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


Our little bundle of joy 21

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Ben Algarve

(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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Easter Break in Portugal 3

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Ben Algarve

As I type today, I’m looking back on a very enjoyable four day weekend in Portugal. When I started work this morning, I paged back through my calendar out of curiosity, and confirmed it’s the first time we’ve had such a long break since Christmas.

An Easter BBQ in Portugal

An Easter BBQ in Portugal

Now I’m pretty sure that when we moved to Portugal we did so in the hope of an improved work / life balance, but it seems we’ve not quite managed it…I think the problem is that now we’re both self employed, we must take a financial hit for every day we take off work. However, the past weekend has shown us that we should perhaps make more effort to step away from our laptops. Who’d have thought that in our “more simple, more laid back” life, we’d have to wait for a bank holiday to get around to changing lightbulbs?!

With this in mind, our whole routine is about to be shattered beyond recognition anyway, because our baby is now due in just two weeks. Needless to say we are both going through distinct phases of excitement, anticipation and blind panic…

Back in the UK, my mother is due to have an operation this week. She’s been on a waiting list and I had really hoped to be able to fly out to be there with her. Unfortunately, the dates have just lined up at the worst possible time. We’ve lived in Portugal for nearly five years, but nothing until now has made me feel the distance between us and some of our loved ones quite so strongly. I hate the thought of my mum being in hospital in one country while we’re having a baby in a hospital in another country – but there’s nothing we can do about it at this late stage.

All being well, however, I fully intend to get myself over to the UK once mother and baby are settled.

That’s all I really have time for today, by way of a quick update, and I should probably say now that my presence here is likely to be somewhat sporadic over the coming weeks for obvious reasons.

Meanwhile, if you want to read more about life in Portugal, why not buy our book? We can put the royalities towards Junior’s college fund 😉

Have a good week.

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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Seasonally Affected in Portugal 8

Posted on February 19, 2014 by Ben Algarve

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted on Moving to Portugal. I shall be honest and say it’s because I’ve not really found an awful lot to write about.

Until this week, the weather has been decidedly dull, and the simple fact of the matter is that there really isn’t that much to do in the Algarve when the weather is poor. We don’t have cosy country pubs with log fires, or Cafe Neros with big sofas (although we do have far better coffee).

Algarve Weather - nothing to write home about

Algarve Weather – nothing to write home about

With a heavily pregnant wife, choices are restricted further. The popular expat option of steadily drinking until the weather improves is certainly off the table!

Thankfully, the sun has returned this week, and just in the nick of time as I was beginning to feel decidedly down in the dumps. Despite plenty of work AND keeping up to date with my degree course, I was still saying “I’m BORED” like a sulky teenager at least a couple of times each week.

As soon as the sun came out, my mood was transformed. It’s not as if it’s suddenly spring, as the temperatures are struggling to rise much higher than about 15 degrees, but it’s still been enough to encourage me to get out and walk again. On Sunday, I even managed to sit outside and read in a T-shirt – in the suntrap of my balcony it actually felt warm.

Last night, Louise gently reminded me that it’s just 11 weeks until our baby is due. I’ve never known time to both drag and fly in such a contradictory way, but having spoken to other recent parents it seems it’s actually quite normal. Apparently in about 6 months time we will give anything to feel “bored” again.

On the subject of boredom, it’s actually a rather common state of mind amongst expats right now. A couple of weeks ago, there were some satellite changes, resulting in the loss of BBC and ITV channels. Currently, thousands of expats are scrabbling around trying to find ways to get Eastenders back.

UK TV Gone in Portugal

UK TV Gone in Portugal

To be frank, I find it all a bit depressing. When you see how mobilised a group of people can become about a topic, you can’t help but wonder how much GOOD such collective motivation could do if it were pointed at a worthy cause. Sadly, however, that’s not the world we live in. The government raise taxes to pay for their own mistakes? Nobody really minds that much. Huge scandals are uncovered? Nobody makes more than a passing comment…

But take Jeremy Kyle away…well SOMETHING MUST BE DONE! What strange priorities we have.

I do feel for elderly people out here. UK TV was a lifeline for them, and few of the alternative solutions are as easy to use as a Sky box. However, UK TV is not a right for anyone living in Portugal, and was never being offered as a legitimate service anyway. Portugal has TV too, and if a few more people watch it they might start to learn the language of the country they’ve chosen to live in.

I did write an article some time ago about an easy way to get UK TV in Portugal. Here is a link to it.

