Portuguese Daily Life: December 2017

Another two months have come and gone and as always it seems like there has been plenty going on. The biggest news is that on December 1 we moved to Portimão. Moving always requires plenty of logistics and paperwork but it went well and we are now settled into our new apartment. We have updated information on some of the things you need to know and links on our Emigrating to Portugal page for anyone interested in the process and there is more information on our new home later in this post.


Several seafood restaurants in an attractive Portimão enclave

Our normal routine includes a visit to the gym three times a week and two and a half hour Portuguese classes twice a week. We try to play a game of tennis each week as well as taking a day for “exploring”. When you add in groceries, laundry, banking and other day to day activities there isn’t a lot of extra time left over.


Bill and Melanie posing at “The End of the World” – Cabo de São Vicente.

Friends from Nova Scotia stopped in for a visit for a couple of days in November. We enjoyed their company and showing them around this corner of the Algarve. It gave us a chance to visit some of the places we enjoy and to show off some of the reasons why we enjoy living here.


Pathway down the cliffs at Fortaleza do Beliche, Sagres.


Only a Nova Scotian would find the water warm in November!

For one of our exploratory trips we headed east again and visited Armação de Pêra, and drove through Albufeira to Villamoura. The small town of Armação de Pêra is based mainly on tourism so it was very quiet when we pulled in around noon. There were a couple dozen people enjoying the remnants of summer on the beach and a few more having lunch at some of the restaurants along the pretty streets. We had a terrific Indian meal and were the only customers.


Attractive roundabout centre in Armação de Pêra


Praia Grande de Pêra


Mural dedicated to poet Antônio  Pereira in his hometown of Armação de Pêra

Driving through Albufeira confirmed for us that it wasn’t what we were looking for in a town to settle in. While undeniably attractive, many of the streets were lined with bars and tourist restaurants and it seemed a bit too commercialized for our liking. A friend of ours lives in Villamoura so we decided to have a look. We were surprised when we arrived to find palm-lined streets, bicycle paths and everything seemed very manicured. It is an unincorporated town and is basically a resort built around golf clubs, marinas, services and hotels. It all seemed very pleasant (but expensive) and while we could definitely enjoy the bicycle paths, birding areas and well maintained trails, it was lacking much of the Portuguese flavour we enjoy. The beach front bar where we stopped for a coffee was quite idyllic however and the ambiance of the late afternoon sun and smooth jazz music was most enjoyable.


On the road to Aljezur


Sweet potatoes (batata-doce) are one of the major crops in the area


Flaming sausages were just one of the menu choices at the food hall

The town of Aljezur hosts an annual Sweet Potato Festival. This small town lies just inland from some of the surfing beaches along the west Vincentine coast and is known for its sweet potato production. Attended by several thousand visitors each year this is a popular festival showcasing the varied uses of the tuber along with other regional specialties such as honey, liqueurs, handcrafts and music. It was a fun afternoon and we tried some wild boar paired with sweet potato fries – excellent!


Wild boar, sweet potatoes and vinho tinto


Museu de Portimão celebrates sardine fishing and canning

An afternoon spent with our Portuguese class at the Portimão Museum was very enjoyable. It happens to be very close to our new home so this was also a great chance to start to get to know our new neighbourhood. It is located on the Zona de Riberinha which is a very pleasant pedestrian and bicycle boardwalk along the shores of the River Arade. We can see that this will become a regular walking route for us.


Zona Ribeirinha de Portimão

The museum itself was very well laid out and informative. Housed in an old sardine factory it tells the history of Portimao, the surrounding areas and the sardine canning process in detail. The tour was all in Portuguese and we even managed to understand most of what the guide told us.


This was the actual processing room where the sardines were brought into the factory


Listening carefully – our Portuguese professor on the right


Boilers and ovens where the sardines were cooked

We made our move to Portimão on the first of December. We loved Lagos and in many ways hated to leave, but we found an excellent opportunity that we had to take advantage of. Long term rentals are very hard to come by in the Algarve so when we had the chance to get a bright and comfy two bedroom two bath condo at a price (€700 per month) within our budget we knew we had to act quickly.


Our building overlooking the River Arade

In addition to the physical part of the move there are many aspects of paperwork that we now need to look after as a result of moving. Like anywhere in the world we have to change our address for things like the bank, car insurance, toll cards, health insurance etc. As well we have to visit SEF in person along with the Financial Office to get our documents changed with our new address.


There is a lot of the Algarve in this shot – one of Portimão’s smaller streets


View from our building’s rooftop patio and the ruins of the São Francisco Convent


Neighbouring Ferragudo from Portimão

Of course we have to get used to driving (and finding places to park) in our new city. With a population of around 55,000 Portimao is larger than Lagos, has many more permanent residents and is known as a shopping hub in this end of the Algarve. So there are busy streets, larger access roads and more roundabouts to get used to. For the most part it is fun – but not trying to find a parking place at the Aqua Mall on a holiday afternoon!


