The months of September and October have flown by. We are finding ourselves much busier than we have in a long time. We are getting out and around, discovering new (to us) areas, meeting new people and learning more about our new home.
Our biggest news is that on October 17th we received our Temporary Residence Permits (Ótimo – Portuguese for Great!). Earlier posts have described the process and in our last post we explained why we didn’t get them in September. So with our Criminal Record Checks in hand we arrived at SEF (Immigration) in the morning and after a relatively easy process we are now residents of Portugal for the next year. In addition to our visas and criminal checks we had to provide proof of address, financial means, health insurance and our newly acquired fiscal numbers.
Much more detail on the whole process and costs incurred for obtaining the Residency Permits can be found on our timeline page. The cost for a one year permit was €159.70 each.
Even after 2 months we continually marvel over the wonderful weather here. Until October 18th there was no rain and only minimal cloud since the day we arrived back in August. As great as that is however, rain is essential for the parched landscape and low reservoirs which could use many days of precipitation.
The extended hot dry weather contributed to many new forest fires in the north of the country and they have had deadly and devastating effects. Our thoughts go out to the families who have lost loved ones and to the bombeiros who valiantly combat the fires.
Our day to day life starts out with coffee on our patio, watching the day come alive with the sun. Birds call out in the orchard and overhead, and the bells from the goats and nearby church provide pleasant background sounds.
Apart from our boat trip from Sagres we haven’t been doing a lot of serious birding. We are however, getting to know the regular visitors in our orchard and around the trees in our yard. Every morning we have blackbirds, house sparrows, magpies, tits, egrets, gulls, collared doves and some occasional visitors like buzzards, chiffchaff and ravens. The flamboyant hoopoes are still with us and most days we spot a couple flying through the yard.
Now that we have a car we have begun exploring a little farther afield. We have tried to cover many of our day trips in our Exploring Portugal pages, and there are more to write up. Of course with a car come extra expenses. We were very pleased with insurance, as for just under €200 a year we have full comprehensive coverage. On the flip side of that gas is very expensive, running at around €1.40 a litre. Our little car has a tiny engine and manual transmission so it gives great mileage, just not much power on the hills.
Checking out the local flea markets and the charity shops for those bargains that we can’t do without continues to be a fun pastime. We don’t buy a lot, but recently purchased a great mini barbeque and a large beach umbrella for €2 each.
We couldn’t resist going to the Hippie Market again on the last Sunday in September. As in our first visit it was a sensory delight and overflowing with great food, interesting people and a true smorgasbord of things for sale. Other than the great pakoras we didn’t buy anything this time around but had a lot of fun.
We really love our new apartment and have been having fun setting it up to work for us. We have bought a few things to make our life more comfortable and are preparing for the cooler and damper weather ahead. In addition to heaters and a dehumidifier, of course we needed a wine rack to store the wonderful wines that we get on sale every week at the supermarkets.
There is no shortage of activities in the area and we are beginning to figure out which ones will work for us. To care for our bodies we have joined the municipal facility Lagos en Forma. This is a modern facility operated by the Municipality of Lagos which opened 10 years ago. It has a modern and well equipped gym, three pools, an indoor court and many other amenities. At a cost of €31 per month it is great value.
For mental exercise, as well as to better integrate into our new home we have enrolled in a “Portuguese for Beginners” course at the Centro de Línguas Cultura e Comunicação in the nearby town of Portimão. It is a 50 hour course that runs until mid-January. We started on October 23rd and will provide an update on our progress in the next monthly post. We’re looking forward to it but are a little nervous as this is our first formal language training in many many years.
One Sunday we took in the Better Living in Portugal trade show in Portimão. It was organized by “Afpop” an expat support organization, and was intended to introduce expats (mostly) to services available in the Algarve. It was an informative and fun afternoon with everything from health and financial services, home improvement, funeral planning, language training, travel assistance and many food and wine producers on hand.
Amongst all of these activities and our day trips we spent 5 days in Valencia, Spain at the home of friends Kemi and Feda. Along with Dick & Anita we traveled 12 hours each way by bus and train. It was an excellent visit and we will have a separate post about that in the near future.
Now that we have our Residency Permits in hand we can relax a bit and begin to establish more of a daily routine. We have little things like supermarket customer cards, our own doctor and gym memberships to make us feel like we are at home and we are starting to find favorite restaurants, walks and cafes. We can understand most of the labels at the grocery stores, menus at restaurants and how to operate the gas pumps. Once we can talk with people in Portuguese we will be even more comfortable.
Every day we realize what a good choice Lagos, and Portugal was for us and we are grateful for having the opportunity to call it home for at least another year.
Até o mês que vem!