Having read all that back, I am conscious that it sounds a bit ranty, so I obviously haven’t had quite enough sunshine yet. I will do my best to get more cheerful before I post again!

Whenever you're ready summer

Whenever you’re ready summer

Just before I go, I’ve noticed that this in the 200th post on Moving to Portugal. Working on an average length of 750 words, that means we’ve now written 150,000 words – a good few books worth! If you’ve yet to read Moving to Portugal: The Book, which contains plenty of unique content, please check it out below. If you’re one of the people missing UK TV, it will keep you busy for a few hours 😉

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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Life in Portugal – Spring is in the Air 2

Posted on January 27, 2014 by Ben Algarve

Lou here with a quick update. It seems strange that spring has arrived so fast this year. Christmas and New Year have barely passed and yet this weekend we’ve been enjoying days with temperatures of 20C plus. We’ve fished the sunglasses out from the back of the drawer, braved the outside world while in short sleeves and admired the blossom that has burst into life on the almond trees – one of the sweetest sights and scents that the Algarve has to offer.

Life in Portugal - not long until it's beach time again

Life in Portugal – not long until it’s beach time again

Having grown up in England, it seems strange that winter can have passed so quickly. Even after several years in Portugal it is not something that I am used to. My brain is still full of winter baking recipes to try out in the kitchen and we’ve only just made this year’s batch of chutney, so the sun drawing us inexorably to the beach has presented quite a mix of contradictory feelings.

On the one hand, it’s delightful to be cleaning down the barbecue ready for another long season of lazy weekends spent feasting on local produce. On the other, I’ve got all sorts of winter tasks still to be completed before we switch to our vastly different summer schedule. I can’t really believe I’m admitting it, but another couple of weeks of rain wouldn’t go amiss!

Thankfully, as this is our fifth winter in Portugal, I’m well aware that the first warm weekend of the year doesn’t signal the full on start of spring, but it’s been lovely to have a taster of it nonetheless.

Life in Portugal - spring is well on the way

Life in Portugal – spring is well on the way

Our daily lives in Portugal have settled into a well-balanced schedule over the winter months. Weekdays are spent working, with the odd diversion (after all, what’s the point of being freelance, if you don’t occasionally get to take time off between 9 and 5?); evenings are spent knitting baby clothes (me), trying out new recipes (Ben) and watching films; and weekends are for quiet, local activities.

It’s a routine that suits us for a couple of months each year, while we recover from the hectic pace of summer, but usually by February we are ready for the tourists to begin arriving again and livening up the calm, quiet town that we live in over the winter months.

For those considering starting a new life in Portugal, I would strongly recommend visiting it during all seasons. There can be precious little to do during the winter months in some areas, while others become so packed during the summer that they are unbearably crowded.

Life in Portugal - a winter sunset

Life in Portugal – a winter sunset

It’s one of Portugal’s many contrasts and one that we are still becoming accustomed to. By the end of the summer, we can’t wait for the tourists to go home and give us back the wonderful peace of the winter months. By the end of the winter, we are desperate for the tourists to return and crank up the pace of town life once again.

For the moment, I’ll have to find a way to juggle my brain’s incomplete list of winter tasks with my body’s desire to bask in the sun. I can think of worse dilemmas to have.

If you like the blog, why not try the book?

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

US readers can find it here: Moving to Portugal – the book.

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Pregnancy and Anxiety in Portugal 11

Posted on November 07, 2013 by Ben Algarve

Hello from still very sunny Portugal! Today, I’m not going to offer my normal apology for neglecting the blog, as I have a very good (and happy) excuse: Louise and I are expecting a baby!

As such, we’ve (unsurprisingly) been rather busy. It turns out that getting pregnant in Portugal can be nearly as complicated as getting residency in Portugal. Not the actual getting pregnant part (minds out the gutter please people, this is a family blog).

What I’m talking about is the bureaucracy associated with getting pregnant in Portugal. While we’ve been more than happy with our interaction with the doctors here, getting to actually see them has been another matter entirely.

Baby time!

Baby time!

Getting the relevant paperwork took five visits to the local surgery and well over ten (increasingly exasperated) phone calls. On the bright side, we are now capable of complaining and “putting our foot down” in the Portuguese language to an almost native level!

Having obtained the paperwork, getting the correct dates put on it and the right boxes ticked took another three return visits to the surgery and around five hours of waiting and travel time. Maintaining our self-employed income whilst spending hours in doctor’s waiting rooms is a challenge to say the least.

