Euvie Ivanova: 10 Things I like about Lisbon

Hi, I’m Euvie Ivanova. My partner Mike Gilliland and I run a multimedia content marketing agency called Giant Supernova and have a podcast about the future called Future Thinkers. We’re also owners of and partners in several e-commerce businesses.

My own background is in visual media and psychology. I was a photographer for many years and also worked in the film and fashion industries back when I lived in Vancouver. Mike’s background is in audio and video production, and he has taught himself marketing and business over the years. He actually got me into it when we first met. The first book he showed me was the 4 hour workweek.

Being digital nomads

We traveled South East Asia for 2.5 years, and have lived in different cities in Thailand, Vietnam and Bali (Indonesia) throughout this time, and visited Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore. This past summer we came to Europe, and spent time in France, Portugal, and now Bulgaria. Haven’t been back “home” to Vancouver since we left in December 2012. We have actually just decided to take a break from nomading and stay in Plovdiv, Bulgaria for at least a year. It’s really fun to travel constantly, but it also takes a toll on things like regular exercise and sleeping habits. So we’re working on restoring those.

Future Thinkers Podcast

Mike and I always get into these deep philosophical discussions about the future, society, technology, spirituality, and other weird stuff. One day we decided to start recording our conversations, and that’s how our podcast about the future was born. Later we started inviting guests to the show too. Having the podcast is a great way to gravitate like-minded people towards us.

On meditation

I first came across meditation in my karate class when I was 13. It was a very simple technique of clearing the mind for a few minutes before we began the training. I didn’t come back to meditation again until I was in my mid 20s, in a yoga class. I actually found it really hard to get into it at first, and found that my mind always wandered. What did the trick for me was visualizing a ball of light slowly going up and down my spine with each breath, and becoming aware of the physical effects it had on each part of my body.

This really helped me focus and took my mind off my racing thoughts. I credit my amazing yoga teacher Waylon Belding with teaching me this technique. I later added more elements to it myself, but this is still how I start most of my meditation sessions. I also went to two 7-day silent meditation retreats in Koh Samui, Thailand, which I found good for deepening my practice. Meditation has had a profound positive impact on my life, from eliminating most of my mental chatter, to improving overall health, to giving me clarity in my decisions. If you'd like to give people this clarity they are searching for and you've been practicing yoga for some time now, you may want to look into yoga teacher training, I can't say I haven't been interested int the past.

Staying in Lisbon

Mike and I spent a month and a half in Lisbon in the summer of 2015. We definitely enjoyed the city, and we’ll be coming back to it again in the future. I think it has a lot of potential for becoming a digital nomad hotspot.

10 things I like about Lisbon

1. The architecture and the views

I love the colorful narrow streets on the hills with little hidden squares. There is something about these streets that encourages a community feeling. And the viewpoints are amazing. My favourite one was Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen in the Graca area.

2. The weather

It was beautiful, sunny, and not too hot almost every day that we were there this past summer. From what I have heard, the winters are very mild too - unlike most other European capitals.

3.  The food

I’ve always been partial to the mediterranean diet, and the plentiful and inexpensive seafood options are fantastic. Oh, and the coffee. Tiny delicious espressos everywhere!

4. The wine

I loved the abundance of wine - a decent bottle can be had for 4 euros (or 2 euros for cheap stuff) at the supermarket. At a bar, you can often get a glass for as little as 1 euro. I loved vinho verde, or “green wine”, a popular Portuguese variety that is slightly bubbly and very refreshing.

5. The people

I found Portuguese people to be very friendly and welcoming. Sometimes you walk into a cafe, and they instantly treat you as a friend and give you all sorts of useful advice (this was especially the case in less touristy, more local areas).

6. The proximity to nature

Having spent several years living in giant cities like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, I really appreciated how easy it was to get to nature from Lisbon. There are several parks in the city (I liked the park around Museu Calouste Gulbenkian and Parque Eduardo VII), and the Sintra castle is a treat that is only half an hour away by train.

7. The street life

I loved the little cafes with old dudes sitting around sipping coffee under the trees in little squares. The party that spills out into the streets in Bairro Alto. The musicians and random public performances.

8. The culture

We went to see a Fado performance (a type of music that is specific to Lisbon), and it was so amazing that I literally cried throughout the performance. I also enjoyed learning about the city and visiting the different historic spots, like the S. Jorge castle and the Alfama area.

9. The street art

Lisbon has some pretty interesting street art; Mike and I went on a few adventures to find it. There are several good spots close to Marquês de Pombal metro station, and also around the S. Jorge caste.

10. Lower cost of living

Than in other Western European countries, so the lifestyle output can be higher. Groceries, restaurants, and bars are much cheaper than in places like France or Germany. The only thing I had trouble with lifestyle-wise was finding decent accommodation.

Overall, I thought Lisbon was a great option for digital nomads. I will be back.

Photo credit: Euvie Ivanova

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