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

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Our little bundle of joy 21

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

(Lou) Living in Portugal was our dream for several years before we moved here. We fell in love with the country the first time we visited it and it was on that holiday that as we lazed on the beach, idly watching a man build sand castles with his little daughter, we decided that we didn’t want to bring our children up in London.

The decision was a significant one – we were still years from getting married and having a family, but it signalled the beginning of the end of our love affair with London. From that point forward, the idea of raising our children within walking distance of a sun-kissed seashore was planted firmly in both our minds.

Living in Portugal - sun-kissed sands

Living in Portugal – sun-kissed sands

After several years of planning, saving and working towards our dream, we finally moved to Portugal. The move was over four years ago now and, though at times living here has been stressful (mainly when completing paperwork and dealing with bureaucracy), we have no regrets about leaving the UK far behind.

We have embraced the Portuguese way of life and it has changed us both since we have lived here, though perhaps not in the ways we would have expected before we left England. One constant since our move has been our certainty that Portugal is the place where we want to raise a family. Children are cherished here – a toddler ambling around a restaurant will receive pats on the head from the waiters and smiles from the diners, rather than the annoyed looks that the same scenario would produce in a London eatery.

Living in Portugal - a new arrival

Living in Portugal – a new arrival

We thought for a while that our dream of having a family in Portugal was one that wasn’t going to come true for us. I was actually booked in for an appointment to find out why we were struggling to conceive when we found out that we were expecting. Since then, our life has been a whirlwind of preparation, from spending endless hours waiting for doctors’ appointments, to creating the perfect nursery, to knitting countless tiny jumpers in preparation for the cold winter months.

Two and a half weeks ago, by which time I was the size of a whale, we had lunch with friends at the beautiful and relatively secluded beach of Lota in the eastern Algarve. We visited relatives in the afternoon and then headed home via the supermarket. It turned out to be our last day doing things as a couple, as shortly after we arrived home my body suddenly announced that it was time to head to the hospital.

Living in Portugal - tiny toes

Living in Portugal – tiny toes

Some twelve hours later, our tiny bundle of joy arrived via an emergency Caesarean section, filling us both with a happiness so intense we never knew it was possible.

The last two and a half weeks have been the most wonderful and emotional or our lives. We have been truly touched by the kindness of all those around us, from family and friends to the hospital staff and our next door neighbours. We have been overwhelmed by the amount of new things there are to learn (it turns out that winding a new-born baby who likes to wriggle a lot is harder than it looks in a book). Most of all, we have been amazed that we have managed to produce such a beautiful and perfect little boy, who has filled our hearts with love and our lives with joy.

Welcome to the world Frederico :-)

Living in Portugal - welcome to the world

Living in Portugal – welcome to the world

If you would like to know more about our adventures while living in Portugal, please feel free to check out our book:

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same
US Readers will find it here.

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Holidays in Portugal – Aldeia da Pedralva 2

Posted on May 21, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

It’s sometimes hard to convince friends that just because we live in a holiday destination it doesn’t mean we are on holiday all the time (it’s Lou here, by the way). We still have to work, pay bills, go to the supermarket and complete all those household chores which are a part of daily life. So a couple of weeks ago we decided to take a break and go on an actual holiday in Portugal, to the idyllic Aldeia da Pedralva.

Holidays in Portugal - Aldeia da Pedralva

Holidays in Portugal – Aldeia da Pedralva

Aldeia da Pedralva is a tourist resort located approximately halfway between Vila do Bispo and Bordeira, on the Costa Vicentina area of Portugal’s west coast. Popular with surfers, the west coast is more wild and unspoiled than the beaches on Portugal’s south coast, so we were excited to be exploring a different part of Portugal than we are used to.

Aldeia da Pedralva has an interesting history. It was an almost entirely abandoned village when the owners first discovered it. They spent two years gradually purchasing the dilapidated houses and another two years renovating them. The sympathetic renovation work was designed to maintain a traditional Portuguese village feel, complete with winding cobbled streets, mismatched house sizes and white-painted walls. The atmosphere is one of tranquil relaxation – often the only sounds we could hear were the birds singing and the tinkling of the sheep bells as a small flock grazed on the village’s grassland.

