As promised last week, today we have a guest post from a good friend who visited us last week. Our guest plans to move abroad some day so her visit was as much a fact-finding trip as a holiday – weighing up whether or not Portugal is somewhere she may one day like to live.
As someone who has been thinking about leaving the UK for a while now, going to see friends who have made that big leap and moved to Portugal was a great place to start. Having people who can show you some of Portugal’s best hotspots was definitely rewarding. I did look at the week as a holiday but at the same time everything I did made me ask myself, could I do this all year round?
Once I got to my friends’ place, the fact that it looked like a holiday apartment was nothing new but seeing their photos and home comforts scattered around made me realise that they actually do live here now and this is life for them.
They were telling me all the things that they had been doing and all the places I could visit while I was there as we sat on the balcony until midnight. The enthusiasm in their voices made me realise that not only were they very happy to be here but also excited about sharing this new experience with me, which made me just as excited as they were.
On the first day, as I stepped out onto the balcony, the first thing that hit me wasn’t the heat, as you might expect, but the brightness. Not a cloud in the sky (which was a brilliant blue) and the glare from the white buildings around me made me think twice before opening the blinds without sunglasses again. I did think to myself in the first two days could I live with this heat and glare? But after those two days it was not a problem and as I write this blog back in London under a sky covered in cloud, there isn’t anything I miss more.
In one week we managed to visit five different beaches, all with their own individual pros. We swam in the sea and even that was a different experience at each beach, whether it was the
change in the water temperature or just the way the waves moved depending on the tide. The sand was different each time too and the journeys getting to the beaches were just as unique. We walked, we got onto boats and for one, we got a small train which took us across a nature reserve and stopped just at the sand. By the end of the trip it seemed like I’d been on several different holidays at once and this was one of my favourite things about Portugal.
Although my friends hardly had a bad word to say about leaving London, I did think to myself while I was here: would I miss this and would I miss that? As my friends said, friends and family are a given but you make new friends wherever you go and ones that matter will always want to come to visit, even from the UK. I have to admit that most of the people we met, whether English, Portuguese or Spanish, were so friendly and after a few years living in London this was a delight to me.
The choice in the supermarket is much more exciting abroad as there is so much you haven’t tried, while so much of things you already know and love are available too. On the last night we were there, we went for a Chinese and I thought to myself, Chinese in Portugal? But it was the nicest Chinese I’ve ever eaten and with a large choice of restaurants and bars, I was never going to miss the food from back home.
One night when we slightly over did it and needed a bit of a break the next day: we watched DVDs and TV and if it weren’t for the Portuguese sub-titles I would have thought I was resting in the comfort of my own home. The Portuguese subtitles, although easy to ignore, do help you pick up a lot of the language without even noticing and that is only another good thing!
All in all, I am still keen to leave the UK and at present, Portugal is a very high contender for the top spot of places to go. It definitely helps that if you already have good friends there that will make you feel welcome, it makes it easy for me to go back anytime I need to see more and experience as much as I can before making that big decision! Portugal for me was 10/10.