Beautiful Stories: Sue and Diana
Publish date : October 11, 2022
Sue and Diana throw soccer parties with friends, they’re Certified Culinary Travel Professionals, and they celebrate São Martinho with jeropiga and chestnuts. So we learned when we talked with this lovely couple from the US living in Monte Estoril. Seeking quiet, we met at the Parque Marechal Carmona under the trees, only interrupted by clucks and quacks.
Why did you choose Cascais?
When we first decided that we were moving to Portugal, we did a tour from top to bottom and ran through a lot of different places rather quickly. We knew we wanted to be, at least to start, somewhere reasonably close to Lisbon, because we have a lot of administrative things to do. We also were still working, so we needed access to an international airport. But neither one of us really wanted to be in the big city anymore. We talked to several people who suggested we look along the Linha de Cascais. When we saw Cascais, we thought this was a beautiful place to start out. Plus, the train makes it very easy to get to Lisbon. With some help, we found a place to live that was about a 15-min walk down to the beach.
What do you believe is unique about Cascais?
It’s a little refuge place. It’s so close, but outside of Lisbon and the busyness of the city. We think (and hope) people like to come to Cascais when they’re visiting Lisbon to take a breather. And there’s a lot to do here! Out in nature, the beaches, the shops, restaurants, museums… When tourists come here, they should make this their home and go to Lisbon, Sintra, and so many other places that are easily accessible. Then they can come back and just relax, spend the evening here. Also, the weather is usually very temperate. We do get some highs and lows, but certainly not anything like Lisbon. And it’s very cosmopolitan, you find people from all over the world. There are parts of it that are very Portuguese and parts of it that are very international. So, depending on what you feel like that day, you can dive into the neighborhoods or you can go to the downtown area, and have really different experiences.
Was it a cultural shock to move to Cascais? If yes, why?
It was a lot less than we were expecting, in that there is such a diversity of people here. The culture shock comes in when you’re trying to learn the language and everybody is so accommodating: as soon as they see that you have a funny accent or you’re struggling for a word they try to accommodate you and they say ‘My English isn’t so good.’ We’re listening to them and their English is way better than our Portuguese. It’s a lovely thing, but at the same time, it creates a challenge for us who want to integrate more and more. We always say ‘Don’t apologize, we’re the ones who need to assimilate to your language and culture.’ Our intention is to stay here long term. There’s no way either one of us wants to live in a country and not speak the native language.
Is living close to the ocean as dreamy as it sounds?
Yes! We both grew up next to major bodies of water [Diana in LA, Sue in Chicago], so we’re both grounded in that water feature. But here, we make more of an effort to go and see the ocean and be near it as often as we can, because it’s so very close. That will definitely be something that we look for, no matter where we live in Portugal.
What are your favorite things to do in Cascais?
Hiking and being outside. For Diana, a huge donkey fan, going to Quinta do Pisão and seeing a whole bunch of burros. And, because she grew up by the ocean, having the smell of the salty air. There’s something quite special about being able to walk along the Paredão and get a little bit of the sea spray. The art really stands out too: it’s everywhere you go. Even when you’re walking on Ribeira das Vinhas, along the way there are birds painted on the caps; when you walk along the Paredão, you can find eyes on little rocks. Even in downtown Cascais, there’s a lot of literal street art. But you have to pay attention. There are world-class museums here as well, and not a lot of people realize that.
What do you struggle with in Cascais?
Mostly the hills. We don’t want to complain, but it’s always a chore to go back up after you’ve had your fun or you’re walking with your bags. The buses are a little unpredictable. Sometimes they’re spot on, other times they’re nowhere in sight. Everywhere you go here, there’s a hill, except in the downtown area. And if you want to have a view, you’ve got to have a hill.
What's been your favorite use of Portuguese since moving to Cascais? You're not allowed to say 'saudade' :)
Most places we’ve come from drink big beers (in Portugal, that’d be called a ‘caneca’). But the little beer, the imperial, is much more common. One day, we went to Flecha Azul, one of our favorite restaurants here, and we were having a hybrid English-Portuguese discussion. The servers and the owners are a family and they already know us. Everybody ordered a caneca, but Diana didn’t want to drink that much beer, so she asked for a little beer. The waiter smiled and brought the canecas. Then, he went back in again and came out with a teeny tiny beer mug and filled it with beer. And he said ‘Here’s your little beer’ (laughter).
Do you have any embarrassing Portuguese language moments?
Probably, but they’re too nice to tell us. The funniest thing is that people pronounce Sue’s name with an ‘i’ here. And then to top it off, her last name is Reddel with an ‘r’, which is tricky. They call her ‘Sui Rrreddel’.
In Portugal, do you feel welcome and integrated with local life?
We do. We still go back to the area where our first apartment was. That was much more of a neighborhood, with the butcher, the hair salon, the hardware store, the Chinese store… We got to know people really quickly, we made great relationships that we’ve kept. Sue loves her floral shop lady, and they try to talk to each other the best that they can. One time, the lady said ‘I like you.’ Portuguese women are not afraid to tell you what they think. That makes us feel closer to the community — going to the grocery store and people recognizing us, thinking to themselves ‘Those are the Americans, they don’t speak very good Portuguese. What are they going to say today?’ (laughter).
Now having experienced Portugal, do you envisage living anywhere else?
As we explore and see what else is out there, for sure. We try to keep our options open. But there’s something special about Cascais. Wherever we live, we will always come back, just because it’s such a special place. We’re happy that this is where we landed and for now, we use it as a jumping-off point to explore other parts of the country as well.
You can follow Sue and Diana’s adventures on their website Food Travelist and through their articles on TravelAwaits, where they’re featured contributors. They’ve also written two books: What Should I Do Now (a handbook on helping work through life decisions) and 101 Tips For Moving To Portugal, #1 best seller in three travel categories.