Cobbled, winding streets

Cobbled, winding streets

The houses themselves are a delight. Each one is different and has its own character and charm. We stayed in a one-bedroom house with delightful views over the open, hilly countryside, which is dotted with trees and flowers as far as the eye can see. Our house was quaint and rustic, yet spotlessly clean and with all the facilities we needed for a weekend away. It had a small yet perfectly adequate kitchen and a good-sized living space, as well as a large bedroom with an extremely comfortable bed. The bathroom was particularly charming, with a stone-walled shower very much in keeping with the whole feel of the village.

Unique houses in a tranquil setting

Unique houses in a tranquil setting

Aldeia da Pedralva is designed as a base for active holidays, yet it also makes a wonderful, peaceful retreat for those looking to escape modern life. WiFi is only available in the reception area, which was at once refreshing and a little unnerving (I am a massive iPhone addict). There are no televisions or radios in the houses. The emphasis is on enjoying the wonders that nature has to offer, along with fresh, clean country air and good food.

Quaint touches abound

Quaint touches abound

There are two restaurants in the village, which I will review in detail on our sister blog Food and Wine Portugal, but suffice it to say here that the food in both was excellent and the service extremely friendly. Both are worth a visit on their own merits and we will definitely eat at them again next time we are in the area, even if we are not staying at the village. Breakfast was also included in our stay and consisted of a good continental spread, along with gallons of coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice (so fresh that it was actually squeezed in front of us).

The pretty blue house

The pretty blue house

We spent our weekend at Aldeia da Pedralva exploring some of the west coast, as it is an area with which we are largely unfamiliar. Driving through the winding hills, we visited a number of windswept beaches, splashing around in the huge Atlantic waves coming rolling in. The highlight had to be the beautiful Praia do Monte Clérigo, where we lazed about in the sun for several hours, treating ourselves to a drink and a cake from the (horrendously overpriced) local café.

The rugged west coast

The rugged west coast

Praia da Amoreira, a stunning and desolate beach accessed by driving down a mountain, also deserves a mention. The scenic drive makes a wonderful approach to the sands, while the beach is backed by flower-covered dunes which are host to a variety of wildlife.

Overall it was a delightful weekend. We came away feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, which is exactly how a holiday is supposed to leave you feeling. The combination of the local attractions and the village itself, with its hidden nooks and crannies for curling up with a book in the sun, makes the perfect break – it’s definitely somewhere we will be heading back to next time we take a mini holiday in Portugal to escape the stresses of modern life.

Beautiful countryside

Beautiful countryside

In the interests of full disclosure we were invited to spend the weekend at this resort. However, be assured that all views are our own and that our opinions cannot be bought!

If you enjoy reading the blog and want to hear more about how our life has changed since moving abroad, why not check out our book: 

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

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Turning tax into charitable donations 4

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

After getting over the shock of the size of our latest Portuguese tax bill, I was excited to read in the Portugal News recently that it is possible to pay less tax in Portugal. Well, not less tax as such, but less to the tax man. The concept is a simple one – you complete your annual tax return and tick a box stating that you wish to give 0.5% of the total to a charity or religious institution.

Tax

I got straight on the phone to our accountant who confirmed that it really was that easy. Once the relevant box was ticked, all we had to do was pick an organisation from the authorised list. That was it. It may have been the first time I felt good about having to pay a tax bill!

According to Paulo Alves, who is campaigning to raise awareness of the scheme, €7.14 million was donated to charitable and religious institutions in this way from the 2011 tax year, with 900 organisations applying to receive donations. This year, the number of organisations applying has doubled, as the scheme grows in popularity.

With 4.9 million tax declarations submitted for the 2011 Portuguese financial year, it seems that awareness amongst the tax-paying public certainly needs to be raised. The scheme provides a means of giving to charity without individuals paying out any more than they would have done anyway – the cash is essentially just re-routed to good causes.

