The good, the bad, and the just plain annoying…
Yay! We moved into our new apartment on Saturday, July 31 and we LOVE it! The open floor plan, outdoor space, dedicated parking, and heavenly air conditioning are the main reasons. But, even with all that, it still comes with a few oddities and challenges.
The moment we got the keys and were left alone in the apartment for the first time I ran around opening all the cabinet and closet doors in the kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms to finally get a look at the storage space. I didn’t do this when we toured the apartment the first time because the previous tenants were here – like physically in the apartment – and it felt too intrusive to be doing that. Thankfully, there are a good amount of cabinets and closets and each one includes built-in drawers and automatic interior lighting that turns on and off when the doors are opened or closed – including the closets in the hallway.
The kitchen cabinets go all the way to the ceiling. This is not terribly practical, but good for storage of rarely used items, and the 287 cm (9′ 5″) center island has a set of massive drawers. So, bonus there! The shiny modern cabinets are really cool, but every finger print is visible. This means I have become obsessed with cleaning them. (For anyone who is curious as to why we have two clocks on the wall in the image below; the top is set to local time and the one below is set to California time, where all of our family members live.)
Even with all the cabinets, drawers and closets, there is not one with sufficient vertical space to store a vacuum cleaner, broom, mop, ironing board or anything tall. GAAA!! So annoying. Our last place didn’t have a dedicated space for these items either, but there was just enough room in the space where the water heater was that we could squeeze them in on the sides and utilize the back of the door. Not possible in our new place as you can see in the image to the left.
I’m beginning to wonder if the water heater we have is providing hot water for the entire building. I’ve never seen one that BIG! How big is it, you ask? It’s so big, they had to smash the front edge just a smidge to close the door all the way when it was installed. 🙄 I was able to put the broom and mop on the side, but if they fall to the back I’m not sure I’ll be able to fish them out again. On the plus side, the fact that we have such a large water heater means we no longer have to wait for the water to get warm again after one person showers (which was the case in our old place).
Also in the plus column, and because our new building was completed in 2019, the elevators are new and modern. Our previous apartment building was built sometime in the early 1970s. Those elevators require you to open a door, step in to a space that is relatively comfortable for two adults, awkward with three and totally uncomfortable with four. Once inside, you close an interior wooden accordion gate and press the button for the floor you want. While we lived there, I know of two times when someone got stuck and couldn’t get out. Every trip up and down was a little nerve-wracking (and we lived on the 6th floor). In our new place the elevators are new and modern and they speak to you. Unfortunately, we’re not sure what is being said, but we at least recognize one thing…”piso dois” (pronounced pee-zoo doysh) which translates to floor two, which is our floor.
Another interesting difference due to the age of our old building versus the new is the front door key. The old key was massive (there is no losing that in the bottom of your purse). The new front door key is a key fob, similar to what many cars have these days. No actual key is required to open the door (although there is one hidden inside the fob if you experience a problem). You just hold the fob up against a sensor on the door and it automatically unlocks and opens the door slightly. It’s amazing when your hands are full. To open the door from the inside, you press a green button and the door automatically unlocks and opens. Spiffy!
One surprising thing is that I thought I would hate the black kitchen sink and would be fine with the black tile backsplash. Turns out, it’s the complete opposite. I love the black sink, primarily because of the material that it is made from, which is a matte black when dry, and am beginning to despise the shiny black tile backsplash because it shows every water spot, speck of dust, and piece of lint from any towel (cloth or paper) I use to wipe it down. Microfiber is up next to see if that solves this issue.
Moving on…we love, love, love that we have two dedicated parking spaces and a dedicated storage room in the underground garage. The garage is amazingly clean. We’ve been parking outside for a year and a half, and while we did our best to keep the car clean, it was basically impossible. Now we feel a little self-conscious so we’re planning to get it detailed, just so we don’t look like the “messy” neighbors. Back to that storage space…it has been a life-saver. We’ve been able to put all the miscellaneous things that we were storing in the second bedroom in our old place in the storage room here, like four pieces of luggage, our ridiculously large picnic basket, all the space heaters and fans we purchased to heat and cool the old apartment, and that pesky ironing board to name a few.
And, speaking of ironing boards…I actually needed to use it this past week. I think I have ironed a total of three times in the last 18 months, because when you hang things out to dry, they come off the line pretty much wrinkle free. I was super excited that this apartment came with a combination washer/dryer. It meant we would be able to dry our clothes at times when it would be convenient for us as opposed to when the sun is shining. I’ve never used one before so I played it safe and only washed and dried towels the first time. I was happy and relieved when they came out soft and fluffy even though it took 2-1/2 hours to dry them. Regardless, it was worth the wait. We haven’t experienced soft, fluffy towels in a year and a half. Drying towels on a laundry line means they typically come back in stiff, which provides good exfoliation, but not an ideal sensory experience.
