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

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Summer in Portugal – why the Portuguese don’t sleep 4

Posted on August 12, 2013 by Ben Algarve

Summer in Portugal is a wonderful time and particularly so in the Algarve. Entertainment offerings crank up during July until they reach fever pitch in August. For holidaymakers evenings can be spent enjoying relaxed meals sitting outside restaurants, followed by shopping, drinking or dancing for endless hours at a range of venues, local festivals and travelling markets. Days are for tanning by the pool or swimming in the sea of one of the Algarve’s many stunning beaches.

Summer in Portugal - hot sushi and sangria by the sea

Summer in Portugal – hot sushi and sangria by the sea

For those of use who live here, fitting in the countless summer activities around a fulltime work schedule and a calendar of visiting guests can be tricky – and very tiring! In the past couple of weeks we have spent the day at a waterpark, visited a casino, listened to an amazing sunset DJ set, swum in the sea, been out for dinner, danced the night away at the local nightclub and attended numerous BBQs. All while working 8-10 hour days.

With this many activities to pack into the schedule, something has to give. In our case, it’s been sleep that we’ve passed up on in order to fit everything else in. So it was a treat last night to get our first full night of deep sleep in about two weeks – despite the noise from a late night football game in our village.

This week, with a couple of beach visits, a night out with friends and attending the Olhão shellfish festival already on the cards even if nothing else comes up, I suspect we will be straight back to cutting out sleep in order to enjoy everything the summer has to offer.

Summer in Portugal - beautiful bars welcome you at sunset

Summer in Portugal – beautiful bars welcome you at sunset

It’s a routine that has taken us some years to adjust to and we debated yesterday why it is that the Portuguese don’t seem to sleep. Our conclusions, based purely on personal observations since we’ve lived here, are that our Portuguese friends are able seemingly to stay up all night every night during the summer months because:

1)      It’s too hot to sleep, even if you wanted to

2)      There’s so much to do that the frenetic energy of the Algarve continues to pulse through your veins when your own stock of energy runs out

3)      The Algarve is so quiet during the nine non-summer months of the year that everyone enters into a state of semi-hibernation to prepare for the following summer, when they do it all over again

Summer in Portugal - balancing work and play

Summer in Portugal – balancing work and play

After four years, we are beginning to adapt to the routine, with snatched cat-naps here and there giving us the energy for long days of work and even longer evenings and weekends of play. It might be tiring at times, but come October when we are sitting indoors and watching the rain pour down for days on end, we will be glad to know that we squeezed every last drop out of the Portuguese summer.

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The End of The Algarve Summer 1

Posted on October 26, 2011 by Ben Algarve

The Algarve is far from a sunshine paradise right now.

Summer ended with a humdinger of a wind and rainstorm on Sunday night. We were woken up throughout the night by beating rain and gales rattling the shutters. When we got up on Monday morning, the tops of some of our local palm trees had blown clean off, and when my wife stepped out onto the terrace to retrieve our soaking laundry, she ended up ankle-deep in water as debris had managed to block our drainage pipe.

Our home got off far more lightly than Faro airport, where some of the roof was damaged resulting in a number of injuries. Local news reports suggest it may be several months before the damage is fully repaired, but flights seem to now be returning to normal, after some were diverted to Lisbon and Seville earlier in the week.

Faro Airport - No longer looks quite like this

Faro Airport - No longer looks quite like this

To complete the rather depressing moment when we had to pull our warm clothes from the back of the wardrobes, we both came down with coughs and colds – in my case the third round of bugs I have had in a couple of months. Frequent trips back to the UK along with visitors bringing UK germs here with them has resulted in a very irritating run of illness that I will be pleased to see the end of!

With all this in mind, I don’t have an awful lot to tell since my last post, as all we have really done is struggled through our working days, watched TV, eaten a lot of hot curries and breathed plentiful Olbas oil. So for anyone reading this and considering a life in the Algarve, be warned that sometimes it really doesn’t differ all that much from life in the UK!

Image credit: orudge

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Guest Post: Portugal – Definite Contender 0

Posted on July 12, 2010 by Ben Algarve

Algarve Banana Tree

Algarve Banana Tree

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

Approaching Isla de Tavira

Approaching Isla de Tavira

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.

Algarve Summer Sky

Algarve Summer Sky

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.

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