How much does it cost to live there #3

July 12, 2019

Finally enough data for semi-meaningful category averages. I’ve compared my first 3 full months here in Caldas da Rainha to the 2018 monthly average in Hua Hin. Some categories are omitted because what I’m spending on is and will be so different than in Thailand. For example, I won’t be making 2 round trips flights from Bangkok to Europe in business class each year.

In the Difference column of the tables below black numbers show higher cost in Caldas, red lower cost in Hua Hin. All prices were converted to Dollars.

It was a no-brainer that housing costs would be much higher. I went from a studio apartment without a kitchen located far enough from the town center that leasing a motorbike was essential to a 3 bdrm, 2 bath apartment in the center. I wanted a 2 bdrm because rooms here are small. Took the 3 bdrm for the location and because it was only €50 more than what was the upper limit of what I’d wanted to pay.

Pellets? What are pellets? The lowest cost way to heat a living space: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pellet_stove

Food cost surprised me. Thought it was going to be higher in Caldas. Here I’m getting more animal protein, higher quality produce, bread, and cheese. The cafe portion sizes are substantially larger.

Much better insurance coverage, including my pre-existing conditions, for less in Portugal. Prices are so low that when they’re posted by expats on forums and FB groups, readers in the US think that’s the cost per month, not the cost per year. Prescription drug prices are lower, OTC higher. Both will go down now that I qualify for the SNS (national health system) health card.

Buses and roads are both better and more expensive here. No moto-taxis, Tuk-Tuks or Baht Buses here, so I’ve had to use taxis when buying something too big or heavy to carry home. Living in the center means zero need for a motorbike.

Laundry costs less because the apartment has a washer and 3 clothes lines outside the kitchen window. Spending more on clothes because after years in Thailand, I didn’t need any more shorts or t-shirts. That $23 average came from a single day in Lisbon at Primark (same retail concept as Zara and H&M) For my $69 I came home with 1 pair cotton twill pants ($9), 2 pairs cotton twill cargo pants ($15 each), 3 pairs of what I thought were called ‘boxer briefs’ but Primark calls them ‘hipsters’ ($10), and 6 pairs each of shorty athletic socks and longer, warmer socks. ($20). TMI?

Because this blog doesn’t have enough photos, here is today’s haul ($2.70) from the farmer’s market 200m from my apartment. For size reference, the green cutting board is 15″ wide. The yellowish ones are plums.

Advertisements

It’s Outdoor Events Season

June 22, 2019

There are many. Except as noted, all take place in either the large city park (Parque Dom Carlos I), or in and around a campus-like cluster of municipal buildings about 800 meters to the west (a technical school, hospitality industry school, Senior University, indoor sports complex, city library, and a combination BMX / skate park).

Sports demonstrations, food, music, and ‘muito mais…’ (much more…)
Live theater. Title translates to The City of the Birds.
Sardines, music and Marchas Populares

What are Marchas Populares? According to this article, it’s a combination parade and singing competition on St. Anthony’s day, first held in a Lisbon park in 1932. In 1934 an estimated 300,000 people filled six city parks. People came from Spain for the event. According to this article, it’s evolved into:

” The feast days of the popular saints (festas dos Santos Populares) is held in every street, neighborhood, and public square of the city. The biggest street party of the year might sound religious in nature, but trust me, it’s really all about sardines, beer, and irritatingly catchy folk music called pimba, which can only be described as slightly polka sounding songs that focus on squeaky-clean lyrics with sexual undertones. “

Camp SCMCR

Annual party hosted by the SCMCR, a group that assists children and seniors, who sometimes live in the SCMCR facilities. Besides the 4 bands, there will be sardines, snacks, pig roasted on a spit, and much liveliness. Admission will cost you 2 smiles and donation of 1 drink (beer or juice). Held in the bullring. For an aerial view of the facility, at Google Maps paste this into the search box: CV58+34 Caldas da Rainha , zoom in, then switch to satellite view.

Art works encouraging greater awareness of the natural world

The Superior School of Arts and Design of Caldas da Rainha (ESAD.CR) is one of the best in the nation. Don’t know if their students are the source of the works displayed.

