[Originally sent as an email on 10th December 2019.]
I have assembled 99 photos that document our first 6 weeks in Portugal and you can see them here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/enKr25uNuk5FoKEt8. Make sure you click the icon (or on mobile) once in Google Photos so that you can read the captions. If it fails to open, try opening the link in an incognito window.
In general, the move to Portugal has been a success and I don't foresee us moving back to the US. However, after we sorted out or official paperwork and obtained a local bank account in the first few days, I perhaps had unrealistic expectations of how long it would take to get settled in a new apartment; it took 5 or 6 weeks (and 4 trips to Ikea by bus and train) so it has only been in the past week or two that we've felt free to do things for fun rather than necessity. In the last week we've made two day trips outside Lisbon.
I continue to be amazed by how many Portuguese speak good English and it feels like I'm cheating by only knowing one language and still getting by. Today we obtained library cards which was easy since the librarian spoke English. I've stopped asking anyone under 40 if they speak English as it almost seems rude to ask; we have learned that it is mandatory at school from age 10. A lot of older people speak French as a second language which is fine with Lan as it is her second language too (English is her third and Portuguese will be her fourth). I confess I have not even started learning yet but will start lessons in January. Lan has been making good progress with Duolingo but most times she has tried to use it, the response has been in English. Automated phone systems are a challenge and I think I've had to deal with three. I gave up waiting on one and on the other two I just kept selecting "1" until I reached a person who, of course, spoke English and was able to assist me.
Our only friends so far are the woman that ran the Airbnb and her husband and I am concerned that our lack of interaction with locals is going to be a problem. We will have to find ways to meet people but we haven't yet addressed that issue directly.
We still don't have a tenant for our house in DC and are not likely to at this time of year so we now think we will sell it. That means I will come back to DC to do more work on it so that it is ready for sale in the spring and also arrange to have our non-furniture items sent over.
I would be thrilled to hear your news so please write when the opportunity arises,