Charity tin

If you want to know more about the scheme and take part to benefit one of Portugal’s charities, just ask your accountant when completing your Portuguese tax return and choose the organisation that you would like to donate 0.5% of your bill to. It’s a simple gesture, but the more people that do it, the bigger the difference we can all make.

Want to learn about our early years in Portugal? Please check out our book:

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same
Image credits: Flickr

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How to Speak Portuguese – Lou’s Ten Portuguese Language Cheats 13

Posted on March 21, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Life in Portugal can be tricky enough when you’re trying to negotiate the endless paperwork or identify strange looking cuts of meat in the butcher’s, let alone when you try and work out how to speak Portuguese.

How to speak Portuguese - be prepared to study hard

How to speak Portuguese – be prepared to study hard

The difficulty with learning Portuguese is that what you say and hear doesn’t seem to correspond much with the written language, especially when you live in the Algarve where people have a heavy accent. With accents peppering the words and changing both the sound and the emphasis, Portuguese is a hard language to master. We have been here for nearly 3.5 years now and are still nowhere near fluent, although I do feel that we are learning more every day. In our case it doesn’t help that we both work from home, rather than having jobs where we spend all day with people speaking Portuguese.

If you are moving to Portugal soon or even just holidaying here, here are my top ten (tongue-in-cheek) Portuguese language cheats that will hopefully help you out.

Speak fast

When you are uncertain of what you are saying in another language, it is natural to speak slowly and try to say each word perfectly. If you do this in Portugal, you may well be met with a blank look. Instead, speak as fast as you can, pretending that you are speaking flawless Portuguese. You will have a much better chance of being understood.

Uma imperial

Uma imperial

A beer please!

‘Uma imperial se faz favour.’

This means ‘a small beer please.’ In most bars you will get a lovely, small glass of beer. Given how hot the Portuguese summer is, ordering a succession of small beers means you don’t end up drinking the too-warm second half of a pint. In some touristy areas, even if you ask for an imperial you will be given a pint (‘uma caneca’) anyway, so that the bar can charge you more.

This phrase is often usefully followed by ‘mais uma, se faz favor’ – ‘one more please!’

Obrigado/obrigada

To say ‘thank you’ in Portuguese, men say ‘obrigado’ and women say ‘obrigada.’ The gender of the person to whom you are speaking does not matter. This is FACT, even though some Portuguese people will try to tell you that’s not how it works.

Can to be this

‘Pode ser isto’ – the literal translation is ‘can to be this,’ but this rather awkward phrase is actually used to mean ‘can I have this,’ so you can use it in shops, cafés, restaurants and anywhere else where you are able to point to the item that you desire.

Pode ser isto - useful for buying all kinds of things

Pode ser isto – useful for buying all kinds of things

If in doubt, smile and nod

When we first moved here, even basic interactions could be a struggle, despite six months of me obsessively playing Portuguese language CDs in the car anytime I drove anywhere before we left England.

There were many times when neighbours, shop assistants and others that I interacted with tried to make pleasant conversation about the weather, football or other random subjects. At first I would freeze in such situations, looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights while my fellow conversationalist painstakingly repeated the sentence in a futile attempt to make me understand. The result was usually an awkward silence while I blushed and felt stupid.

These early struggles allowed me to develop the smile and nod policy. Now when someone speaks to me and I don’t understand them, I don’t panic, I just smile and nod. Astonishingly, 90% of the time this is accepted as an appropriate and satisfactory response on my part. Although I still have no idea what has been said to me, instead of just feeling tongue-tied and stupid, I use my nodding time to replay the sentence in my mind and try to catch the key words that will make it all become clear.

Of course, this policy is far from fail-safe and it is absolutely not to be used when dealing with government officials, lawyers or anyone else where you could be agreeing to something serious without realising it!

Instantly get rid of excess waiters!

Instantly get rid of excess waiters!

Warding off additional waiters

‘Já pedi’ – this means ‘already asked,’ and is a handy phrase for using in bars or cafés where you have already ordered but you spy a second waiter approaching with a notepad and an eager look in his eye.

