Global warming? I’ve read about it, I’ve seen the images of the arctic ice cap melting. And still, at this moment I find all that hard to believe. Unless the earth has tilted on its axis, and the north pole is sliding south…
January in Portugal can turn out to be quite the surprise to the expats that all came here because of the sun. But oh, there is sun! Bright sun from a clear blue sky. Yet the temperatures makes this Swede miss her long underwear…
There has been a period of unusually cold weather, due to some weather systems bearing down from Siberia (possibly?), pushing the milder Atlantic temperatures away from the Iberian peninsula. There has been snow on the beach resorts of south Portugal and Spain!!
The Lisbon area hasn’t gotten snow yet. But freezing temperatures at night, sometimes rising to a staggering 12 degrees C during the day. And here is a surprising fact: a majority of Portuguese houses are not built to be warm. Some claim they’re not all that good at keeping the heat out in the summer either. Should I dare mention the magic word “insulation” here?
Most local architects and builders have yet to become acquainted with inventions like thresholds, insulated windows or efficient heating systems. It seems that the locals are fine with wearing more clothes indoors than outdoors. There is a cold wind blowing in from under the front door, making the stone floors feel like an ice hockey rink, and a chilly draft from the windows that make the curtains flutter. People have to get quite creative in order to avoid astronomical electricity bills.
There is a huge market for gas heaters, pellet burners, hot air fans and electric blankets etc. And even more in the less high tech area, like fur lined slippers or boots (yes, for indoor use), anti-draft devices of all sorts, insulation tape, heavy drapes, hot water bottles and even fingerless mitts.
Most of my Portuguese friends do complain about their cold houses, and if they are lucky to have a fireplace, they shop for wood and already saved up pine cones since summer. But if you ask them how come they don’t build their houses to withstand a normal winter, they will just brush it off by stating that winter only lasts for one month or so (but we all know that is stretching the truth just a little).
I’m not complaining. Not much anyway. Because I live in a well-built house, with a good heating system, and a fireplace. Although a threshold under the front door would be that one final thing to make it all absolutely perfect. But leaving my comfy house in the morning does mean I put on every single winter garment I brought here from Scandinavia. All of it.
Going back home a few hours later for lunch, hat and mitts are already in my bag. That’s when I remember: Winter is short here. And there is sunshine. Yay!
If someone suspects me of exaggerating, please check out story in links below