We are both extremely happy and excited about the news. As our close friends will testify, “it’s taken us long enough.” However, as I’m sure anyone with children will already know, it’s all rather terrifying too.

Hospitals give me the fear

Hospitals give me the fear

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on this blog before, but I suffer badly with medical anxiety, white coat syndrome, or whatever you’d choose to call it. Basically being shit-scared of anything to do with doctors and hospitals is probably the best way to describe it.

Having buried my head comfortably in the sand for nearly 40 years about anything remotely medical, I now find myself reading books that go into a level of detail that causes me frequent dizzy spells. Whilst out walking the other day, I told strong-stomached and stoical Louise about just a couple of the things I’d read, and she had to quickly grab a handrail!

Calming Portuguese Skies!

Calming Portuguese Skies!

We’ve long been decided that we will have our children in Portugal – and we don’t plan to go running back to the comfort of the NHS and our native language. But the reality is far scarier than we imagined. I think we just visualised these cute little suntanned kids running around on a beach effortlessly switching between speaking English and Portuguese – the few years in the middle hadn’t really occurred to us before!

So, it’s been a very happy time, but a very anxious one too. On hearing our news, one of my friends said “wow, he’s got some manning up to do in the next nine months.” I certainly have. But first I think I may go for a little lie down.

PS. Interested in living in Portugal? Why not buy our book? Currently 15% off! Makes a good xmas gift! And we have a baby to pay for!

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: Moving to Portugal – the book.

Image credits: GOVPA, Wikimedia Commons

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Cruising to Madeira 4

Posted on October 15, 2013 by Ben Algarve

(Ben) Every time I post on this blog nowadays I seem to begin with an apology for the length of time between my updates. I guess it’s no bad thing that I’ve got plenty of work to do, with employment being so hard to come by here in Portugal, but I do wish I had a little more blogging time.

Still, while the work keeps coming, I have to keep doing it, so I’m glad I have at least found a quick gap in which to type up this quick update.

Hitting the high seas

Hitting the high seas

I guess it’s technically autumn now here in the Algarve, but you wouldn’t know it with temperatures still frequently in the high 20s. Even so, the evenings are getting a little cooler, and though I’m stubbornly remaining in shorts and flip-flops, my wife is now in jeans by sundown most days!

The tourists seem happy with the weather, and there are still plenty of them around, but we’ve had to accept the end of summer and get back to the grindstone.

However, we have booked ourselves a little holiday! Next month we head off on a cruise to Morocco, Madeira and the Canary Islands. A cruise is something we’ve always wanted to try, even though many of our friends have appeared baffled by our desire to do so!

This time we will see Madeira from the opposite direction

This time we will see Madeira from the opposite direction

We’ve looked into cruising before, but the thing that’s put us off has been that the majority of routes start in Barcelona, which for us involves a drive to Seville, followed by a flight, before we even get to board our ship.

Last week, I discovered a very inexpensive cruise beginning in Malaga, which is much easier as we can get there in the car in around four hours, the last hour of which is through stunning mountain scenery.

So we set off next month and will be calling at Barcelona, Casablanca, Madeira and Lanzarote. Ironically, it’s revisiting the Portuguese island of Madeira that we’re most excited about, but setting foot in Africa for the first time is also rather thrilling.

Somewhere to revisit in Madeira

Somewhere to revisit in Madeira

We’ve clearly taken quite a gamble with a November cruise. The weather will be hit and miss at best, so we’re glad we stocked up on high strength travel sickness pills when we were in the US earlier this year! But ultimately it’s all about having a break from the routine and finding out, once and for all, if cruises are something we enjoy. Given that I’ve always got awfully excited about simple ferry journeys, I think there will be enough to keep me entertained!

And if it’s all a disaster…well, at least then we’ll have some funny stories to tell on this blog when we get back.

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Country Life in Portugal 5

Posted on April 04, 2013 by Ben Algarve

Some months ago my mother asked if Ben and I would house-sit for her and take care of her pets while she spent ten days in England. We agreed without a moment’s thought, eager to sample Portuguese country living. We live in a modern apartment where we are very happy, but had always wondered what life must be like living in the countryside in the middle of nowhere. This week, we have had the chance to find out.

