Early Impressions

I just wanted to post a brief update on what has happend so far. Essentially I arrived on Wednesday even though I was supposed to arrive on Tuesday. This was due to some fog in the Channel Islands which lead to the cancellation of my flight. I had however scheduled my flight with enough time to allow for some delay and I would have made my connection flight to Lisbon had it not been for further delay on the next available flight. This meant that instead of staying an extra day on the Channel Islands, I had to now stay in a hotel at London Gatwick. I ended up staying in the newly built Premier Inn hotel at the North Terminal, which was actually nicer than I expected. Had a Vegasy feel to it.

In any case I am now in Hotel Real Oeiras in Oeiras, Lisbon. Thanks to some help from my friend Gabriel, D33P on 2+2, I’ve been able to navigate myself fairly well around the area.
The area itself is very nice and peaceful. The weather right now is also very good, though one has to be careful in the sun as it is slightly windy so it’s full impact is likely understated.
After a couple of reschedules, I now have an appointment today at 18:00 to view a place in Oeiras. Nothing too fancy, though well situated and at a good price. Right now my main concern is to find a decent place where I can just set up shop and then take it from there.
I’ve seen some pretty nice places, but they have no furniture or living appliances in them and some may require a car for transportation. I’m trying to keep my investments to a minimum at this point as it is not clear in which direction the government will take poker legislation. Though I feel somewhat confident that there will be at least six more months of unregulated online poker in Portugal at this stage and likely more. Regulation may also not be unfavourable such that I would be inclined to stay, so we’ll see. There are a lot of ifs and maybes at this point.
For the next part of my blog I thought I would try something different and go for a quick question segment with brief answers, followed by some pictures of interesting things I’ve seen so far so here we go:
Internet?
– Download speeds seem above average at this point for Oeiras, Lisbon (compared to Austria and UK). Ping was fairly bad playing League of Legends (~150). Overall coverage is supposed to very good and above average in EU.
Is it easy to get by without knowledge of Portuguese?
– Yes, I think you can live here without speaking Portuguese, however I am not sure I would want to. It definitely limits your ability to interact with the populace and not even all young people can hold a conversation in English. I’ve already met two mid 20s males that could not speak English and they were working in gastronomy.
In contrast though I have met people with very high English skills from whom you might not have expected it.
Infrastructure?
– Seems pretty decent from what I’ve seen so far. Definitely everything is available that a modern day person needs. Where I am currently situated I have access to high speed internet, a shopping mall, health centre, park, transportation, et cetera et cetera.
Are people friendly?
– Yes, they are friendly. They are also laid back. Can’t comment much more than that at this point.
Is it easy to find a place to live in?
– I don’t think it’s hard, but I feel it’s more difficult than I expected based on the impression I was getting from people that already moved here. This may also be due to my current location or budget. If I were closer to where the action is, i.e. Lisbon city centre, I would probably be meeting more people with knowledge of available places and be encountering more places with “to let” signs in the windows. My current hotel is booked until the 23rd, so depending on what happens today after I view this apartment, I may decide to get a hotel nearer to Lisbon city centre and try looking at some places from there or prolong my current booking.
Is it expensive?
– I definitely feel that it is below average for European standards. Much cheaper than UK I think and also cheaper than Spain for example (compared to Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona). I think you get a decent bang for your buck here, which is why it’s an attractive place to live for a poker player as you are not dependent on the local job market, which isn’t very good at the moment.
Food?
– Pretty decent selection of food so far (I am close to a food court though). Haven’t tasted a lot of local cuisine yet, though have gone for steak Portugese style when I arrived with Gabriel. The coffee is very nice. I almost feel offended in the UK when I order a cappucino and they serve it to me in what seems to be a 0,33l cup. Here normal coffee is like an espresso and it is very satisfying.

