Charting a couple's move from London to Portugal, tales, adventures and moving advice

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Portugal – A Six Month Review

Posted on June 10, 2010 by Ben Algarve

Readers of the blog from long ago may remember a post called “Worries and Jitters,” that I posted just over a year ago, when I looked into the future and wondered how we would feel about our move to Portugal once we had been here six months or so and everything had sunk in.

At the time, I promised to revisit the questions that I had asked myself and see how the real-life experience compared with my predictions. As we have now just passed our six-month point, I thought it the right time to make good on that promise and see how things had worked out.

I wonder if I’ll miss everyone too much?

Algarve Early Evening

Algarve Early Evening

Not really. Our own visits back to the UK, combined with people coming out to see us means we have had plenty of company, and that time you do spend with family and friends is more precious.

We do suffer from the occasional “home-sick” day, and “sick” is the right way to describe it, as it hits you suddenly and really is like a physical feeling. At those times, technology like Facebook and Skype really does become a lifeline, and one we would hate to be without.

Being at such a distance also reveals a few surprises in terms of relationships with others – the people who make the most consistent effort to stay in touch and come to see you are not necessarily the people you would have expected.

Given that I am writing this the day before the world cup, I must mention that however much I love being here, the best place to watch the game is in a rowdy London pub with a bunch of good mates, and I expect to miss this tremendously in the coming days.

I wonder if I will miss the changing weather in England?

No, not one little bit – and after our first Algarve winter (the wettest since 1870,) it is quite changeable enough where we live now!

It is nice to know you will only need shorts and flip flops every day from March onwards, and on the odd day that it does hammer down with rain it is a pleasant novelty. England can keep the frost and biting wind!

I wonder if the locals will accept us?

Almost without exception, we have been made to feel very welcome, something for which I am extremely grateful. About once per week we are served in a shop by someone determined to scowl their way through the transaction and this can be slightly offensive when the same individual manages to be polite and jovial to the Portuguese people ahead of us in the queue. This doesn’t get us down – every country has its share of arseholes and Portugal certainly seems to have far less than London!

I wonder if I will I actually get bored of fresh fish and healthy living?

Well, it’s not that you get bored of fish, but you don’t want to eat it every day. With shellfish especially, its quality and abundance tends to lead to us having a fortnightly binge, followed by a period of never wishing to see another clam again!

Healthy living? Yes, we do spend more time walking, swimming and riding bikes, but my innate inability to keep to any kind of consistent fitness regime does appear to have moved to Portugal with me!

Sadly, life does still get in the way of the very best of intentions sometimes, but it is certainly easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle here without a fried chicken shop on every corner.

I wonder how much I will miss London?

London Traffic

London Traffic

The answer to this really has surprised me. When I predicted my answer to this question I was adamant that it would only be a matter of HOW much I would miss it – I would never have guessed that I wouldn’t miss it AT ALL.

We miss spending time with friends, we miss pub-banter in our native language, we miss reading the papers over a Sunday roast and we miss browsing in bookshops and record shops, but none of this has anything to do with London itself. This leaves menacing chavs, pollution that makes you cough, high prices, maddening traffic, ludicrous quantities of signs and announcements listing things you are not allowed to do, and journeys on public transport that leave you hot, sweaty and cross.

So, no, we don’t miss London at all!

I wonder if it will all be as wonderful as we hope?

The last question is the biggest, and the hardest to give a straightforward answer to. On a web-forum the other day, someone said, as part of a conversation, “nowhere is paradise,” and that was the first thing that popped into my head when deciding how to answer this question.

Wherever you find yourself in the world it doesn’t mean you won’t get food poisoning when you have made plans, it doesn’t mean clients will start paying their invoices on time, and it

Praia De Cabanas, Algarve

Praia De Cabanas, Algarve

doesn’t mean there won’t still be days when you wake up in the morning and simply don’t feel up for it.

However, as I type this I can glance out of my window – I see blue sky, sunlight bouncing off palm trees, and all I can hear are church bells, birds and crickets. I have great quality food to put on my barbecue shortly that cost us next to nothing and a small rack of inexpensive but delicious wine to choose from. I am not still in a car cursing the traffic on the A3, knowing that when I get home all I will have the energy to is decide which menu to order my takeaway from.

Most of all, I can be fairly confident the sun will blaze in when we lift the shutters in the morning and that if I am having an “off day” there is always that endless, glistening sea at the end of the road to lift my spirits.

Would I go back? What do you think?

If you are interested in what I predicted my answers to these questions would be prior to my move to Portugal, you will find them HERE.

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3 to “Portugal – A Six Month Review”

  1. CcoR says:

    Hi There,

    nice to read this one. I am putting my money on you, please don’t give up, I would love to see you becoming a “real” Portuguese.

    Advice: Make Portuguese friends!!!! That is what is missing.

  2. fatima says:

    Yes, I second that, make some portuguese friends, I beleive they will give some helpful tips of “our” behaviour…manners etc…

  3. admin says:

    Hi CcoR and Fatima,

    OK, you have given us an excuse to spend a lot more time in bars! Our mission to make lots of Portuguese friends begins as soon as we get back from Seville! (see new post.)

    Joking aside though, meeting Portuguese people of our age (30s) hasn’t proved as easy as we thought it would. We are a bit old for the club scene and we haven’t really found an equivalent to the pub/bar scene we were so used to back in the UK when people go out in mixed groups.

    It’s not a problem, we are not lonely here, but I can’t help thinking there is a “scene” somewhere that we haven’t found!

    Best

    Ben



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