The streets of old Portimão are mainly for local residents – not tourists


Igreja do Colégio in the Praça de Republica

We love our new condo apartment and its location in a quiet part of the city overlooking the river. We are in a small building with a mixture of Portuguese and foreign residents. There are plenty of walking opportunities nearby and within 20 minutes (5 minutes by car) we can get to grocery stores, the riverside boardwalk, the football stadium, Praia da Rocha, cinemas, tennis courts, the Municipal theatre, restaurants and much more. As we settle in we’ll start exploring more.


Along the riverside boardwalk


Outside a well known restaurant of the same name – can’t wait to try it out

One thing we have quickly learned is that Portimão is a residential working class Portuguese city, unlike its next door neighbour Praia da Rocha (and many other Algarve towns) which is purpose-built to cater to foreign tourists. This provides a different experience as the main part of the city is designed for the convenience of residents as opposed to catering to the tourism industry. While it may not always be as glitzy as other towns, Portimao feels like a working-class town that is going about its business.


One of several small but beautiful beaches in Praia da Rocha


The popular Praia da Rocha and it’s namesake town

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As always we love to seek out interesting back streets

It has a wonderful municipal theatre, a good selection of restaurants at reasonable prices, great recreational facilities and a much to our delight it is home to the Portimonense soccer club which competes in the Primeira Liga (Portugal’s top flight professional division). Overall we are very pleased with our new home and feel that it s a good choice for us.

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Great birding from the boardwalks in nearby Alvore


Our first Premeira Liga match in Portimão

This will be our last post in 2017. Erik is coming to visit with us for the holidays and we plan to be very active, including a trip back to Sevilla which we enjoyed so much last year. We would like to wish everyone a great holiday season, whatever you may be doing, wherever you may be and all the best for the upcoming year.


Nativity scene in old Portimão

Obrigado pela sua atenção e Boas Festas!

About Tim & Anne Hall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we could. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe, and are now living happily in the Portuguese Algarve, Portimao to be specific. We are gradually chnging the focus of our site to feature images of Portugal. Stay tuned - its a work in progress.
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9 Responses to Portuguese Daily Life: December 2017

  1. Alfreda says:

    You posts and advice are wonderful. I first found your blog when I was seeking advice on our move to Portugal in January. The best. Through your information I was able to open our Millenium Bank account and obtain medical aid via bank representation in South Africa prior to our departure. I just hope that we don’t have to wait too long to visit SEF…..have heard that could be a bit of a nightmare. Happy Holidays! Alfreda and Peter Schoeman

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      We’re so pleased that you were able to use the information. It is difficult trying to find current information and much of it is based on situations for EU citizens. That is good news you were able to get your bank account opened prior to arrival. As far SEF, you will have to set up an appointment through their web portal (which we just found out only works with Internet Explorer and was why we couldn’t get it to work for us) so you may be able to do that fairly quickly. We have herd that some offices have long waiting lists but others seem to be fine. Enjoy your holidays as well and thanks for stopping by. Good luck with your move! Tim & Anne


      • Alfreda says:

        Hi Tim and Anne….thanks for your reply. I will certainly try and make an appointment with SEF through their WEB site.
        Kind regards Alfie and Peter

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Joe says:

    I love sweet potato fries, but flaming sausage should have its own festival too. Portimão looks like a beautiful mid-sized town. You seem to have everything you need nearby, even an attractive walking route. Your new condo with its spacious balconies has a very stylish look, and your view is spectacular. You guys have been very busy, and have earned a little time off from the blog. Have a very enjoyable holiday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Thanks Joe. We are really enjoying it here as it has everything we need, so can serve as a great base for us. Our son is here with us now for the holidays so we will be taking things easy and playing tour guides again. We are doing a little trip to Sevilla this week which will be fun. All the best to you and Esther for the holidays as well. Cheers, Tim & Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Like you, I can’t believe how fast a day, a week and a month go by. How did we ever fit work into our busy lives? I loved all your photos as well as the fact that you have introduced us to a more scenic side to Portimao and made us appreciate the city as more than just a shopping hub. We’ve talked about visiting the Portimao Museum since we arrived and, now that it’s close to your new home, I think we’ll have to make plans to combine a visit to it as well as a lunch (I’m inviting us 🙂) with you. Here’s to 2018 and more stories ahead about life in Portugal! Anita

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      We are finding many aspects of life in Portimao that we really enjoy. However between settling in, paperwork, the holiday season and Erik visiting we haven’t been able to take the time to get into a routine yet but that will come. The museum is a great snapshot of Portimao’s history and worth a visit. If you could combine that with a visit and lunch, so much the better.


  4. Portimão seems like a great place to live in, Tim! When would it be the best time of the year to explore this place?


    • timannehall says:

      Hi Agness. Like most of the Algarve the best time to visit depends on what you are looking for. The summer is hot and busy but the water at the beaches of nearby Praia da Rocha are warm and inviting. Accommodations are very expensive from June – October. There are lots of tourists but also plenty going on. The winters are cool and can be damp at times but great for walking and there are few tourists. Many of the tourist services are closed. However being more of a local city there is still plenty to do. So the spring and fall are perhaps good choices with almost perfect weather, most tourist services open, not huge crowds and accommodation prices still reasonable. Cheers!


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