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  • Tony

Living in Portugal - August 2022

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Following a few weeks of record heat in July (35c/95+f) we were greeted with more normal temps for the area, low 80s cooling at night with low humidity. August is peak tourist season in the Algarve with many Europeans flocking to the sun and beaches for their holidays. Although Alvor is busy with visitors, it's not nearly as chaotic as we read before coming here. Other areas east of us do seem to be a bit more crowded but our little slice is bearable but were looking forward to the fall when life gets back to "normal".

It's certainly Festival season here where most towns small and large hold festivals celebrating foods and music to attract visitors. Most festivals we have found center around large concerts that mostly feature well-known DJs whipping crowds into a dance frenzy with their thump, thump, of Euro Tech music. A few feature well-known bands and performers. The great thing is that most appeal to all age groups with families coming out for the early food scene around 7pm and the Techno beat crowd showing up later with the acts starting around 10pm.

We've also been exploring the local golf clubs here playing several this month as we look for a home course to join. There are several options located within a half-hour drive from our home, then several more to the east that are within an hour. The resorts are very nice, most are designed for the leisure "Resort" golfer with wide open fairways and mildly challenging features. July and August are slow seasons for golf so rates have been reasonable. Mid Sept-January and again in the spring are peak golf times so we're looking to join a club to enjoy unlimited golf at a lower annual rate. Joining a club here is another item that we are amazed at how inexpensive it can be, a year of unlimited golf, including restaurant and golf shop discounts is about $5,000 per couple! That's unlimited rounds for a full year! We thought about joining a comparable club in the US but couldn't justify the cost on average at least triple what we will pay here.

Arte Doce, Lagos. Festival celebrating all the sweet treats from the Algarve

Mercado Central, Portimao

Unique foods and flavors of Portugal. We continue to enjoy the flavors of Portugal and try to experience foods out of our comfort zone. Snails are a big deal here in July and August although not a dish we have yet to try. One of our neighbors picks them right out of the garden and sautes them up in onion and garlic! Cured meats and of course dried fish (Bacalhau/Cod) are prevalent at all markets/stores. We're getting used to the varieties of fresh fish available, most have unfamiliar names so finding our favorites has been an adventure although it's hard to go wrong with so much to choose from. Pork is also readily available in many forms from fresh and cured to whole spit roasted. "Hamburgers" are everywhere too... but it's difficult to replicate the taste of a good ole American burger for some reason (although we have found a few). Snack foods are also an adventure Ketchup, Ham, or Hot dog flavored chips?

Barragem da Bravura. One of the many reservoirs in the foothills near us that store water for the Algarve. The drought has lowered the level significantly.

First Golf Day in Portugal @ Penina Resort. The first golf resort in the Algarve. We played the resort course not the championship course for our first day out in Portugal.

Sardine Festival, Portimao. One of the many summer festivals in our area. We're finding that most cater to families for the food and the Techno music crowd later in the evening for the featured acts.

Golf @ Vale de Milho. A small, hilly 9-hole course for a quick game.

A tour around the neighborhood. Many small farms occupy open spaces of land. What they produce usually ends up being shared/traded with neighbors or in the local farmer's markets.

Parking is a big challenge here, especially in the summer months with tourism at its peak. Regardless of the season parking on the sidewalk is very normal.

D-Montes is our local market, a short walk from our house. They carry everything from the gas canisters outside, we get our fresh pastries here on occasion, fresh regional produce, deli meats, and everything else we could need.

Cars are interesting here too. Many older smaller cars (think smart car size) around, the occasional horse and buggy on the main roads, and plenty of scooters that make getting around locally and parking much easier. It's interesting that despite having some of the lowest average income and highest car prices in Portugal, many drive higher-priced brands like Mercedes, Audi, Volvo, etc...

Towards the foothills near our home, there are many larger farms with groves of Oranges, Avocados, and Carob. Vineyards are becoming a large part of the landscape too with several new large plantings in what was once open space or other agriculture

Golf @ Silves. Located in the Foothills this is one of our favorites so far.

The Aerodromo (local airfield) is a small airport just behind our village. The main activities are two skydiving companies, small planes that pick up and drop off advertising banners to fly over the regional beaches, and SevenAir our local commercial airline with two flights daily to small towns around Portugal.

We can view the activity from our backyard, it's fun to watch and hear the hoots from the skydivers as they get dropped from the sky and land back at the airport. The majority of the jumps are tandem with an instructor but we often see more seasoned jumpers land at Alvor beach near us

How the Banners are picked up...

Olhao Seafood Festival. Not much of a festival as it is an opportunity to promote the waterfront restaurants with a little techno music too... The town of Olhao is one of the larger small boat fishing ports in the Algarve.

Golf @ Palmares. Hyped as a super premium resort where many Californians are buying up newly built overpriced apartments and Villas. It is a great location with nice views but we found the golf course to be just OK. The fairways were very dry due to the lack of available water and conservation. We later learned that this is one of the few Golf Resorts built relying solely on Municipal water supply. Most have their own wells or water storage where Palmeres does not. They are forced to significantly cut municipal water use for the golf course to continue building homes. We also learned that they are trying to contract with the surrounding farms to access water from their wells

Alvor, our nearby village busy on a summer evening

Golf @ Gramacho. Another one of our favorites so far

Golf @ Morgado. Nice course in the foothills near us. WIDE open fairways and very little shrub growth on the perimeter make this a very forgiving course. Except for the few water holes