Living in Portugal - September 2022
Updated: Jan 10
The weather has cooled from the heat of summer so it's a perfect time to get out and enjoy what Portugal has to offer. In September were seeing average highs in the mid to high 70s and around the low 60s at night. Mostly clear skies, some days of scattered clouds, and a few days of thunderstorms and much-needed rain.
July and August saw many Portuguese, British, and Irish visitors including a lot of families. The visiting dynamic has changed dramatically in September and we see far fewer families, still a lot of Brits, but many more visitors from France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden. It's significantly less busy here this month, back to normal for us from the high beach tourist season.
We finally selected and joined a Golf club near us, Silves Golf which is part of the Pestana Golf group. As members, we have the benefit of playing all six of their area courses for free with our membership, four of which are within a 20-minute drive from our home. Our golf skills are still far from perfect but the forgiving courses keep us coming back for more practice. We've been told that Mid Sept through November, and again Jan through March is the peak season for golf holidays in the Algarve so it will be interesting to see just how busy the courses get. With more than 40 courses in the Algarve and the great weather we can see why so many choose to get away from the colder north to enjoy the sun and great golf.
Via golf, we are meeting other English-speaking resident/expats and part- time residents including people from Germany, Sweden, and Holland. We keep hearing about the large number of Americans who are moving to Portugal but have yet to meet them. So far the only Californians that we have met were the family on the flight to Lisbon when we first arrived. It sounds like most Americans are choosing the Lisbon area as their home base.
Compared to what we are reading about life in the US, Portugal is experiencing its share of economic pressures. While gas prices here continue to fall they remain the equivalent of about $1.00-$1.50 per gallon higher than in the US vs $3.50-$4.00 when we first arrived. Overall inflation in Portugal remains high but currently lower than in the US but we are seeing significant increases in grocery prices which makes it extremely difficult for the Portugues. The silver lining for us is the dramatic improvement in the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro. When we first started this journey the dollar was as high as $1.20 to €1 euro, in May it was down to $1.08 to €1 euro, and this month it was down to as low as $94.50 to €1 euro. We have been converting dollars to euros for our future spending needs to take advantage of this huge swing in rates. This is all good for Americans as travel to Europe is on the rise due to the cost becoming less expensive, although somewhat offset by inflation.
Some local news...Energy prices are rising here too, mainly due to the rest of Europe's reliance on Russia as their primary source. The EU sets pricing parameters for electricity and natural gas based on the average price of natural gas in the EU. The irony in Portugal and Spain is that they don't rely on Russian sources but get most of their needs fulfilled from Africa and the Americas. Portugal has one of the highest green energy productions in the EU providing over 60% of electricity from green resources (Wind, Solar, and Hydro). Since the price of electricity is set based on the cost of natural gas, there is no current benefit for residents despite having such a large green source of electricity. The green electric producers love this as they are raking in big profits due to the low cost of production. The EU has finally recognized that there is a need to fix the outdated pricing structure so there is light at the end of the tunnel for Portugal residents and ideally a reduced cost for the efforts to go green.
On to some photos of this months experiences. We miss you all and hope to see you in Portugal soon.
Sonny and Barney are enjoying their new home
Scooter shopping, we bought the black Peugeot and Mary's got her eyes on the light blue Vespa "Picnic". It's a great way to get around the local narrow streets and makes parking a breeze.
We attended a few concerts at Vale de Lobo. These two were Jazz
A nice dinner at our local "French" restaurant Por do Sal.
A local art piece on the wall of a building in Portimao
A stuffed Goat sits on top of this rock along the fairway of the 8th hole. Not sure why yet?
There is a Biergarten about 30 minutes away in Porches. It's part of a large resort called Vila Vita Park but located away from the resort. Not sure why but they do a nice job with any project that they undertake. They were having a special "Barbeque" night one weekend so we thought that we would check it out. The food was really good, some of the best ribs that I have experienced so far in Portugal. We're looking forward to Oktoberfest!
We had the pleasure of hosting our friends Marty and Susan who are fellow expats living in Valencia Spain for the past few years. We drove to Lisbon to pick them up and then spent a few days exploring the Algarve.
A night in Lisbon for Mary and I before our guests arrive. Dinner at Tasca Baldracca
lunch with Susan & Marty in Alvor after our drive from Lisbon. Restinga is one of our favorite restaurants located on the beach in Alvor. Our server put together a fantastic selection of traditional Algarve dishes, Octopus salad, Camararo (shrimp in olive oil and garlic), Grilled Sea Bass, Potatoes, and Seafood Cataplana. Sorry I didn't get any photos but trust me it was great!
A day trip out to Sagres (The end of the world) and visit to Fortazella Sagres where Prince Henry the Navigator founded his school of navigation in the 15th, teaching new navigation methods that opened the way for exploring the New World in the age of discovery. Stopped at our favorite restaurant Agua Salgada for some octopus salad, cod cakes, Camararo, and salmon bruschetta
We joined a wine tour put on by the local municipality of Lagoa. A full day of wine tasting, vineyards, and food. Starting at Arvad, a new modern winery located along the Arad river we sampled some of their wines while enjoying some charcuterie snacks, toured the cellar, then had a nice lunch in the vineyard. We sat next to a great family from Guia and had a wonderful conversation with them weaving between languages of Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Our second stop was Montes de Salico (MDS), an old- school smaller operation where we had more food and wine while enjoying the surroundings.
Day trip out to Faro walking through the old town section and the marina then enjoying a nice lunch at LODO
That same evening we went to a concert that was part of the International Guitar Festival in the community of Lagoa. Quinta dos Vales was the venus for the performance and provided a nice backdrop of the vineyards and art sculptures.
Back in Lisbon after a week of touring Marty & Susan in the Algarve. Lunch at Time out Market, a modern food-focused extension of the Mercado Central that features small food stands operated by prominent local chefs. Following lunch, we toured the National Tile Museum where the art of tile over the centuries is on display in a 16th-century convent.
Dinner and Fado show in Lisbon with Susan & Marty. A small historic restaurant, Parreirinha de Alfama, is one of the oldest Fado houses in Lisbon that has been in operation since 1939. The food was very good and the Fado was intimate and outstanding. A magical experience that could only improve if could have understood what they were singing. We'll have to go back when our Portuguese improves. The lady in the small window we believe was the cook, she peered over the restaurant from her small window intently observing the flow of service.
Back in the Algarve, Mary and I took a small boat up the Arade river to Silves. There are limited days and times where the boats can travel up stream based on the tides. The river itself has a restricted flow of freshwater due to the reservoirs upstream and relies on the tidal flow to provide high enough water levels for small boats to motor upstream. Well before the reservoirs were built, Silves and this river was the key to local commerce. Silves was at one time the capital of the Algarve where large ships sailed upstream for trade and supplies. The hidden location up the river provided protection from invaders.
A few miscellaneous photos...
October is shaping up to be a great weather month, with warm days and cool nights, leaves changing color in the vineyards, and the local shops changing stock from beach attire to long sleeves and pants. Mary's garden is starting to produce some of the chili's that we brought in seed form. Were soon harvesting Big Jim, Anaheim, Jalapenos, and Tomatillos.
We hope everyone is doing well, healthy, happy, and thriving. We miss you and love you all...A lot!