Country life in Portugal - abundant flowers

Country life in Portugal – abundant flowers

My mum’s house sits at the centre of an orange grove. Olives, apples, pears, plums, pomegranates, loquats, grapes and more all grow in amongst the orange trees in a sprawling and largely untamed orchard. Bay trees, which fetch such a high price in England, spring up everywhere the second you turn your back and it is a constant fight to chop them down and compost them before more appear. In the midst of the abundant vegetation, an old stone irrigation tank has been turned into a rustic swimming pool, making an idyllic setting for long summer evenings.

When we arrived with our suitcase last week, ready to begin ‘house sit 2013,’ the first thing I noticed was the intense, mingled scent of jasmine and orange blossom, so strong that the air feels like some kind of flowery, breathable soup. The next thing I registered was a hyperactive kitten leaping out of a clump of poppies to playfully attack an unsuspecting cat that was out for a stroll. And thus the animal antics began.

The kitten looking for her next victim to pounce on

The kitten looking for her next victim to pounce on

Now, when we agreed to house-sit I obviously knew my mum had pets. I also knew that they were all a bit bonkers in their own way. The elderly, pint-sized dog (smaller than all the cats, including the kitten) is completely deaf and a bit incontinent. She is also fond of finding neighbouring dogs ten times her size and yapping ferociously at them. The kitten – the latest addition to the ‘family’ – bolts around the house at hyper-speed, attacking the other pets, the humans and pretty much anything else that takes its fancy. There is a giant cat that seems to be half cat and half panther, both in size and temperament. There are also another three cats, plus one semi-feral cat that gets fed but not let into the house.



Some cats are allowed out of the front door, others out of the back door and some have to remain inside. They all have different amounts of weighed-out food, while the dog is on six different kinds of medication for her ailments. A full three pages of the seven page instruction manual that had been prepared for us was devoted to what and when to feed the pets.

Despite all this preparation by my devoted mother, the first feeding time was a disaster. Before I had even opened the first packet of cat food, the kitten was up on the worktop trying to prise the packet out of my hand with her claws and I earned my first scratch. When I did get the packet open and tried to squeeze the food out into the bowl, she put her head into the packet and ate the cat food as it emerged. Meanwhile a swarm of hungry animals was weaving around my legs, each intent on getting its dinner as soon as possible.

Kitten charging around the worktop at feeding time

Kitten charging around the worktop at feeding time

After distracting the kitten with some biscuits, I was able to get the cat food dished out and give the patient little dog her medicine. While I was doing this, the kitten took advantage of my inattention and ran from bowl to bowl, using her lightning-fast speed to wallop each cat over the head in turn and then grab a chunk of their food while they were distracted. Copious amounts of hissing and clawing ensued. When I tried to intervene and remove the kitten, the giant panther-cat bit my foot. Thankfully I was wearing trainers and survived the incident with all toes intact.

The panther-cat ended up eating the dog’s food. The dog ate the kitten’s food. The medium size cat chased the kitten around the room. Then the panther-cat was sick on the floor. Twice. It was chaos. I ended up going to bed at 2 am, exhausted and wondering if it would be acceptable to call my mother and beg her to come back early.

Divide and rule - panther-cat eating her own food!

Divide and rule – panther-cat eating her own food!

A new ‘divide and rule’ approach the next day helped with feeding time and by the end of our week in the country it had become a precise, military-style operation, with each animal eating its own food out of its own bowl in a separate room of the house, with an airlock style system of closed doors in between them all.

We had planned to spend our days in the countryside relaxing, reading books, barbecuing and perhaps even having a dip in the pool, weather permitting. Sadly the weather not only didn’t permit going in the pool, it pretty much ruled out going outside. When the sun did occasionally peep out from behind the clouds, it was accompanied by winds strong enough to have me chasing the washing around the property from where it had blown off the line. Instead of our anticipated mini-holiday, we spent our days sitting indoors and working.

Country life in Portugal

Country life in Portugal

The silence and solitude of the countryside were both peaceful and a lonely at the same time. During the day I enjoyed hearing nothing more than the bees humming as they pollinated the orange blossom in the orchard, but at night I missed the distant (and somehow reassuring) sound of traffic passing on the EN125. Being able to see the stars so clearly in the night sky was amazing, but having always been quite afraid of the dark (as you can’t see who/what may be creeping up behind you) I also found the outdoors a little spooky. It turns out that in the countryside, as in space, no one can hear you scream.