Write it down

If you need to deal with officials in Portugal who don’t speak English, it’s often helpful to write down your request and take it with you on a piece of paper. That way if you bungle the pronunciation and they look confused, you can just hand over your pre-written request and – provided your handwriting is neat – be understood.

This approach was essential when we were trying to obtain our atestado document to prove that we lived in our village and had to ask two local residents to sign our form (apparently in the village council’s eyes the rental agreement for our apartment was not sufficient proof that we lived there).

I’ve also successfully used this method the first time I ordered a large takeaway and the first time we had to exchange our empty gas bottle – knowing that my grasp of Portuguese was at the time insufficient for these (now mundane) conversations, I took along my trusty piece of paper, which on both occasions saved the day.

Write it down

Write it down

After-dinner conversation

‘A conta, se faz favor.’

In Portugal you are welcome to sit and relax once you have finished your meal in a restaurant. You can enjoy the company of your friends or family and engage in after-dinner conversation, without the staff desperately trying to get you out of the door so that they can turn the table. This is part of what makes dining in Portugal such a pleasant experience. However, for those ready to pay and leave, it can be a little frustrating. If that’s you, use this phrase, which means ‘the bill, please.’ Of course you could also use the internationally recognised mime of writing on your hand!

Have a glass of wine

It’s astonishing how much more confident a glass of wine can make your attempts to speak Portuguese. After three glasses I’m unfailingly convinced that I’m fluent, much to the dismay of my Portuguese friends.

Confidence in a glass!

Confidence in a glass!

And if all else fails…

‘Desculpe, não entendo.’

If all else fails, you can resort to this phrase, which means ‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand.’
Our efforts to speak Portuguese have been overwhelmingly well received. Even when we get in a muddle and mispronounce things or say something silly, the fact that we have tried always goes down well. Even if you have no plans to work out the full intricacies of how to speak Portuguese, a few choice phrases will ensure you stand out and earn you service with a smile wherever you go.
Boa sorte!

If you want to hear more about our adventures with the Portuguese language, why not check out our book: Moving to Portugal

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr

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Moving Abroad – Quality of Life 0

Posted on January 21, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Moving abroad is something that everyone does for their own personal reasons. For us, quality of life and better weather were two key reasons behind our decision to move to Portugal (it’s Lou here, by the way).

While sunshine and high temperatures aren’t guaranteed in Portugal in the winter, it’s fair to say that overall the weather here is a vast improvement on that in England. We’ve had a wonderful December, full of bright, sunny days, albeit turning cold the moment the sun goes down. January has been more of a mixed bag, with rain showers and cloudy days reminding us that it is still winter after all. This weekend, high winds have deterred us from venturing too far, so we’ve made the most of relaxing and appreciating the quiet life of the Algarve.

Moving abroad - where will your journey lead you?

Moving abroad – where will your journey lead you?

After a wonderful meal of fresh fish at Vela 2 in Santa Margarida on Friday night, we battened down the hatches and spent the weekend indoors, hiding from the wind. Although some chores did intrude on our relaxation (our oven is now sparklingly clean!) I was able to indulge in some Portuguese cooking, finish knitting two scarves that I started before Christmas and bake banana bread with a chocolate spread centre.

One of the things that I love about the Algarve in winter – and the reason I can relax so thoroughly when the weather is bad – is that there simply isn’t that much to do here when it’s not sunny. In our local area, poor weather means that our choices are limited to the cinema or shopping. Although there are occasions when we do yearn for a little more, it generally means that we can spend the winter months hibernating and relaxing, saving up our energy for the frenetic life of Portuguese summertime.

Moving abroad - a new dawn

Moving abroad – a new dawn

Of course winter doesn’t mean that we don’t have to work. Come rain or shine, my working day begins at 8.30 am. On days like today, when I have a huge ‘to do’ list, the day began even earlier. I got up and opened the shutters to see what the day was like, only to realise that it was still dark. It came as quite a surprise – my lack of a commute to work means that those weeks on end of getting up while it’s still dark (and getting home while it’s dark) during the English winter are a thing of the past. It’s something that I have almost, after more than three years in Portugal, come to take for granted.

