Algarve Daily Living – January 2018

The past few weeks have been pretty much split between enjoying Erik’s time with us over the holidays and more paperwork. We are well into winter which means there are a few chilly and wet days but for the most part we have enjoyed sunshine. Winter definitely calls for layers here. When you are in the shade or the wind you will appreciate fleece or a “puffy coat” but in the afternoon sun you can strip down to a short sleeve shirt.


Early January on the beach in Salema

We did our first airport “run” to Lisbon to pick Erik up. It is about a three hour drive from Portimão on toll highways all the way, so it is a relatively easy drive – but it is expensive. It cost €45 return for tolls, but fortunately our car gets great mileage so that part wasn’t too bad. By way of comparison, we spent €44 each for a return trip on the train (First Class) to Lisbon in early January.


A typical service area on the toll highway in Alentejo

Our first few days of Erik’s visit were spent in showing him around Portimão, Alvor and Lagos. There are plenty of beautiful beaches, interesting streets, great restaurants and pleasant walks within a short distance of home so those days passed by very quickly. The streets of Portimão and Lagos were all decked out in Christmas lights and decorations so it added to the atmosphere that we enjoy so much.


Praça de República, Portimão


An evening walk in Lagos


Museu de Portimão


Sardine baskets at the Museu de Portimão


Old city gate at Lagos

IMG_2868 (2)

Ponta da Piedade

Of course we had to go see the latest Star Wars movie which we thought was excellent! Then it was time to head to Sevilla for a wonderful return visit to this city which we love.

IMG_2914 (2)

Old city skyline in Sevilla

Christmas at our place was a pretty low-key but enjoyable and relaxing day. A roast duck with trimmings was very tasty accompanied by a nice Portuguese rose Vinho Verde. New Year’s Eve was celebrated with friends coming over for the evening, culminating with fireworks on the Portimão riverfront. An excellent way to finish off an exciting year and to kick-off 2018.


Fogos de artifícios over the River Arade

With so many interesting and beautiful areas around this end of the Algarve to share with Erik, it was hard to decide which ones to visit on the few days that he had remaining. In the end we decided on a trip to the Foia in the Serra de Monchique, a drive to Sagres and “the end of the world”, and a beach day exploring the coastline around Salema and Burgau. As you can tell from the pictures and from previous posts there are many many beautiful day trips nearby.

P_20171230_123050 (2)

The Algarve coast from the Foía


Footpath to the lighthouse on Cape Sagres

To finish off his visit, we all took the train to Lisbon. This was our first time using the train as for this route as we normally take the bus. However with prices being comparable and taking advantage of First Class tickets we have to say the train will be our mode of choice when schedules permit. The trains do not run as often as the buses but the relaxation of a First Class coach from Tunes to Lisbon make it a more enjoyable ride. For anyone considering this way of traveling you have to take the small regional train from Portimão (or Lagos) to Tunes where you change, at the platform, for the larger intercity train to Lisbon. The cost for us was €44 each return.


A First Class ticket on the train to Lisboa is great value

IMG_3429 (2)

Elevador de Santa Justa, Lisboa

It felt really good to be back in Lisbon, if only for one night. We rented a nice apartment through Airbnb near Rossio Station giving us walking access to the streets of downtown Lisbon. We enjoyed seeing the Christmas decorations and lights that were everywhere. Finished off by a delicious seafood dinner it was a great way to end Erik’s trip. Judging by his reaction we will have no problem convincing him to come back again soon!




Even in January you can enjoy the evening meal (jantar) outside

Our Beginner’s Portuguese classes ended in mid-January. We were pleased with the progress we made and found them very enjoyable. Our instructor Vanessa was excellent and we feel we made a friend as well. It was also a great way to meet people – we had classmates from England, Belgium, USA, Czech Republic and Thailand. We plan to move into the Elementary level classes later this year.


The Portimão skyline from Ferragudo

As we mentioned in earlier posts, changing addresses here in Portugal, especially for immigrants, involves a lot of work (and costs) so we are hoping we will be able to stay in our current condo for as long as possible. The first step is to register at the Serviço de Finanças (Financial Office) in your local city to change the address on your Fiscal Number (NIF). This we accomplished easily and at no cost.

IMG_3385 (2)

We never tire of visiting Praia do Castelejo


We saw three other people on this day we visited

For immigrants the major change is you will need to provide SEF with any change in your address and have a new card issued. We arrived at SEF to do this and were told we needed a prior appointment. After several attempts of setting up an appointment we have one in mid-March. We understand you need a full security check again, picture re-take and fingerprints before a new card is issued. The charge for this is €40 per person.