Having a fabulous array of fruit, vegetables and herbs at our disposal was something we had looked forward to. Unfortunately the rain meant that the ground in the orchard had turned into a bog, so other than grabbing a couple of oranges off the nearest tree we simply stared at the other produce across an ocean of mud before going to the local shop. Still, the herb garden was accessible and we very much enjoyed picking abundant quantities of fragrant goodies and cooking with them in the large, country-style kitchen.

I did enjoy the country kitchen

I did enjoy the country kitchen

With the rain, the snails also came. Going anywhere outside after dusk was a horrible, crunchy walk of death. Even when we used torches somehow the poor snails still found their way under our trainers. After the third night we tended to only go out during daylight hours.

This all sounds rather negative and I certainly don’t mean to dismiss the idea of rural living – the space, scents and solitude were all wonderful at times. I think that it is just that, for me, moving from London to a sleepy seaside village is far enough – a move to the countryside would just be one step too far. Although I’ve always had a distant romantic notion of living in a farmhouse with a brood of children around me, eating my freshly baked cakes smothered in my freshly made jam, while my husband puts his feet up by the open fire, it turns out that actually, at heart, I’m a city girl through and through.


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Winter Life in Portugal – Rainy Days and Mondays 0

Posted on March 07, 2013 by Ben Algarve

Life in Portugal doesn’t always involve sitting on the beach and drinking cocktails, although of course I do try to do that as often as possible (it’s Lou here today, by the way). This week, with high winds and torrential rain, we have hibernated indoors with the heating on full blast.

The miserable weather has given me a chance to spend some time furthering my studies of the Portuguese language, to watch a few movies and to spend some time in the kitchen, the results of which can be seen on our sister blog, Food and Wine Portugal. It has been a chance to regroup and relax in our lovely home.

So much rain, even the plants are suffering

So much rain, even the plants are suffering

However, a full week of this weather has led me to reflect on a fact often overlooked by holidaymakers and those considering moving to Portugal – there is really very little to do here when the weather is bad.

Once you have exhausted the shopping centres and worked your way through the cinema listings, the Algarve quickly runs out of bad-weather attractions. Strolling around pretty little towns, lazing on the beach and sitting outside a café for a coffee are all activities that quickly lose their appeal when it’s pouring with rain. The result has been – in our village at least – that locals have either stayed indoors or flocked to the village’s bars, seemingly content to simply sit and drink until the sun comes out.

Winter life in Portugal - the beach isn't so inviting in the rain

Winter life in Portugal – the beach isn’t so inviting in the rain

Thankfully we both work fulltime, so the bad weather hasn’t had the chance to lead to too much boredom. Once you add in the usual domestic chores, which sadly don’t go away when you move to another country, the day fills up pretty quickly. So for the moment it’s a case of battening down the hatches, working hard and saving up for the dreaded annual Portuguese tax bill. Still, it will all be worth it once the sun finally comes out again and we can begin to enjoy all the wonderful activities that summer life in Portugal has to offer.

Image credits: Wikimedia

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Back in the Algarve 3

Posted on October 19, 2011 by Ben Algarve

As I write, I can see that it has been a full two weeks since I last posted here, and for that I apologize. It’s been a busy time. We spent the last week in the UK where we saw some friends and family, did some work, and, in my case, had a tooth extracted.

It was a bit of a whirlwind like every trip “back,” helped somewhat on this occasion by the fact we flew with British Airways. We choose our flights based primarily on lowest price and it just turned out that BA was cheaper on this occasion. Compared to our usual budget airline experience, which seems to bring out the worst in every passenger, it seemed so much more civilized. From the generous baggage allowance to the online check-in and seat allocation, the journey just seemed less of a chore than normal, and the floppy egg mayo sandwiches even sated my wife’s strange fondness for crappy airline food. Now their employees seem to have got their fondness for striking and worker militancy out of their systems, we will be sure to check their prices on each trip back.

A Civilised Flight to Portugal

A Civilised Flight to Portugal

Anyway, one of the reasons I have been absent from the blog for a couple of weeks is that I have been involved with a number of other writing assignments recently, which I am now going to proceed to plug shamelessly! All of these articles contain useful information about Portugal, so should hopefully be of interest and make up for my “content-free” fortnight!

First off, I have an article in this month’s (October) issue of “A Place in the Sun” magazine, exploring some of the more unspoiled areas of the East Algarve. You can get it in all good UK newsagents.

I have also produced an “Insiders Guide to Portugal” feature for Cheap Flights, a US company selling airline tickets.

