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Geez, it is Cold
Our driver, Victor, drove us about 30 minutes from the Lisbon Airport to Estoril. Just over 24 kilometers, 15 miles, from Lisbon it is situated on what is called the Portuguese Riviera. It is perhaps best known for the Casino Estoril which was featured in the 1969 James Bond film Casino Royale.
Our first impression of Estoril is that it is a lovely small beach town with some really big houses/manors. Once the summer retreat for the former Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, it was also a destination for dignitaries and exiles during and after WWII. Today, it boasts a large expat population better able to afford the housing prices out of reach of most Portuguese. (Note: the minimum wage in Portugal is only 665Euros a month. Like the US, at $7.25/hour, a minimum wage worker is living “in poverty”.)
Our first, second, third, and fourth impression is “Geez, it’s cold!” You may recall that temperate climate was a major selling feature of Portugal. As luck would have it, Portugal is recording one of its coldest winters in many years. We met one expat who explained that she had lived in Estoril for 30 years and this is the coldest winter she could recall. Perhaps it is because of the polar vortex.
Perhaps our blood has thinned from 17 years in Florida and 3 in the California desert. Whatever the reason, it is a fact that Portuguese homes are NOT built for cold winters. Instead, they are built with bricks (not cinder block walls and insulation) and designed to be cool in the summer.
Consider this as you consider the fact that the Portuguese pay among the highest prices for electricity in Europe. In fact, electricity is near twice the rate paid in the US. In 2020, the price in Portugal was 22.3Euro cents per kilowatt-hour. At today’s exchange rate that is 23 US cents or ,20 Pound Sterling per kilowatt-hour. Yikes!
This may explain why our landlord can be seen wearing her puffy coat inside her home. It may also explain why she suggested we turn off the electric wall unit in our living room and only use the portable units when absolutely necessary. I believe her exact quote was, “If you continue as you have, you will exceed the utility allowance in your contract by 700Euros a month.”
The cold weather, in part, explains why Denise and I started looking for more permanent accommodations within two weeks of arriving. More on that tomorrow.