Parque de Poetas

Parque de Poetas 2

Tram connecting Paco de Arcos station with Parque Oeiras mall

View from my hotel

Shot from Lisbon city centre near Chiado quater

Daniell

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Oeiras

I’ve narrowed down my search to Oeiras, which is in the south of Lisbon by the beach (there is a map of Lisbon in my last blog post which you can find here). Originally I actually wanted to stay in Ericeira which is in Mafra. The reason I initially chose Ericeira was because I thought it would be nice to have a place directly by the beach and near a good surf spot, which I am told Ericeira is.
However, due to a knee injury I suffered in the past, I think it would be optimistic to think I could surf on a daily basis. I tested this hypothesis by longboarding and snowboarding when I still lived in Austria last year and I think I will definetly be able to surf on selected days, but not daily. If I will have to take days off from surfing regularly, I would rather be better situated in a place that is closer to the Lisbon district, which holds true for Oeiras. Another benefit of Oeiras is that it contains one of Portugal’s technology centres in form of Taguspark. Technology is an interest of mine and potentially a field that I could see myself working in if I weren’t currently involved in Poker. I think it can’t hurt to be located near your area of interest.
All this being said, this is where my current plans lie to look for an apartment when I get to Lisbon. When I touch base in Oeiras, I will be looking at the area and feeling it out at first, so nothing is set in stone just yet. Also depending on how long I choose to get my lease for, I might look to relocate at some point. I think this is all the planning that I can really do at this point without being personally present.
I’m not quite on schedule regarding my audio cd language courses, so I have some catching up to do. But I have decided to try an alternative learning technique by reading “The Alchemist” in Portuguese, which is the language in which it was originally written by Paolo Coelho.
 O Alquimista
I’m not sure how this is gonna work out since I have basically never read anything in Portuguese before, but the idea is that I read it with the English copy on the side and in doing so learn about the structure and vocabulary of Portuguese and the parallels and differences between English and Portuguese. The idea behind this comes from reading one of Tim Ferriss’s blog posts on how he learns languages. If I am not mistaken, it was this blogpost: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/01/20/learning-language/ in which Tim mentioned it. I will see how that works out.
On a related note, I’ve also started reading Mastery by Robert Greene. I’ve had high expectations for this book and so far it hasn’t disappointed. It’s part biographical, part self-improvement, so if you’re interested in those topics, I would highly recommend it.
Daniell

Portugal

I will be flying out to Portugal on the 16th of April to look for an apartment in Lisbon. I had actually planned to make this move last year, but was unable to complete it due to complications at Uni and travelling elsewhere in the Summer, plus I also had a lot of catching up to do with my poker game so I had some more immediate issues to tend to.
Right now I’m making preparations regarding my move. These include figuring out where to stay initially when I’m looking for a place to stay, but also stuff like learning some basic Portuguese. I’ve also been trying to look at appartments while still in the Channel Islands, but seems that I won’t get much feedback from landlords/real estate agents that way. Most people I’ve spoken to have also confirmed this suspicion of mine that you actually need to be in Portugal to get anything done in that regard.
2+2 has been very helpful in obtaining intel on where to live, what to avoid etc. I think this thread: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/92/travel/ask-me-about-portugal-1025113/ is a good place to start for anybody interested in finding out more about Portugal from a poker player’s perspective. I’ve also been told googling “expat forums Portugal” can get you some good forum resources.

Initially I was looking to stay in Oeiras, which is in the south of Lisbon and by the beach. Here is a map of Lisbon and it’s districts:

distrito-de-lisboa-mapa
The reason I chose this area is because I read on Wikipedia that this is where Portugal’s main tech hub is. I am very interested in technology and startup business, as I follow this in my spare time, so it was a natural chocie for me, especially since it is also near the beach.
I am however not so sure anymore as some people chimed in over on 2+2 that they do not find Oeiras ideal to live due to it’s locatin and would recommend something more central in Lisbon such as Bica or Chiado (which I belive are areas in the Lisbon district of Lisbon that are very centrally located).
I guess at the end of the day I really just have to get to the areas I’ve been looking at and walk around/sit in some cafes and see how I feel about them.
Poker has been very interesting/exciting lately. I’m still really enjoying PLO and learning about the game, but also now, more than ever, learning about poker. I guess now that I have more sophistication in my way of looking at and thinking about the game, the more interesting it is getting and the more what I learn becomes applicable to other fields outside of poker which is a nice side effect. I definetly think that the way I switched from NLHE to PLO was crazy from a financial standpoint, but definetly very +ev from a happiness standpoint. I simply wasn’t enjoying poker at the time and as I’m sure many will agree, buying happiness isn’t easy, especially not with the sums I was dealing with.
This will be all for now, still have a lot of preparing to do. I’m really a little worried about the language though I’m sure I will be able to communicate with a lot of people in central Lisbon in English should it be necessary. I’ve been studying Michel Thomas audio CDs (Total Portuguese), which I think is a great way of learning how to communicate verbally in a very short period of time, but it would also be nice to have some written language skills, which I know may not be able to be acquired so quickly, though I guess it may not be as much of an issue, because usually when writing emails and similar you have a lot of resources at your desposal and more time.
Daniell
Bonus: Just saw this movie recently: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1772925/?ref_=sr_1 definetly recommend to anybody who is a fan of sushi.