4 months since our last post, unbelievable. We were a bit busy, hahaha, so time went fast.
After enjoying the northern part of Portugal, we wanted to visit Lisbon. Many people told us it’s a great city with a nice cultural vibe. We planned one week to explore. The city is quite due to Covid-19. No mass tourism. Shop, restaurants and event centers were open but did close on the 15th of January (we arrived 22/10/20) for a complete lockdown. To find our spot to stay, we make use of an app called Park4night. An App with places for wild camping, campgrounds and parking spots in Europe. A massive number of spots to stay entered by other travelers all around the world. In big cities we never do “wild camping”. We feel the camper is not secured and it doesn’t feel relaxed. We always go for campground or secured parking lots. During our last 2 years of traveling, more than 70% of our spots to sleep were in the “wild”. Sometimes a beautiful green surrounding and sometimes a horrible grey one (parking lot with a lot of concrete). The non-wild spots were always in cities.
We found Fábrica Braço de Prata through Park4Night. A cultural hub with a big parking lot as a garden for around 25 campers. We instant fell in love. We did a lot of exploring in the city and saw some great live musical performances in Fábrica. For us Fabrica looked from the outside a little bit like Berghain in Berlin (yes, we know we have a lot of imagination, so let say a far cousin perhaps). The vibe in the building is incredible and is hard to explain – but you can feel positive energy flowing. Before Covid-19 there where at least 3 to 5 concerts going on every night – 4 nights a week. Some of the best musicians in Portugal are playing here. There is a music school in the building which brings musicians & bands together. There are art exhibitions, which are rotating. Everywhere you look you will find the best art, instruments, books. It felt like coming home! The people who are working here and the owners of this place are amazing and incredible inspiring persons. Yes, it sounded like a dream.. but it was all and even more. We went to the owners to ask if we could do volunteering work. Work 4 to 5 hours a day (5 days a week) and get food/drinks and accommodation for free. We saw opportunities to help out. A lot of cleaning needed to be done around the campground / garden and they needed a hand with the day-to-day business with the campers who would arrive and stay.
We had to convince them to agree on our proposal at first but after a couple of days we were not allowed to leave. They were very happy with us. We really did our best to help out and to make things better. In these hard times extra help and revenue is more than welcome at culture places. The family adopted us directly. Morgan played the whole day with Violeta and Gabriel, the children of Nuno and Sylvia (founders of Fábrica) and Fábrica was in our opinion the best spot for home schooling to Morgan. We saw almost every night live music and learn about the way of living from the people who work and played at the Fabrica. They offered us an apartment in the building where we could stay, 2 rooms and a private bathroom. We rejected because we love to stay in our “little house” Ella. We also met very nice people on the campground – travelers from all over Europe. With some of them we build up great friendships. It kept us busy for almost 3 months!
We spend Christmas and New Year together with our new friends and the people of Fábrica. We almost forgot about Covid-19 because we were living in our own Fabrica bubble… We were already philosophize on how we could stay and earn some money. But we also found out that we were not ready to stop traveling yet. Unfortunately, Covid-19 for the second time hit hard in Portugal and Lisbon. During Christmas the government gave “carte blanche”. Everybody was allowed to visite family and friends without any restrictions. After Christmas the virus did spread heavily. Due to this decision Portugal is again in a total lock-down as of the 15th of January and borders are closed to other countries.
After 2 weeks lockdown, we were unluckily and got Covid-19 ourselves. Stephen started and his first 2 days were accompanied by heavy headache, loss of taste, tiredness and some bad hallucinations. Because the apartment was still vacant, he went to the apartment to be in quarantine. After 4 days he could go outside again, off course being very careful. Luckily, he felt much better after 3 days but tired until the 9th day. With advice of friends, we took a diversity of vitamins. With us others on the campground also got infected. Everybody had a completely different experience in regards of what Covid-19 did to them but we all could say that we had the feeling of less symptoms and faster recovery due to the vitamins. Lillian got sick after a couple of days after Stephen his first signs. She lost her taste and smell completely and had strong muscle pain. But not really ill. Women are stronger, we know now for sure. Haha…..Morgan wasn’t infected at all. We thought we ticked the box but the last couple of days Stephen got a second “attack” by his Covid. The tiredness came back with some mental issues. Slowly he is recovering again but we were surprised by the impact.
We decided in January that we would leave Fábrica to continuing traveling. There is much more to see in Portugal. What will be next after Portugal doing summer time, for now we don’t know yet. Will it be Scandinavia, Italy, Balkans, Greece or Iceland? To many options and possibilities. What a wealth we live in. Living in a camper, being with your loved ones and see the best places in the world. For us it can’t be better.
We left Fábrica with so much more life experience. All the marvelous conversations, incredible lunches and dinners and all the love– we will never forget. A big thanks towards the musicians and artists, we loved being a part of their life and adventures. We hope to see the other travelers we met at Fabrica again on the road somewhere in our shared big garden, the world.
Due to Fabrica , Morgan and Stephen took Piano lessons. We bought an electronic piano (which fits in the camper) and started online lessons. Thank you, Victor, Nuno & Duarte – we got so inspired by you. Sorry Maarten, Stephen switched…
We hope everybody is doing well. Of course we are thinking a lot about the situation in the Netherlands and in this strange world. We really hope we can go back to our normal lives as soon as possible, giving each other big hugs and enjoy the good things in life.
Love towards all of you – Morgan, Lillian and Stephen