Castelo de São João do Arade, Ferragudo

If you own a vehicle you will need to change the address on your Matrículas de Automóveis (registration). This is done at your local office of irn or Instituto dos Registos e do Notoriado. Be prepared for a bit of a wait (ours was over an hour) and to shell out another €30.

P_20171228_210855 (2)

There is always an interesting mix of vehicles on the streets of Portimão

One of the things we put off that we shouldn’t have, was to register for the National Health Care System. There is no cost associated with this and it gives you access to the public health system as well as reduced prices on prescription medications. It is relatively straightforward and you go to your local Centro de Saúde (which are operated by the National Health Service) and ask for a cartao de utente (citizen card). They will likely ask you for a Social Security card/number but we don’t have one as we are retired and not working here. It didn’t seem to be a problem although we have heard that some places were more adamant that you had one.

IMG_3235 (2)

Castelo de Silves


Brilliant blues in Salema

Our last hurdle was to exchange our Nova Scotia Driver’s Licences for Portuguese ones. For Canadian citizens this must be done within 3 months of acquiring your Residencia. You should check with the Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes (IMT) as the requirements are different for various non-EU countries. The full list of requirements with more background are on our Emigrating to Portugal page. If you do not get this exchange completed within the time allocated you will have to do a full Driver’s test in Portuguese, so we wanted to avoid that.


Mercado Municipal, Faro

There is only one IMT office in the Algarve (or Faro District) and that is in Faro which is about an hour from Portimão. Once we had all of our documents and had completed the required medical we headed to Faro. The wait in the office wasn’t too long and then we faced the ladies behind the desks (balcaos) which can be intimidating at times. It was also a little nerve wracking to hand over our Canadian licenses. Once that was done our pictures and electronic signatures were taken and more money changed hands. The fee associated with this is €30. We were issued temporary licenses and are patiently waiting for our new licenses to arrive in the mail.


Another colourful street, Faro

If this all sounds like quite a bit of work – it is. We set aside either a morning or an afternoon for any visit or appointment as lines can be long and most of the paperwork is filled out at the desks and is usually quite slow. For the most part we have been well treated but keep in mind that like in most parts of the world the bureaucratic process can be tedious and is not always a pleasant experience.

IMG_3400 (2)

Sunshine breaking through over the cliffs at Praia do Cordoama


These small wetlands at Boca do Rio held a nice variety of wading birds

Our overall thoughts on going through the processes here is that we are still quite amazed at how relatively easily we have been able to obtain residence. Perhaps the biggest challenges are the lack of good information and also what seems to be inconsistency in application of the rules. For the most part your own experience will depend on who you get at the desk and how you chose to deal with them. They prefer to speak Portuguese and the more you know of the language the better off you will be. Common sense and courtesy will go a long way to smooth the interactions but even that isn’t enough sometimes.

IMG_3334 (2)

The mouth of the River Arade

We are enjoying both our condo and our new home town very much. From what we have seen of alternatives and heard from others we are fortunate to have found a modern apartment with the amenities we have and in such a good location for the price. It works very well for us.


Estação CP Portimão

The longer we are in Portimão, the more we are finding it suits us. We can take a scenic walk along the Zona Ribeirinha (riverfront), it has all the shopping and services we need, most government services are available here, and it offers a good variety of cultural and recreational facilities. Some added bonuses are the very nice municipal mercado, bus and train access, a museum in the former sardine factory, a local futebol team, and businesses that are open year round.


There is always a great selection of fresh fish and seafood at the mercado


A big win for the home side. Final score Portimonense 4 – Rio Ave 1.

So as we move into the latter stages of winter and look forward to experiencing our first Algarve spring we are content and very pleased how our life is unfolding here.


