When I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, one of the main goals was that I had to be able to earn a living and still have a life.
After decades in the corporate rat race, I made a 180-degree career change and became a culture transition coach, allowing me to enjoy a life balance that I never had in my previous corporate career. In my current role, I can work online wherever there’s a steady internet connection.
As a culture transition coach and intercultural psychologist, I help equip people with the tools they need to adjust to new cultural environments, either during their preparation to move to a new country, after they have arrived, or even when they are preparing to return home. As an expat, I use my firsthand experience and training to help my clients navigate better through these sometimes tricky cultural transitions.
I am lucky enough to be able to work mostly online so I can organize my time as I like. This allows me to have quality family time and time to explore Portugal. Being a small country, it is not difficult to go on two- or three-day trips over a long weekend or take frequent day trips.
Even though Portugal is small, the variety of options and sceneries are plentiful. If I’m in the mood for a coastal trip, I’ll take the day off and head to Ericeira, about 30 miles from Lisbon. With a vibrant surf scene, I can either go to the beach or have a great lunch at one of the many delicious seafood restaurants overlooking the ocean.
Another one of my favorite day trips is to visit the Buddha Eden Garden in Bombarral, just 45 miles from Lisbon. It is the largest oriental garden in Europe with about 25 acres of land filled with statues of Buddha, pagodas, and terracotta displays. The calm and serenity of this place recharges my batteries any day of the week.
If I’m feeling in the mood for something more historical, I head off to visit Óbidos (50 miles from Lisbon). A walled medieval village with coffee shops is just the place to feel like you’ve gone back in a time machine. I try to avoid the weekends, since on Saturdays and Sundays the tourists will remind you that we are actually living in the 21st century. Each March, I go to a chocolate festival there to forget about my diet for a day.
When I feel like diving into the wine world of Portugal, Porto and the Douro region are just a few hours away. I prefer to take the train, and in just four hours I’m in the center of the city of Porto. For a weekend getaway it’s the perfect place to go wine tasting. Of course, stopping at Majestic Café for cake and coffee is compulsory, as is a visit to Livraria Lello, one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world.
When heading back to Lisbon, I can stop by the historical village of Belmonte. Only 185 miles from Lisbon, it’s known for its Jewish tradition, with ancient synagogues that survived the Inquisition. The air is filled with the scent of history, wine, and delicious olive oil.
The list of places to visit for a day trip or weekend getaway is long. The hard part is choosing whether to visit a new place or revisit favorites, since many places are so beautiful, we want to visit them again and again.
I am lucky enough to be able to organize my schedule in a way that accommodates the coaching sessions, family life, and visits to Portugal’s breathtaking cities and villages.
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