This morning served as a wonderful reminder of how much our quality of life has improved, in subtle ways as well as obvious ones. We still have to deal with the pressures of work and the endless chores and trips to the supermarket, but we’re more relaxed while we’re doing it now. Instead of a hellish commute to work through London traffic in the dark, I drank my tea this morning while typing and watching the sun come up over our balcony. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer start to the week – it reminded me all over again how lucky we are to be living in Portugal and how much our life has improved since moving abroad.

Want to hear more about how our life has changed since moving abroad? Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same reveals it all.

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Driving in Europe – Portugal 2

Posted on January 17, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Driving in Europe can be a scary experience for those not used to it. For a start, the cars are all on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Different countries have different rules, regulations and toll systems and some of them take quite a bit of working out. Here are a few helpful tips to make your driving experience in Portugal a little less stressful, so that you can enjoy your time here more.

Driving in Europe - Portugal's roads

Driving in Europe – Portugal’s roads

General advice

It seems as though half of the drivers in Portugal are patient and courteous, particularly in small towns. You can stop in a street to let someone into or out of the car and people will wait patiently behind you for a minute or so without beeping. The other half of the drivers here seem to be in a desperate hurry to get wherever they are going and will happily overtake at high speed on blind bends.

The EN125, which runs the length of the Algarve, has long been hailed as one of the most dangerous roads in Europe – it was once known as the ‘road of death.’ I have been overtaken dangerously on it on many occasions since living here, by cars, vans and even a coach. On the most notable occasion, a car overtook me directly into oncoming traffic, despite the fact that I was already driving at the speed limit. Both I and the oncoming car had to swerve hard to avoid a nasty collision. Keep your wits about you when using this road.

One thing that can seem unnerving when driving in Portugal is how closely cars will drive behind you. The concept of leaving a safe braking distance is not something that seems to be cherished here. Drivers will happily sit so closely behind you that they appear to be mere inches from your back bumper. It can be unsettling when a car does this and terrifying when an HGV does it, but it’s not intended to intimidate – it’s just the way things are done here.

Remember to drive on the right

Remember to drive on the right

Licences and insurance

You can drive in Portugal with a driving licence from an EU country. If you have a non-EU licence then you may need an international driving licence before you can legally drive here. If you are bringing your own car, make sure you have insurance that covers you to drive in Portugal (and any other countries you might drive through to get here). If you’re hiring a car, I would highly recommend purchasing as much insurance as is available through your hire car company. Both us and our guests have had mishaps in hire cars that would have been costly had we not purchased the additional insurance options available.

Be sure to carry your licence, vehicle registration documents, passport, insurance documents and any rental agreement in your car whenever you drive. Older style (green) UK licences are valid, but the AA recommends voluntarily upgrading to the newer photocard licence before you drive in Portugal, as these are more widely understood and accepted.

Driving in Portugal is a wonderful way to explore the country

Driving in Portugal is a wonderful way to explore the country

If you’ve moved to Portugal and are driving on a UK driving licence, you need to present yourself to the authorities and register your licence to your Portuguese address within 30 days of obtaining your Portuguese residency certificate. This is done at the IMTT, which is Portugal’s equivalent of the DVLA (well, sort of – the IMTT’s remit is actually wider than that of the DVLA). The IMTT’s website includes a list of its locations, so you can find the one nearest to you. (The site can be viewed in English, but is limited to three pages – if you want to see the rest of it you will need to view the Portuguese version.)

It is important to ensure that you visit the IMTT and fill out your paperwork within the required time. It is a requirement to do so under Portuguese law and you can be fined if you don’t do it. It also avoids the problem of you living at an address which is different from that on your UK licence, which is an offence in England. Once you have the completed form from the IMTT confirming your Portuguese address, keep it with your driving licence at all times.

It is possible for residents to exchange their UK licence for a Portuguese one should they wish. This is done at the IMTT as well.

 

Speed limits

Although there are obviously variations across Portugal, speed limits are generally 120 km/h on motorways, 90 km/h on main roads and 50 km/h in towns.

