usually the case, as my imagination often gets away from me before a big trip. I can’t help but envision a different version of myself; a version that has all the energy in the world and never sleeps or gets moody. Needless to say, that version does not exist.
But once I allowed myself to spend my time the way I really wanted to, rather than the way I thought I ‘should’ spend it, I enjoyed every moment.
I didn’t rush around to see things every day. I didn’t visit any attractions. I didn’t check off everything on my to-do list.
I allowed myself to just be and do exactly what I wanted, when I wanted. I wandered the cobblestone streets and admired the beautiful buildings. I watched the trams and people pass by. I stopped for um café whenever the mood struck. I sat in cafes for hours reading. I popped into the shops and restaurants that looked interesting to me. I sped past the main squares filled with people and found quiet spots instead.
This city feels so magical with its colorful buildings, winding streets, steep hills, tiled facades, old trams, tiny cafes…every detail makes you want to stop and take a photo. I never got tired of walking through the streets and just looking at things.
But my favorite part of the past month?
The time I spent at ‘home’ in my Airbnb. Every morning, I’d wake up, open up the windows to let in the fresh air and sunlight, put on some music, and prepare the simplest breakfast: coffee, juice, and croissants. On work days, I’d eat while checking emails or getting started on a project. On weekends, I’d sit by the window and enjoy breakfast while reading.
I’m a homebody at heart, just one who happens to travel sometimes.
I think this month in Lisbon has taught me two things:
- I can be happy anywhere, as long as I do the things that make me happy.
- I love having a home, and I don’t want to give that up. (i.e. the ‘digital nomad’ life is not for me)
I’m so grateful to Lisbon for giving me clarity about what I want right now. That is essentially why I came here: to give myself one last chance to see if I truly wanted to be traveling all the time, or if I just wanted a home base with the freedom to travel when I chose to. I can always change my mind in the future, but for now, I have my answer.
I will always look back on this short period of my life with fondness. When I’m doing the dishes, making dinner, sipping on a coffee…the streets of Lisbon will appear in my mind, and I’ll let out a long and quiet sigh: ‘ahhhhhh, Lisboa’.
I really believe I’ll return to Lisbon someday (I mean, after the time I return in two weeks). So this isn’t goodbye, it’s see you soon.
I’m off to spend a few more weeks traveling around Portugal (and yes, I’ll be spending a bit more time in Lisbon before I leave). I can’t wait to get home and start sharing ALL the Portugal blog posts here. In the mean time, you can stay updated with my travels over on Instagram.