Sunday, July 26, 2020

Portugal, The Next Chapter.....

After a long hiatus I decided to do a blog earlier this month about our first two years living in Portugal. But soon we will be moving onto the next chapter of our lives here, a move that takes us further south to Portugal's Algarve region.

A view of our new Home
Vila Bairos

Months of quarantine kept Clyde and I hanging out inside our rental house much of the time. Because we are both always cold we were looking forward to the hot days of summer. July came but still it was cold here on the Silver Coast. With temperatures in the low 60's at night and barely reaching mid 70's on a good day we were still chilly. Despite others posting photos of themselves being in swimming pools and on the beaches, we still kept heating the house with our pellet burner. Instead of dressing in shorts and flip flops we still wore long pants, long sleeves shirts and furry, winter slippers.

This is our second summer in Portugal and just like last year, this one seemed to offer us little to no hot weather. I began to keep an eye on the weather only to discover that everyone else in the country seemed to be enjoying the warm, lazy, hazy days of summer except for this area. Even way up north temperatures were warmer than here.

I badly needed and longed for some time in the sun. How I love to lay outside and feel my body bake under the warm, mid-day sun. Yes, I do realize that it's not healthy and am aware of the skin cancer risks, but a little Vitamin D is good for us and so I choose to indulge. Due to Covid we had not been traveling or going anywhere due to fear. Eventually I convinced Clyde to take a vacation to the Algarve region. I found a hotel online that boasted of the "clean and safe" seal. It meant they had been inspected and would adhere to special guidelines for sanitation. The list was posted on their website and I was so impressed, we decided it would be safe enough to venture out. And with tourism way down hotels all seemed to offer great deals to encourage people to visit.

We arrived to a nearly empty hotel where all staff wore masks, hand sanitizer was everywhere. Our ocean view room overlooked the expansive pool areas where we saw just one couple enjoying the sunshine.

The Pool, Notice it is empty

Over the next five days we drove around to explore the Algarve for a few hours every morning, then wasted away the afternoon hours poolside. The area offers a different kind of beauty than the central part of Portugal where we currently live. Here we enjoy vistas of green, lush rolling hills, farmland full of bountiful crops and charming stone buildings topped with orange tiled roofs. The Algarve features modern buildings, high rise housing complexes along the beaches, palm trees, water parks and typically would be filled with tourists in the summer. Temperatures are on the average 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than where we are living now in the Silver Coast.

Neat little area where there
were benches in the water
A "Swim up BarP"

We basked in the warm, dry weather and for the first time in two years, we were both warm. Clyde wore open toed shoes and shorts for the first time in years. I enjoyed putting on a summer dress and flip flops. The typical runny nose and post nasal drip from my allergies was gone and breathing for me was so much easier. Clyde seems to think because he has a very low blood pressure that his body cannot get warm. Perhaps it's because he has a pacemaker which keeps his heart at a steady beat of 60 beats per minute, his average blood pressure is 99/65/  Before his pacemaker, his normal heart was 40 beats per minute!  He got the pacemaker when we showed up at the hospital with a pulse of 15 in Spain. We did not even keep the air conditioner on inside of our hotel room because we enjoyed the feeling of heat so much. Instead we kept the sliding glass doors open and allowed the warm, sea breezes to blow inside.

Although we LOVE the area we currently live in, LOVE our rent house, LOVE our Portuguese landlady and LOVE the friends and activities we have come to enjoy here in Caldas da Rainha, we knew in order to be warm and happy, we would have to move south. Yes, it would cost more to live there, but what is the price of happiness?

Our Present Home

We decided to drive around to explore possible areas that we might want to live in, sometime in the future. Online we even viewed realtor websites to see just how expensive apartments would be down there to have an idea of prices. There was one apartment that popped up and seemed to speak to both of us. Although we were not ready to pick up and move anytime soon, we decided to make an appointment to see the apartment. While it looked perfect online the first thing we noticed upon arrival was that it offered absolutely NO heat or air conditioner. The property manager said she had another and we went to see that one too. Neither had what we wanted but later in the week a third one had everything on our list.