My next attempt at washing and drying was an eye opener. This time I washed a set of sheets. I laughed and laughed when they came out of the machine. It looked like I had wadded them up in a tight ball and ironed them that way. I’m not sure if both sheets were too much for the machine or if this is going to be the outcome every time. So, unless I solve that problem, we’ll be sleeping on incredibly wrinkly sheets or I’ll be ironing them. I’ll keep you posted.
We were lucky enough to meet our new neighbor, Ana, on the first day we began moving things in. She lives directly across the hall and she is great! She filled us in on all the neighbors – an amazingly diverse group of people. Ana showed us how the bizarre intercom system works. Our apartment is “J”, but you have to press the number 10 at the gate to activate the intercom. The reason? “J” is the 10th letter of the alphabet. We would NEVER have been able to figure that out on our own. Ana also clarified how to use the key fob to open the front door, and she proactively offered to print out our mailbox tags for us. She also told us the “secret code” we can use to get into the building if we find ourselves outside without our keys. LOVE HER! And to top it all off, she’s very chic, which is making me rethink my personal style game. Honey, prepare yourself. There will be more shopping in the not-too-distant future!
Getting the utilities turned on wasn’t terribly difficult. Conveniently both the EDP office (electric and gas) and Aguas Cascais office (water) are within walking distance of our new place. You have go in person to get the utilities turned on; it is not possible to do over the phone or via the internet. The reason is that you must bring a fully executed copy of your lease agreement with you, which they copy and keep on file. Getting the cable turned on, however, was a completely different matter.
We selected Vodafone as our cable, internet and mobile phone provider last year and have been happy with their service. After we signed our lease agreement in early June, Won called them to ask if they provided service to our new apartment. This turned into a crazy, two month odyssey which ultimately ended with us switching to MEO, a competitive provider. Long story short, Vodafone does provide service to the first and second floors (floors 0 and 1); however, not to floor 2 – the floor we are on (I have no idea why). Vodafone said they could extend the fiber and get us set up, but never got around to attempting this project until last week after Won had called and called and called. The police blocked the street to enable the technician to gain access to the fiber optics buried there, but in the end they said they couldn’t do it. Head explosion. One day later MEO came out and we were up and running.
You might recall me telling you about the glass walls of the showers in both bedrooms in a previous post. Well, here is one in all its glory. I haven’t been able to put my solution in place to give us privacy, so I’ll leave that for another post, but suffice it to say that I haven’t, and never will, get used to showering in full view of an empty bedroom. (By the way, it looks like there is a window in the back of the bathroom, but that is a reflection of the window behind me when I took the picture.) If the logic of using a glass wall was to bring natural light into the bathroom, it was a misguided idea. We have to fully lower the black out shades to ensure we have privacy which means no natural light. Seriously…who designed these bathrooms!!??
While there are many things we love about our new place, one of the best features is the outdoor space. Won is in heaven now that he can BBQ again. We also decided to purchase a second lounge so that we could both have our own space to chill out and put our feet up, because, you know…doing nothing requires rest and relaxation.
I’d love to show you the rest of the place, but not one single room inside is fully done. One of our bedside tables isn’t due until sometime this month, our dining room table won’t be here until mid-September, and our living room couch won’t be delivered until mid-October (aaarrrggghhh!!!). The reason for this irritating wait? A shortage of foam to make cushions and a backed up supply chain because of this #$%@&! virus!!!!! This means we won’t be doing any entertaining until those items have been received. I hate waiting. 😠
In the meantime, I will continue to happily source other items we need and make adjustments once furniture pieces are delivered. As an example, after receiving the couch I had originally chosen for our living room, it was too small based on the new layout. It is now going in the second bedroom, which we have turned into an office/TV room (i.e. no bed). Apologies to anyone who was hoping to stay with us when visiting. That is a no-go, but don’t let that stop you from coming. There are some super cute places to stay nearby.
And, before I close this post I have to acknowledge my amazing husband. A few months ago I had to see an ophthalmologist about some issues I was having with my eyes. She put me on some medication and told me I wasn’t to do anything strenuous for several months. I’m not allowed to exercise, with the exception of walking, nor can I lift anything heavy. This meant Won moved everything on his own, unless it weighed nearly nothing. He never complained once, made what seemed like a thousand trips between the two places and carted everything down and out of our old building and up and into our new building. What a sweetheart! 💖
Apologies for being AWOL last week, but I’m finally settled and back in the rhythm. I hope you continue to stay safe and healthy, especially with the Delta variant running rampant around the world. As always, please stay in touch. I love hearing from you.
From Portugal with love,