 

Drinking and driving

The permissible alcohol limit in Portugal is lower than in the UK, at 0.5 mg per ml (or 0.05%). This is so low that the best advice is simply not to drink at all if you will be driving. Penalties for drink driving can be harsh. Despite this, drink driving is still in evidence in many parts of the country, particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. A national campaign is underway in order to try and stamp out this practice. 

Driving in Europe - drinking and driving

Driving in Europe – know your limits

Tolls

Portugal has a number of toll roads, which are in good condition and generally quiet and pleasant to cruise along. Most have two payment systems – cash/cards or an electronic transponder that fits on the inside of your windscreen. The transponder can help you to beat the queues at the tolls, as there is generally less traffic in that lane than in the cash lanes.

A number of toll roads operate an electronic toll system, so have no cash booths. To travel on these roads, you need to comply with the payment requirements of the company that manages the road. A good summary of these is available on the Visit Portugal website.

Toll charges can be quite expensive. It costs around €10 to drive from the western end of the Algarve to Spain and about €20 to drive from the Algarve to Lisbon. With petrol being expensive in Portugal, driving excursions can end up costing quite a lot with the tolls added in, but if you’ve tried the bumpy alternatives to the motorways for any long distance, I’m sure you’ll agree the cost of the tolls is well worth it.

I will refrain from joining in any debate regarding the implementation of tolls on the Algarve’s A22 motorway. There’s plenty online about it if you are interested!

Driving in Europe - vehicle requirements vary from country to country

Driving in Europe – vehicle requirements vary from country to country

Vehicle requirements

As well as the standard requirements of ensuring your vehicle is roadworthy and so forth, Portugal requires you to carry a number of items in your car. These include a high visibility jacket (which must be accessible without you having to leave the vehicle), a spare set of bulbs and a reflective warning triangle. It is compulsory to use your high visibility jacket and warning triangle in the event of an accident or breakdown.

Having a First Aid kit in the car is suggested, but not compulsory. It is also recommended that you carry a spare pair of glasses with you while driving. Having lost my sole pair of glasses in the sea while on holiday in Spain, I can attest to the sense of this advice!

 

Child safety

Children shorter than 1.50m and under 12 years old must travel in the back of the vehicle and use a restraint system appropriate to their age/size. Children under three years old can travel in the front seat if an appropriate restraint system is used. Please note that if the restraint system involves a rear-facing seat, the airbag must be switched off.

 

Driving age

You have to be 18 to drive in Portugal. Although in the UK you can legally drive from age 17, and you can drive in Portugal on a UK licence, you might have a hard time explaining that (in Portuguese) if you are pulled over for any reason. It may be best to wait until you are 18 before driving in Portugal on a UK licence.

Parking on roundabouts is not permitted

Parking on roundabouts is not permitted

Parking

You will often see Portuguese vehicles, including lorries and coaches, parked on roundabouts. I am unclear as to why this is. It is not legal and you should not do it!

 

Dealing with the police

If you are pulled over while driving for any reason, be polite and respectful when dealing with the authorities. If you are fined for anything, the payment must be made immediately, either in cash or using the portable credit card machine that most police cars carry. If you refuse to pay, the police can take your driving licence and registration document. They should give you a receipt for these and tell you where and when you can collect them. If you refuse to hand over your documents, the police have the power to confiscate your vehicle.

 

Headlights

It is compulsory to use your headlights at night, when driving in tunnels, and in poor visibility during the day. Non-compliance with this may result in a fine.

Driving in Europe - know when to use your headlights or you could face a fine

Driving in Europe – know when to use your headlights or you could face a fine

Seat belts

It is compulsory for all passengers to wear seatbelts and it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that they do. If you are pulled over and one or more passengers is not wearing a seatbelt, it is the driver who will pay the fine.

