Lisbon, Portugal

We are in Lisbon now, where we’ve come by rental car from southern Spain. Lisbon is another city that is easy to fall in love with with because it has everything – ultra modern infrastructure, creative architecture, historical old towns and castles, a stunning coastline, and gorgeous mountains – all of it well preserved and not spoiled by excessive tourism. We’re lucky to have close friends here, Marc and Natalie, who have kindly opened up their home to us and made us feel like locals – there’s nothing we enjoy more than these types of experiences. Marc and Natalie are entrepreneurs and very active across Europe (and beyond), so we’ve been comparing notes on the economic problems in this part of the world.

The majority of our time this year has been spent in the crisis stricken PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain). On the surface we’ve often commented that the crisis is difficult to notice and all appears to be well. But whenever we venture further from the resort towns and yacht marinas, and interact with locals, the truth emerges, which is that these countries are in very deep shit. We see empty restaurants, closed retail shops, we speak to young people giving up hope for the future and wanting to leave, we’ve seen countless small protests in front of government buildings, the list goes on. When we look at the fundamental problems these countries face, particularly with respect to their indebtedness and the employment prospects here, the situation looks bleak, particularly for the jobless youth. The debt is obviously unpayable, there are no decent jobs here, and these countries are bankrupt. From what we can tell, the kids here may be right to abandon hope, it may be a good time to pack up and leave.

It’s also time for us to pack up and leave because we need to get down to the Algarve region of Portugal on the southern coast this afternoon. We should have reserved more time for this country because its beautiful here and there’s just too much to see and do in the short time we have here. Oh well.