Buildings in Portugal are not insulated, windows are typically single panes of glass that offer no protection from heat and cold, and many offer no central heat. We knew in order to keep warm we needed to have a place with central heat, a newer, modern build with double glazed windows, and something much smaller that would be easy to heat and cool. If we had to live in an apartment complex we hoped for a small, quiet one and I was hoping for a pool. We needed two bedrooms, two bathrooms, parking and all of the modern conveniences. The Central Algarve appealed to us since it was close to an international airport, featured good hospitals and medical facilities, and we already had several friends that lived there.

Even though we were not really ready to make the move yet, when the right apartment found us we knew it was time to go.

But now came the hard part, the saying good bye to a house, area and people that we have come to know and love. First we would have to tell our landlady who we came to know and love, almost like family.

She has been absolutely wonderful to us from the first day she met us with double cheeked kisses. The challenge has been that she speaks no English, just Portuguese and French and upon arrival we spoke very little Portuguese. As our language skills improved we grew to know her a bit more, especially Clyde who challenged himself to chat with her in Portuguese. She lives and works in Lisbon and comes to stay at her house next door to ours for the occasional holiday. Often she would offer us tons of fruits and vegetables from her garden which we were encouraged to help ourselves to also. When we complained of the coldness in the house she offered to install a pellet stove, and Clyde offered to share the expense. The house is 40 years old and she also treated us to a brand new oven, stove and dishwasher during our time here. Through the years we have met her son and daughter, making her feel even more like a member of our family. We are so grateful for all that she has done for us and will truly miss her and this old house.

Before settling down in Portugal, those that follow this blog know that we were living as nomads for two full years. We left our home in Panama with two, carry-on sized suitcases each and traveled the world full time doing house and pet sitting. It was an easy transition to arrive here and put away the few things that we owned. But sadly, we went crazy once we settled in and began buying stuff. This week we purged, sold and gave away tons of stuff but still we had to hire a man with a van to help us move.

The sadness we both feel about leaving behind the house, friends and all that is familiar will soon be replaced by the excitement of beginning a new chapter in our lives. A new home, new friends to make and plenty of new areas to explore.

Our new home in the Central Algarve region is in Vilamoura, near the larger area of Quarteira. The nearby cities of Albufeira and Faro will provide us with plenty of shopping, medical facilities, an airport and more.
Part of the Vilamoura Beach

Vilamoura, considered to be the largest resort complex in all of Europe, boasts of beautiful, golden sandy beaches, world class golf courses, and one of the largest and prettiest marinas in the world. It was designed as an exclusive area that offers the best of everything for the rich and famous.

The Vilamoura Marina

Now where do we fit into to all of this? Since we are neither rich or famous? We just found an apartment that we liked and it just happened to be in Vilamoura. And the price was in line with others we'd seen elsewhere in towns that offered far less.

Nearby our apartment are manicured walking trails that go on forever, plenty of green spaces for relaxing, not to mention some of the most gorgeous beaches in the entire world. The Algarve has milder winters then the rest of Portugal, well over 300 days a year of sunshine, and some of the finest weather in all of Europe.

Our monthly rent will go from 350 euros per month to 850, but we will not be heating the place year round, so we will save money on pellets. We have been using three bags of pellets per day at a cost of 4 euros per bag. That's a total of 336 euros per month on average added to our rent now during the cold of the winter.. And although we are not using the stove all day in the summer, we still use it on occasion.

So as we bid farewell to the Silver Coast area of Portugal we look forward to our new life in the Algarve. Stay tuned for photos as we explore the new world of southern Portugal......along the gringo trail.

1 comment:

  1. So glad that I found your blog! Looks like I have some catching up to do. The Algarve is beautiful, almost like a different country from the Silver Coast. We first fell in love with Portugal while visiting Lagos. Almost ended up there but so many things to consider. So glad you found your spot. We will check it out when things normalize a bit more. Enjoy your new home!


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