Although the above is correct at time of writing, please note that rules and regulations do change from time to time, so be sure you have the latest information to hand before driving in Europe. Safe travels :-)

 

For more helpful hints and advice on all things Portuguese, why not check out our book: Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

Image credits: Pixabay, Fotopedia, Dennis Mojado

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Living Abroad – a New Start 4

Posted on January 07, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Hi, it’s Louise here with my first Moving to Portugal post. Happy New Year to you all :-)

There’s a feeling of Spring in the air today – a feeling of fresh starts. As I sipped my morning tea on the balcony, the sun seemed a little warmer, the birdsong a little louder. Perhaps it’s that I’m adjusting to my new freelance lifestyle, but something about being outside this morning took me back to when we first moved to Portugal – to a time of uncertainty over the future, but one full of excitement, hope and possibility. A new start, in a new country.

Living abroad - winter sands

Living abroad – winter sands

I noticed it yesterday too. We went for a quick stroll along the beach to build up an appetite for dinner. On the way, I noticed blossom on the trees beside the road. At the beach, I was captivated by the view, the sound of the sea and the countless tracks of little bird-prints crisscrossing the sand.

When you’ve been living abroad for a while, it can be easy to forget to take time to stand and stare. Real life gets in the way – the apartment needs cleaning, the shopping needs to be done or the endless paperwork needs yet more attention. Yesterday though, we ignored it all and went to the beach, reminding ourselves of why we moved here in the first place.

I love Portugal’s beaches at this time of year. They stretch for miles with only a few people in sight, mostly locals looking to catch something for dinner. The waves shimmer in the sun and in the late afternoon the shore turns pink as the day begins to fade. A stroll along the beach feels therapeutic and the sand and sea stretching into the distance provide space to think.

Living abroad - January beaches

Living abroad – January beaches

I have a tricky year ahead. Unlike my husband, I’ve always worked ‘for the man’ and right now the vast possibilities of working freelance feel a little overwhelming. I need to change my mind-set and embrace uncertainty, something I’ve never been particularly good at. It’s an exciting time, of course, but also an anxious one. Still, as I stood on the balcony breathing in the scents and sounds of Spring, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather be in order to face it.

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

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An Award for Moving to Portugal 4

Posted on January 10, 2012 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

It’s always nice to start the year with an award and I am happy to announce that Moving to Portugal has been awarded with an ABC award from the Thought Palette site. ABC means “Awesome Blog Content!” I am always flattered when people enjoy the blog and it makes the hours dedicated to it seem worthwhile.

As part of the ABC theme, Alyson from Thought Palette suggests the winners create their own “ABC” post about themselves. The idea seemed rather fun to me, so here’s mine!

Apple Mac

Beach

Contradictionary

Distracted

Evolving

Floating

Generosity

Happy

Impatient

Jager

Kitchen

Laid-back

Milkshake

Nervy

Open

Paradise Garage

Quasi-religious

Rocha

Sunshine

Thankful

Unfit

Variable

Wine

eXpectant

Young at heart

Zantac

So there you have it – I may have revealed a few things you didn’t know about me!

That’s it for this week, but if you want to read more I am continuing my theme of “at this time in…..” At this time in 2011 I looked back over the time since I moved here and provided links back to some vintage posts about the time before we moved to Portugal and our initial arrival. It’s a great starting point for those who haven’t been reading the blog for long. You can find the “Living in Portugal – a recap” post here.

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    • Living in Portugal: Our New Home

      Living in Portugal: Our New Home

      (Ben) Just as we approach our five-year anniversary of living in Portugal, we have finally completed the move to our new home. This weekend was hard work, and not helped… Read More »
    • Portugal versus Spain

      Portugal versus Spain

      (Lou) In my professional capacity I often come across couples who, like Ben and I, have decided that life is not limited to the UK simply because that was where… Read More »
    • Moving House in Portugal

      Moving House in Portugal

      It’s a well-known theory that moving house is “one of the most stressful things you can do.” I’m not convinced I buy into the theory, as I can think of… Read More »
    • East Algarve Paradise – Fábrica

      East Algarve Paradise – Fábrica

      When you’ve lived in the same location for several years, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and continue to visit the same places. Often this is because you’ve… Read More »
    • Moving to Portugal Book Sale: One Week!

      Moving to Portugal Book Sale: One Week!

      So, it’s September, the kids are back at school and the summer is drawing to a close. [caption id="attachment_2154" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Back to school[/caption] It can be a rather depressing… Read More »
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