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  • Tony

Living in Portugal - March 2023

Now ten months since our arrival in Portugal and we are loving our decision to move here more and more each day. It's not perfect by any means but that's part of the charm of living here.

The great news is that we finalized Mary's residency this month and are able to travel freely now. It took some time to work through the Portuguese bureaucracy but were finally clear to roam!

The Weather this month started off with rain, broken up with a few days of clouds and some sunshine. About mid month temperatures began to warm with a hint of tropical humidity to announce that spring is here and warm summer months are on the way! By the end of the month were having sunny days with temps in the mod 70´s, Love it!

Portugal's economy remains strong but prices for basic groceries and housing continue to rise, so much that the Portuguese Government has implemented rent assistance for the lower 25% income ranges and has removed all taxes for essential groceries in the markets. Other items like Gasoline, Electricity, and clothing seem to be declining in price. It does appear that housing has reached its peak for both rental and purchase and in some areas starting to fall back towards more reasonable rates. The exception remains in the high demand and low supply areas like Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve. The Government has launched a few new tactics to help with housing availability and affordability by stopping the Golden Visa program, Issuing zero new short term rental licenses (Airbnb) and expiring some during licenses during the renewal processed, along with addressing vacant housing by providing the owners with 90 days to turn them into long term rentals or sell them. All with some controversy of course but feels like the right thing to do for those who live and work here. Many large investors have bought homes and apartment buildings, displacing residents and profiting from the demand for short term rentals. Closer to home and on the farm... This month we planted several lavender plants around the fruit trees to help with pest management for the fruit, and so we could enjoy their look and smell. Mary has planted flower seeds and bulbs to add some color and a few potted plants added to enhance our home.

Teresa´s harvesting lettuce, onions, herbs and fruit right now, and planting for spring/summer harvests are in full swing. The fava beans are getting taller and have many flowers on them, onions are ready and newly planted radish, carrots, green beans, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers are already reaching for the sun. The winter crop of Oranges, Lemons, Mandarins, and Loquat continue to provide us with abundant fruit for juice and snacks. Even with an abundant amount of ripe fruit on the trees they are filled with fragrant flowers readying the next crop. Seems like we have citrus available year round! She loves her garden and is out caring for it just about daily.

We were invited to go "Clamming" in the Alvor river estuary with neighbors and friends. Although we were unable to go, Teresa brought us a few Clams (Cockles) to enjoy. The fresh clams combined with Marys cooking were fantastic.

We bought a new car this month, Mary's been wanting a small convertible (called a Cabrio here) so we could enjoy road trips in style during the summer. Her thought was a small Miata but I was looking for a bit more comfort and an automatic! We ended up finding a used mercedes C200 and absolutely love it! Can't wait to travel through Portugal and parts of nearby Europe with the top down. I´m going to need to break out more hats to cover the ever growing exposed portions on the top of my head!

We were able to get out and enjoy a few things in the local area this month including a road trip to the Alentejo region.

This months activities and photos.

Click here to see our road trip through the Alentejo region of Portugal this month.

Early in the month hiking on the bluffs at Ponta da Piedade and Praia de Mós

Beach walk at Praia Alvor past Praia dos Três Irmãos

We headed to the eastern Algarve and the small village of Alcoutim for the Festival do Contrabando. Located along the bank of the Guadiana river that separates Portugal and Spain. The villages of Alcoutim and Sanlúcar de Guadiana peer at each other across the river daily with only a few people crossing over by boat.

That all changes during the three day Smugglers Festival where a temporary floating footbridge is erected allowing thousands of visitors to cross over and visit each village and partake in their seasonal market, street entertainment, exhibitions, gastronomy, and handicrafts.

Since the Festival is about a 1.5 hour drive from home we decided to spend the night in nearby Vila Real Santo Antonio. Also located along the Guadiana river across from Spain, but where the river meets the Atlantic, we considered this area as a potential home base during our scouting trip. Although VRSA didn't make the cut for our selected location, we enjoy visiting here. We stayed at the Grand House hotel this time, along the riverfront and marina.

On the drive home we stopped in a few beach towns near VRSA, Cacela Velha and Santa Luzia. Another fantastic sunny day in the Algarve for a road trip, cruising with the top down new car

This year we joined the Algarve Wine Society so we could learn more about Portuguese wines and Grape varieties especially since there are over 343 native varieties, incredible diversity for a relatively small region.

The Society membership is mainly Brits, (average age I would guess in their 80´s) so an interesting (and energetic) group to hang out with, full of interesting stories and worldly knowledge. They are happy that younger people are joining the group, we've met a handful of new members our age that we've bonded with. We've attended two events so far with this months being the annual Society meeting and dinner. Black tie optional but I have refused to do the tux thing since retirement! Best I could do is a Jacket and slacks (no tie!), although I was not alone in my selection. I think us "Younger" newbies are loosening the group up a little. Great dinner and wines and as usual great conversations too. At our table a couple a bit younger than us from South Africa, two senior members from Ireland and one gentleman from england. Part of the fun at these events is hearing about the perspectives of others from different cultural backgrounds. We chose to spend the night at the resort where the dinner took place, The Pine Cliffs Resort near Albufeira.

On the drive back we stopped at a few beaches and small villages along the way

Closer to home the Alvor beach appears to be coming back to life, readying for the onslaught of visitors during Easter week which officially kicks off the season for high season tourism. Umbrellas which were taken down in November are popping back up with beach lounge chairs to follow under them shortly, filling the main part of the beach with these concessions.

Barney and Sonny saying hello

As always we hope everyone is doing well, healthy, happy, and thriving. We miss you and love you all...A lot!

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