Living in Portugal - November 2022
Updated: Jan 10
Now six months since our arrival in Portugal, we have been busy getting our documents and homelife in order while making time to enjoy our surroundings. Still hard to believe we made the move but feeling more and more comfortable here every day. Were making more social connections and forming relationships with local shop owners.
We have found a couple of International social groups comprised of travelers passing through and recent immigrants like us. The groups gather weekly for happy hour to socialize and share experiences. It's been a great source for information on resources to help acclimated to our new country. Not to mention the diversity is fun, the people we have met are great, and the opportunity to pick someone's brain about travel to their country of origin is going to help a lot in our travel and exploration.
Forming relationships with local businesses is one of the best experiences here. Keeping our spending local and at small businesses not only feels right but is genuinely appreciated by them. I found a local tailor (Alfaiataria) to do some adjustments to a sport coat. 80 year old Fernando Martins has been a tailor custom making mens clothing since 1960. His shop is filled with photos of the "famous" people who he has created clothing for including Prince Andrew on a visit here a few years ago. He doesn't speak english but when I come in he steps out into neighboring shops in order to grab someone who can translate for us. Regardless of who came to translate they each spoke of Fernando and his work as the best in Portugal and have obvious great respect for him and his talent. His work is fantastic and his prices are very reasonable (Portuguese prices not Savile row). I felt a bit embarrassed that I didn't just have him make the Sport Coat but certainly know where to go should I need a great shirt or suit custom made with great skill and care at off the shelf prices.
We finally received communication from SEF (The immigration authority) and an appointment for Mary's residency, one of the last item on our document checklist! SEF is such a mess, 4 months to receive confirmation of an appointment and the appointment is set for March of 2023! No worries though.
November brought a mix of rain and sunshine to Alvor, It definitely feels like fall. A bit cooler than we expected in the south but plenty of sunny days in between the clouds and rain to warm things up a bit. Cold and damp nights make it feel like Northern California weather.
Portugal continues to experience its share of economic pressures but is progressing well compared to others in the EU. The economy continues to show growth, Inflation is high but below the EU average, and gas prices continue to fall to the rough equivalent of $6.14 per gallon (€1.62 per Litre). Grocery prices remain a bit higher but we can still get a "Prato da dia" lunch (salad, rice, fries, Frango Asado/Grilled Chicken, and a drink) for €10. The dollar has weakened a bit to the Euro this month, now about $1.04 to €1.00, we knew it couldn't stay at parity for too long but it was great while it lasted!
On the farm... Production has slowed for the winter, a crop of winter oranges from a few trees, one of the mandarin trees is producing a few sweet gems, but the figs, persimmons, and pomegranates are losing their leaves. Some spinach and lettuce are still around and Teresa has planted Fava beans and onions. Mary's Garden is all but finished for the season except for a few herbs that are really nice to include in our meals. She has been working on colorful flowers around the outside of the house which makes it feel like home, and of course starting to plan and arrange for the holidays.
Since we're starting to travel again, I've decided to keep these posts shorter by breaking up the content. I'll keep this monthly thread about us living in Portugal going to journal our time living here. Separate posts will be created of activities and travels and i'll include links to them here.
A few photos from this month
We were able to work in a few beautiful cliff hikes this month. This one on the cliffs of Lagos, above Praia Dona Ana and Ponta Piedade about 15 minutes west of us.
The Church of Santo Antonio in Lagos believed to be the birthplace of Saint Anthony of Lisbon. A beautifully preserved Baroque style church that houses in its annex the Museu de Lagos Dr. Jose. The small Museum has a unique curiosities exhibit and explores local/regional history through archaeological & art exhibits
On our continuous hunt for good Mexican food...Puerto Escondido Beach Bar and Mexican Food in Luz did pretty well with ingredients, perfect guacamole, the Cochinita Pibil Tacos were fantastic, and the view not so bad either. They even had Negra Modelo!
We love to take in the sites around the riverfront/harbor of Alvor. Sunset is a magical time there
Another hike along the cliffs between Ferragudo and Carvoeiro about 25 minutes east. Check out the "extreme" fishing in the last few photos...100's of feet above the water we were wondering what he could possibly catch that would stay on the line all the way up?
Octopus and Tuna Tataki for lunch along the Arade river. Casa do Rio did not disappoint
Another day trip to the Sagres area about 45 minutes west of us. The light house is under renovation at Farol do Sao Vicente but the grounds, cliffs and art pieces were fun. The 16th century Fort of Santo António de Belixe is perched precariously on the cliff high above the raging atlantic. The small town of Sagres reminds us a little of the small beach/surf towns of southern california
Located our now favorite place for empanadas in Lagos
The 359th edition of Feira de Sao Martinho in Portimao is the oldest event in the city dating back to 1662.
Our first "Football" game in Europe! A preparation match for the european national teams under 21 players. This is the local stadium in Portimao where the home team Portimonense S.C play. Fun to watch even though there were not a lot of people there. Since it is a "friendly" prep match it was only announced two days before so probably not many knew it was happening. Portugal vs. Czech Republic, Portugal won 5-1! A great tune up for us to learn more about Football before the start of the upcoming World Cup.
A few random shots
Barney and Sonny are doing well and continue to settle in to their new routines. Sonny is his happy go lucky self, low maintenance and lots of fun. Barney had a little medical issue, swelling and sores on his lip. He's had this before and we assumed that he had been eating something he shouldn't like bugs! This time I think we found the source, we recently bought two big house plants similar to what we had in Carpinteria. One day we caught Barney licking them like crazy and a few days later...swollen lip! Hes fully recovered and the plants are gone, well see what happens.
While walking through the neighborhood I found Barney's twin who appears to be ruling over the neighborhood while indoor Barney remains in charge of his own comfortable kingdom. Sonny just wants to be left alone for his nap.
Prato do Dia (dish of the day) is offered by most restaurants, cafes and snack bars in Portugal. Usually consisting of a three course meal, a drink and coffee for usually around €10 and are very popular with Portuguese seniors. Taberna Mula Cheia is a popular Portuguese restaurant in our neighborhood of Montes de Alvor and offers the best price Prato do Dia I have seen so far @ €7.60
The variety of fresh products available in the Mercado Central is mind blowing. These are from the main market in Portimao where the fish section is one of the largest in the Algarve. Robalo (Seabass) is abundant in the markets here and one of our favorites. There are natural farms for these and Seabream/Dourado in the Alvor river/estuary area but ocean caught varieties are plentiful too. The fish market in Portimao is filled with over 30 stalls some specializing in shellfish others offering a wide variety but always fresh and reasonably priced. The fishmongers will clean and cut the fish for you, we prefer to keep them whole for a quick grill on the BBQ with a little olive oil and S&P.
It's hard not to get wrapped up in the World Cup frenzy over hear. We've adopted our new National team and are cheering them on along with the rest of the country!
For our Anniversary/Thanksgiving week we took a road trip to the north of Portugal. We combined a trip to check out other locations where we might want to live along with some time in POrto and the Douro Valley. More info on this trip can be found here
We hope everyone is doing well, healthy, happy, and thriving. We miss you and love you all...A lot!
Boas Festas (Happy Holidays)