Portugal Scouting, Trip #2
Updated: Mar 19
On our last scouting trip in November of 2021, we searched mainly for locations where we would like to spend our first year. We settled on the Algarve, the southern portion of the country mainly for the weather, landscape, the people, and close proximity to an airport. I am on this trip solo, searching for a home in the Algarve while Mary stays back in the states focusing on the elimination of our goods, divide and conquer is our mantra.
We intend to travel as light as possible for this journey so all of our worldly goods must go, well most of them anyway. It's amazing how much "stuff" accumulates over the years, making the process of elimination very time consuming but refreshing as we lighten the load. This process has helped us understand the value of a simpler life (within reason of course :-) ). We have been selling a few of the larger items, moving most of the rest on to family and friends who can put things to good use and the rest is going to local charities by the car load pretty much on a weekly basis. Our goal is to end up moving only a few bags of goods and starting fresh once we land in our new home.
I landed in Lisbon on the first day of my 10 day trip, Santa Barbara to San Francisco, then to Newark, and finally to Lisbon where after a long 1.5 hour line through Portuguese customs I picked up the rental and headed off on my chores. A huge thanks to our long time friend who was so generous to offer points she has gained from her extensive travel, to secure an upgrade for my flights. What a big difference, arrived feeling rested and ready to conquer!
My flight landed around 8am so after the long customs line and picking up the rental, I was on the road beginning my chores by about 10:30. My first two days were spent in Lisbon,organizing our lives in Portugal, setting up bank accounts, meeting with our Portuguese accountant and consulting with potential law firms to handle our needs in a new country. In addition I checked out a few other areas that were worth reviewing as potential living spots. During my free time I got to explore Lisbon a bit, I really love Lisbon and all it has to offer. Sure there are touristy things here since it's one of the most visited cities in Portugal but just off the beaten path are some of the most beautiful architecture, Azulejo tiles, shops and restaurants.
After a few days in Lisbon, I am moving on to Faro in the Central Algarve. This is the area where we intend to land for our first year, preferably somewhere in the foothills above Faro. Ironically there is a small town called Santa Barbara de Nexe that is a perfect location. The foothills are close enough to Faro, offer great sweeping views of the coast, but far enough away from the density of the city. Faro is a charming city full of historic sites and architecture. The highlights are the walled area of the historic center, the central marina and the 6 islands that are just across the river from Faro. All but one of the islands have homes, restaurants and services along with great beaches fronting the Atlantic coast. In most of the Algarve you will see large nests for the resident Storks atop buildings, power poles and just about any high point around.
The Hotel I was staying at in Faro had amazing restaurants. These are from dinner at Habito, the rooftop restaurant at the 3HB Hotel in Faro.
Another nice meal in Faro. Seafood is a predominant part of the diet throughout Portugal. The variety and abundance are outstanding. This is from Lodo which specializes in shellfish. Tried Perceves (Barnacles) for the first time. There okay, very messy and a lot of work getting to the good part to eat. This restaurant is downtown where the prices are a little higher than most but still very reasonable
Local Faro Restaurant, local prices are the best!
On Saturday I took a break from house hunting in the morning and went over to Olhao for what's described as the best seafood market in the area. The market is right on the water where small fishing arrive full of the fresh catch. The variety and prices are spectacular, looking forward to trying some previously unexplored selections. There are two buildings at the market, one is full of Seafood and Meats, the other is Produce, Nuts and Spices. On Saturday the outside areas fill with vendors and their specialty items.
This is a much smaller but typical Mercado in the area where we are looking for a home. Sao Bras de Alportel
Great Indian food at Namaste, Faro
Gas prices in Europe overall tend to be much higher in the US. This trip prices hovered around $8.50/gallon. Explains all the smaller fuel efficient cars!
Faro Island is one of the six islands that create a break between the Atlantic, Ria Formosa and the town of Faro.
Had to try the Mexican food! I found this restaurant Guaka in Faro. I'd give them an A for effort but certainly not the best or most traditional Mexican food. I'll miss this about living in Southern California. I'm sure we can find a better one here somewhere
We were in the contract process for a home in Almargens, just above Faro when one of the last places that I looked became a clear choice for us. We quickly cancelled the work on the Almargens house and entered into an agreement with a home in Alvor. Alvor is a small village just outside of Portimao. It's a bit farther west but closer to the beach and the small fishing village is perfect. Here's a video that we found showing a little bit of the area. A Marina, Riverfront, Amazing beaches, Walking/Hiking/Biking all around, and for the adventurers, a Sky Diving facility!
Looking for a good burger joint in Faro. This one was pretty good, certainly cured the craving! Hamburgueria, Faro
Back in Lisbon for one night before tomorrow's flight. A nice meal outside in Praca dos Restauradores, Pinoquio, Lisbon
While this trip was a lot of work and little touring, It was a success as we found our new home where we will land in Mid May. Here's a video tour of our cottage in Montes de Alvor. and a link to a video of Alvor, the area that we will live in.
Portugal continues to amaze the more of it that I experience. It's a lot about the people here who are generally very friendly, make an effort to communicate with you in your language and are extremely tolerant in general. The diverse cultures that make up the population today is what appears to be the secret. Portugal has been the target of many invaders throughout history that have left their marks in the people, culture, architecture and language. The blending that has occured seems to have created a very workable environment. We are looking forward to exploring more of Portugal and the European and African continents while we are here, they are all so close and mostly accessible by short travel.