Finally, I have taken on a weekly writing role for the Overseas Guides Company where I produce a regular newsletter about life in Portugal and issues related to buying a property here. The content of the newsletter is updated every Friday and can be found here.

Find me at OGC for Portugal

Find me at OGC for Portugal

Now I’ve drawn your attention to lots more info about Portugal, I would like to quickly mention a situation that is developing over at the Expats Portugal forum. As many readers here probably know, Expats Portugal is a very popular site and a huge source of support and information both for prospective expats and those of us already living here.

Basically, the forum has ended up involved in legal action as the result of a post last year that contained a discussion about a property company. The company in question (who I won’t name here) took exception to the thread and it has all got unnecessarily unpleasant.

It is horrible to see something like this happen, as many people benefit from these forums, and as someone who knows websites personally, I can confirm that the financial rewards are rarely in proportion to the level of effort involved in maintaining such a site. If the forum has helped you, please take a look at this thread, and make a donation if you are able.

Expats Portugal - A Valuable Resource

Expats Portugal – A Valuable Resource

That’s about it for today, as every time we return after a week in England, the house seems to have got dirty all by itself and there is never any food in the cupboards, so more next week. If you want more to read about Portugal in the meantime, I highly recommend this guide to Buying Property in Portugal. If you look carefully, you’ll find the bit that I wrote inside! Have a good week!

Buying Property in Portugal (second edition) – insider tips for buying, selling and renting

Image Credit: Deanster1983

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Facts About Portugal 15

Posted on October 03, 2011 by Ben Algarve

It’s trivia time this week on Moving to Portugal. We’ve just come to the end of a long run of different guests staying with us, and this morning I was reflecting on some of the little bits of information about life in Portugal that sometimes come out in conversation, and are a surprise to those who haven’t been here before. So, here we have a light-hearted list of ten things not everybody knows about life in Portugal.

1. There is a reason why people often spend what seems like an unusually long time at the cash machine. The Portuguese Multibanco system is highly sophisticated, and allows you do to all kinds of things. Want to go fishing? Buy your license at the ATM. Need to pay your tax bill? Use the reference number on the bill, and pay it directly from your account using your cash machine (a quite scary task when thousands of euros disappear instantly from your account…. you will definitely want to double check that reference number). Want to book a seat on the train to Lisbon? Yep, you do it with Multibanco. With this in mind, try not to get impatient in the queue for the cash machine!

Portugal Multibanco Machine

Portugal Multibanco Machine

2. There is a nominal fee made in Portugal for a TV license. It is charged automatically on your electricity bill.

3. Petrol is even more expensive in Portugal than it is the UK.

4. So are cars. Due to the ways cars are taxed here, they are a LOT more expensive. On the bright side, the climate down here in the Algarve means they are less likely to rust.

5. When, after a meal, you appear to have become invisible to the waiter as soon as you have been served your coffees, it doesn’t mean standards of service have suddenly dropped. Here in Portugal, people often sit for some time after finishing a meal. On one occasion, I even saw someone place head on table and have a short nap before leaving. We don’t have a table-turning culture. Just ask for the bill as and when you are ready to leave.

6. Shopping centres here universally stay open until 11pm, even on a Sunday.

Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa

7. Portuguese people typically revere literary figures at least as highly as famous musicians and sports stars. In an increasingly dumbed-down, X-Factor loving world, this is a wonderful thing.

8. It is unclear why there is a nationwide shortage of all euro coins in Portugal, but there is. Prepare for wrath if you intend to pay for a 2.08€ grocery transaction with a note and you don’t have the 8 cents. Once you’re known in your local town you may be sent on your way with your goods and asked to come back tomorrow with the right change!

Portugal - Where are the Euro Coins?

Portugal - Where are the Euro Coins?

9. When eating, it is customary to keep your napkin to the left of your plate, and not on your lap. I’m not sure why this is, but it is practical. Constantly reaching down for a napkin below the table results in sardiney fingers making clothing smell unpleasant.

10. It can get cold here in winter. Really bloody cold. Without central heating, it can feel colder than the UK. People never believe this, but those of us that live here don’t just say it for a laugh. People who have actually visited us during the winter know this to be true, but, for some strange reason, May and September always seem to be “the popular months” for most!

So, I’ve thought of the first ten. Can any Portuguese residents think of more? If so, please comment below.

PS. Anyone wishing to become familiar with Portugal’s literary output would do well to begin here:

The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Modern Classics)

Image credits: anabananasplit starrynight1 FreeFoto

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