We may earn commission from companies mentioned on this blog, however our praise cannot be bought!
Even though we’ve now lived in Portugal for around four years, we still keep discovering new things, especially relating to customs and culture.
As our recent blog survey revealed that people like hearing about cultural differences, so in today’s light-hearted (and affectionately intended) post, I’m going to discuss five quite random things that I’ve learned about the country recently. These are the kind of things you probably wouldn’t find out during a holiday in Portugal, so may therefore come as a surprise.
Nearly all restaurants do take-out
This is something my wife and I have only recently discovered. Nearly all the restaurants in our local area have a ready supply of takeaway containers and will happily prepare anything on the menu for takeaway.
This is pretty life changing really, but also quite expensive as there’s rarely a discount involved. However, as Portuguese food portions are so large, we often share a main dish, which redresses the balance.
We took restaurant take-out to the ultimate level a couple of weeks ago, when we brought home a full fried breakfast from one of our favourite local hostelries to stave off a particularly stubborn hangover – at 6pm. This was the ultimate in decadence.
Portuguese people always know their place in the queue
A Portuguese queue differs substantially from its British equivalent. A queue in Portugal is more of a disorganized huddle, with multiple lines and entry points.
Don’t be fooled, however. Every single person knows who got there when and who should be next. If you don’t believe me, ask my wife: she nearly got lynched last time she went to the IMTT office.
It’s rude to sit down with people who are eating
This is one we learned just recently from Portuguese friends. We had arranged to meet several people in a local bar / restaurant for dinner, but one had already eaten. When he arrived, he didn’t come and speak to us at the dinner table but lingered in the bar area. When we questioned why he was “being funny,” we were told that, in Portugal, it is the height of rudeness to join people at the dinner table if you’re not eating yourself.
It’s weird to swim outside “swimming season”
A hardy attitude towards having a dip in the sea is a very British character trait. I personally spent many summer afternoons as a child shivering my way into the grey North Sea.
Even though the water in Portugal looks far more inviting, it’s all the Atlantic, and all pretty cold outside of August and September.
There’s also an official “swimming season,” which changes from time to time but is typically from May to September. Swim outside the official season and you are clearly mad or, at best, a tourist.
It’s sometimes hard to tell whether Portuguese people are arguing or not
Now we have more Portuguese friends, we are exposed to lots more Portuguese speaking and, thankfully, have begun to understand far more of the language.
As a result, we can often follow conversations between Portuguese friends and now know that excess volume and animation doesn’t necessarily mean that a fight’s about to kick off. Usually, they’re just having a good chat. Usually.
Can anyone suggest any more of the less obvious cultural differences? If so, please share them in the comments box below.
Would you like to find out more about our first few years in Portugal? If so, please buy our book:
Readers in the US and Canada will find the book here – and it should also be available from all other country-specific Amazon sites.
Image credits: michaelseangallagher, Wikimedia Commons