Eight types of display art plus ambient sound.

Held at the regional bus station in the town center. The covered outdoor areas are so much larger than needed for waiting bus passengers, it seems as if it were designed as a dual use space.

Dance Performances
Band, orchestra, and philharmonic performances
Championship BMX and Skate, food, music, and surprises
Photo I took early on the second day of the event

This Blog Ain’t Dead Yet

June 26, 2017

Moribund, but not dead. I’ll revive it for a possibly too detailed account of the quest for a residence visa to where ever the next country is. Portugal looked good enough on first impression. I’m headed back for 2 weeks in Sept, by way of Vienna, to venture into the suburbs of Porto and Lisbon so as to simulate some day to day resident behavior.

In the meantime, here are Ideas for blog posts I rejected almost as fast as they appeared.

20170606_104758-shrimpfat

Also known as cholesterol in saturated fat.

 

20170523_054619-shoecubby

No one cares this lie flat airline seat has a cubby hole for your shoes.

 

s95-20170624-01168-sardines

Top can has 3 big sardines. Bottom can has “12-22” svelte, pliant ones. They’ve only been sold in Hua Hin for a few months. They are far less likely to trigger my stomach acid problems, so I’m stockpiling them. Why? Calcium and heart-healthy oils.

 

s95-20170621-01167-sprained

Sprained my right ankle. Got a Slab put on today. It’s rigid cast material that runs down the calf to the heel, then across sole to in front of toes. Front is open so I can remove it to shower. It’s held on by an Ace bandage. Crutches are going to suck.

 

20170513_092006-pieface

I passed on buying this in Portugal because I thought the fun would immediately wear off unless one was drunk enough.


So how was the flight on an A380?

April 8, 2017

It looks a lot bigger in real life. There wasn’t a ramp from the gate to the plane, there was a ramp to a 3 way intersection (First, Business, Economy), then stairs, then another ramp then OMG. It’s bigger on the inside than I expected. Four across seating allowed for ‘seats’ (pods would be a better name) with this between the seat part of the pod and and the aisle:

J-20170327_204229-800

For the first time there was more – far more – storage space at the ‘seat’ than I could use. One of these holds the full length sleeping pad and pillow, the other is for, uh, duty free purchases?

20170327-01663-800

I put that pad and pillow to good use, getting 5.5 hours uninterrupted sleep on the way to Sydney.

Return flight was scheduled for 7:30 pm. We left at 9 pm. Is flying Business Class worth it? Good question. Maybe if I could barely afford it I’d have a good answer. I do know time passed quickly and comfortably in the Emirates lounge. But the best part, after walking about 5 kilometers on the warmest day yet, was my first stop in the lounge:

J-20170327_170021-800

In 2015 I flew biz class for the first time, on a flight to Vienna. It was a 60th birthday present to myself and an experiment to see if it would reduce jet lag and travel fatigue. It did. Flew biz class again last year to Amsterdam to verify my findings (HA! I don’t even believe that justification). Thought about a quote I’d read decades earlier: ‘A luxury once sampled becomes a necessity.’ Wasn’t concerned because I’d long since learned that when I did splurge it was balanced by my pervasive living beneath my means.

After my third trip with long biz class flights I’ve realized it’s probably time to switch to another quote. Last year I read about the discovery of a walled off section of a NYC subway line. It contained the deteriorating remains of one of the best known and most opulent private subway cars from the era when the system accommodated them. The author found a quote by the owner from the period she was using the car. When asked if a private car was an acquired taste, she replied, ‘No. One takes to it immediately.’

 

 


O Lucky Man!

March 19, 2017

So far, it had a been a fun day in Melbourne. I went to Luna Park, an amusement park that opened in 1912, for a photo shoot. As expected, on the way there and back I followed distractions, which had me heading back to the hotel later than expected. Not a problem.

Then I kept eating up time. When changing trams, I got on the correct route going the wrong way. Realized that after one stop but waiting for the right tram took a while. While waiting I saw a big banner advertising a stage play touring company now in Melbourne. Googled for tickets, but, as expected, they’re sold out until late April. While my face was buried in the phone, I missed the next tram.

