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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Obrigado pela sua atenção e Boas Festas!