Late in January the landscape comes alive with almond blossoms


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.
This entry was posted in Europe, Portugal and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Algarve Daily Living – January 2018

  1. Kemkem says:

    Nice recap. Glad you guys are settling in well. There are sure a lot of costs involved with address changes etc. We changed our address from Seville to Valencia at the bank and were told it would take a few months. We’re going on 10 months now with no change..haha! You definitely have to be proactive with things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Thanks Kemi. We are starting to feel “at home” now and are pleased with our choice to move here. It seems like the paperwork would never end but other than waiting for our new licences it seems to be done for now. You’re right in that you need to be proactive and keep on top of things. Hope you guys are both well – are there signs of spring over there yet? The almond blossoms are out in full force now here. Cheers, Tim & Anne


  2. Gilda Baxter says:

    Must have been so lovely to have your son visiting? Lovely to hear that you have settled in so well. The bureocracy and al the paper work needed is hard work but I guess it is like creating a whole new identity in a new country, certainly very worth while😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Hi Gilda. We really enjoyed having him here and being able to share some of places and activities that we enjoy so much. We can’t say that all of the paperwork is fun but it is certainly a requirement and very worthwhile. Now that most of it is looked after w can relax and enjoy life even more. Hope that you are enjoying your new home and that your plans for the year come together.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda says:

    Can you get automobile insurance there? And when you are out of Canada you give up your health care, correct?

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Hi Linda. Yes, car insurance is easy to get and very inexpensive compared to Canada. Less than 200 euro per year for full coverage. As for Canadian health insurance, the provincial coverage ends as soon as you make the permanent move. Fortunately we kept our government plan when we retired and have some international coverage through that. Public health care is available here and you can buy private insurance fairly reasonably.


  4. Jen Hall says:

    Enjoyed the pictures and your summary of your last month. You guys always paint such a vivid picture!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Joe says:

    It is heart-warming when your children take time from their friends and busy schedules to visit, especially in your new homeland. I appreciate the Lisbon to Algarve transport information, as we are hoping to make this trip with our daughter this May. The first class train trip looks comfortable and relatively inexpensive, and a train change in Tunes doesn’t sound too difficult. Glad you are making so much progress on your paperwork. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Hi Joe. We really enjoyed having the time with Erik over the holidays. It’s his last before graduation from university so who knows when we will have this opportunity. Are you down in Mexico now? It sounds like an interesting couple of months for you. By the sounds of it you are planning a trip over this way later in the spring? Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joe says:

        Hi Tim & Anne, We are in Mexico until May, and then we are going to visit our daughter who is working in Nice, France. From there, we are going to do some reconnaissance of a few places we might want to spend a month in the future. Thanks in part to your reporting, Lagos and the Algarve is high on our list. All the best.

        Liked by 1 person

      • timannehall says:

        Enjoy the sunshine, warmth and beaches of the Yucatan! We are heading back to Canada for a couple of weeks in May and then returning to Portimao. Perhaps we can meet face to face when you are over this way. All the best to you both!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joe says:

        Hi Guys, I think out dates in Lagos are around May 12-16. We rented an apartment near Praia Doña Ana in the Iberlagos complex. I hope we can meet up for a drink while we are there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • timannehall says:

        Hi Joe. We are in Canada during that time for Erik’s graduation so it seems like unfortunately we won’t be able to have that drink together – this time anyway. You will enjoy Lagos and that’s a great time of year.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Joe says:

        Hi Tim & Anne, Too bad our schedules aren’t cooperating, but congratulations to you and Erik. The Algarve is high on our list for a month-long stay sometime in the next few years. Hope to catch up with you then!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. homewithmon says:

    Love following your adventures and appreciate the helpful information. We are planning a visit to Portugal in the Fall 2018, and have made several notes from your suggestions!
    We plan to travel from Sevilla to the Algarve region…it seems the bus is the best mode of transportation?
    Looking forward to your next update 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      We’re so glad that you’ve enjoyed the posts and hope that the information helps in your planning. Yes, the bus is the simplest way of getting from Sevilla to the Algarve, and it goes all the way across to Lagos. Some of the trips make quite a few stops but it comfortable, safe, clean and inexpensive. You can search Alsa, Eva and Internorte as they all run services from Sevilla – Lagos. Happy planning. Tim & Anne


  7. Algarve is really astonishing and picturesque. I really hope to cross it off my bucket list soon, Ane! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • timannehall says:

      Hi Agnes. The Algarve has a lot to offer and there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. The surfing is well known and popular and there are wonderful hiking trails throughout the region. The food, wine and beaches are all excellent as well. It makes a great destination. Cheers! Tim & Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Love those puffy coats with a scarf- my version of Euro-stylin’! I think you’ve talked us into trying the train from Tunes (Erik looks pretty chilled in your photo) which will be pretty close to our new place. Great photos and looking forward to returning soon and resuming my Algarvian lifestyle with my “family” of good friends! Anita

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s