It has been just over a month since we arrived in Lagos and we have been busy. In addition to catching up with friends (and making some new ones) we now have our own accommodation, bank account, health insurance and car. We had hoped to have our Temporary Residence Permits but the stars didn’t quite align themselves for that to happen this month.
Our scheduled appointment was on September 14 at the SEF (Immigration) office in Portimão. We arrived early and took our place in the queue. After a half hour wait we sat down in front of the Immigration Officer only to be told that the servers required to run the routine criminal record check were down and they didn’t know when they would be back online. SEF routinely runs a current check every time you visit to ensure that you haven’t been up to any illegal activity in Portugal.
So we left with a new appointment booked for October 17, a little disappointed but reassured that everything was in order. They suggested we go to the local Tribunal Judicial da Comarca (court house) and obtain a clearance from them as they are good for 90 days, and bring it with us for our October appointment just in case there were computer problems on that day.
Our first month was a combination of relaxation and putting together all of the pieces for our meeting with SEF. In addition to the information and documents required it is necessary to have a Fiscal Number and a bone fide address in Portugal. For us this was the most challenging aspect as we don’t have a registered lease as we are renting from friends. Our previous post explains how to work through this process.
Before we got our car we didn’t have the opportunity to begin exploring very far afield, but we had a lot of fun poking around Lagos itself, trying new restaurants and cafes and discovering new streets and alleyways.
Now that we have our own place, we do need a few practical and decorative items. We have always enjoyed local flea markets, yard sales and second hand shops and there are markets of almost every description here. It has been a lot of fun spending time at the hippie market, boot sales and charity shops as well as the more traditional markets.
The last Sunday of every month is the not quite officially sanctioned “hippie market”. Located 15 minutes outside of Lagos, this is a treat for the senses and regardless of your background it is certain to bring back memories of the sixties and seventies. Combine the following ingredients: flea market, organic farmers market, alternative lifestyle showcase, converted caravans, street food, craft show and add in some Portuguese flavor and you will have the basis for this lively and colourful market experience. The following pictures should give you an idea of what to expect.
The monthly boot sale in Lagos is another popular event although on a more sedate level. Located within the town limits, this market features a few vendors selling from the trunks of their cars (boot) but mostly from portable stalls and tables. As with most sales of this type there are lots of used goods that you’re better off without but invariably you can find some hidden gems.
The Saturday morning farmer’s market is a traditional favorite. Located in two large buildings downtown, the market can be very busy and hard to navigate in the summer months, but when we visited last fall it was less crowded. The vendors are cheerful and anxious for you to try their produce.
Another year round shopping experience that you should try is the daily (except Sunday) fresh fish and seafood market. Located on the main avenue there are about 30 vendors who sell every species imaginable that is available in the surrounding waters.
One afternoon we thoroughly enjoyed an excellent meal of fresh grilled sardines at Restaurant Escondidinho with local friends. We were there over lunch time and the owner scrambled from table to table with racks of sardines and other fish fresh off the charcoal grills in the back. It is an all you can eat affair and he keeps bringing them out until you signal for no more! We had sardines and horse mackerel as well as a wonderful tuna steak accompanied by fresh salad and potatoes. Washing it down with white wine cut with sparkling water is refreshing with the salty sardines. As a bonus – if you can eat 43 sardines your meal is free – none of us made it!
About 15 minutes away is the traditional fishing village of Burgau. We’re checking out the sports club there and took the opportunity to walk the narrow streets to the beach. It was a stunning afternoon and we enjoyed a cold drink overlooking the sparkling water.
After we got our car we started learning the roundabouts and directions. We drove a friend to the airport in Faro and to our SEF appointment in Portimão. We’ve done well and the only mistake so far has been ending up in the narrow maze of one way streets in the old town. Fortunately after 10 minutes of winding through this maze we popped out on one of the wider streets.
As we now have a lot of the initial work done we have more time for local exploration by walking the road behind our villa, equipping our home (buying stuff) and learning elementary Portuguese from our friendly gardener Jose.
We are looking forward to the coming months and will regularly provide updates on our integration into life here in the Algarve. Tchau!