Once on the correct tram I soon saw something worth photographing and hopped off. After 15 minutes, checking Google maps showed 2 options back to the hotel: tram or train. Had yet to take a train in Oz, so I took the longer way home.

Walking from station to hotel I passed a theater. The one hosting the sold out play. An open door had a small sign saying box office open. The stated hours open had started 5 minutes earlier. Walked on, then, in a moment of non-pessimism, turned back and went in.

There was one ticket left for a matinee the next day. She asked my price range. I asked first see the seating chart. Wow. Decided to buy before hearing the price. Why? Sometimes SLADS (Spending Like A Drunken Sailor) seems like the best thing to do.

The view from my seat:

J-20170319_124631-800

Front row in the first balcony.  The show was excellent:

20170319-00758-1280

If I remember correctly, this is the third live musical I’ve seen. First was A Chorus Line by the UC Irvine Drama Department in the early ’80s. Second was Reefer Madness in a 99 seat theater in LA in 1998 or 9.


Travel Whim Met Reality

March 25, 2016

My forearms were hurting a bit from too much mousing but the trip ideas were flowing so I stuck with it for a few days. The result is a plan with my ‘must sees’, interspersed with unscheduled days.

Some destinations could not be left to whim because of price and availability of desirable lodging. Why?  Spaniards away from home for a spring weekend affect supply and prices. Old towns sell out before the new part of town. On hilltops, the upper old town sells out before the lower old town. By ‘sells out’ I mean in the range I’m willing to pay.

The Map of The Plan:

 

#1 Fly to Granada. 3-? nites
#2 Between #1 and #3 with some or all in #2 Seville. 0-6 nights.
#3 Arcos de la Frontera, a hilltop walled town. 2 nights
#4 Somewheres inside the magenta loop. 5 nights
#5 Cáceres in the old town. 2 nights
#6 Salamanca on a weekend. 2 nights
#7 Not on map – #8 Segovia – #9 Not on map. 7 nights.
#10 Cuenca in the upper old town. 2 nights.
#11 Toledo in the old town. 2 nights
Last night in Madrid then fly to Stuttgart.

 

I’m glad I found the advice to book lodging in Amsterdam before buying airline tickets. There was precious little availability for my preferred flight dates. Because I have 11 hrs and  15 mins between arriving from Bangkok and departing for Granada, I chose to stay in the airport in a… well… they call it a ‘Standard Cabin’.

amsterdam-yotel

A gatekeeper prevents optimists from bringing anything larger than a carry-on bag into their Yotel (that’s the correct spelling). One must use airport baggage storage or be checked through to the next flight.


Elementary, my dear student.

March 2, 2016

Last fall, in anticipation of a then as yet unplanned second trip to Spain, I started studying Spanish again. I quit in 2014 after dutifully practicing almost every day since 2008 with my electronic flash card deck. Don’t remember why I quit and don’t care.

It took a month to catch up on the overdue cards. After that I expanded the deck with useful items from word frequency lists and irregular preterit (past tense) forms for the most common verbs. Next I changed most of the sample sentences from present tense to preterit. I applied every memory trick and learning tool I could to getting over the pronoun hump. Finally, I found a good source of connecting words and phrases, e.g., ‘In that case…’, ‘blah blah, however, blah blah’, etc.

Then I stumbled across a placement test for Aula Virtual de Español, or Virtual Spanish Classroom. Such tests are heavy on the grammar. Twice since 2008 I’d taken such a test. Both times was classified into one of the bottom two categories. Bleep grammar because for now I want to increase my ability to get by. But I was curious if the concentrated and expanding studying had helped.

The possible outcomes:

Spanish Test Feb 20 - AVE Levels

My outcome:

Spanish Test Feb 20-small

“Test finished. According to this test, you can carry out the levels A2.1 – A2.2 of AVE. Consult with your center to be located in the most appropriate course”.

Whoo hoo! You bet that helped motivate me.