• Obviously the weather – we have just had a glorious spell of really hot weather in February and March. A relative recently messaged me ‘Do you ever get bored of the continual sunshine?’ Ha Ha, short answer Hell No! We do get rain too so a spell of nice sunny weather is interrupted by a rainy spell which is great for the garden.
  • The slower pace of life – the Portuguese are very relaxed about things!
  • A little country with a big heart.
  • History – archaeological treasures: bridges, castles, palaces, towers, cathedrals, churches, canals and monasteries.
  • It’s one of the safest countries in the world to live.
  • Culture – music genre ‘Fado’. Fado music is traditional Portuguese melancholic folk songs usually sung by a solo artist accompanied by a Portuguese guitar and portrays a wide range of emotions e.g. love, sorrow, sadness, tragedies, grief, nostalgia etc.
  • Festivals and celebrations – so many festivals throughout the year. Most involve costumes, parades, colour, fireworks, performances, song and great food and drink.
  • The main religion in Portugal is Catholic – there are many nativity scenes around Portugal at Christmas time. I love a nativity scene and it brings me back to my childhood, attending church celebrations.
  • The food – don’t get me started on the cakes. Cakes here are made with tons of eggs – the Portuguese do love an egg – on top of burgers and pizzas etc. lucky for me I love eggs.
  • The people are so friendly and welcoming except for the receptionist at the Côja doctors surgery – she needs a social skills/customer service course ASAP. Everyone we pass says Bom Dia or Boa Tarde or just Tarde. Rarely would a stranger in Redland, Bristol say this to you if you walked down the street. Also in almost every shop I visit an employee asks me if there is anything they can help with – such politeness and joy.
  • The beautiful little rural villages frozen in time and stunning cities. We completed a self guided walking tour of Porto, it’s beautiful. Coimbra is also lovely but hilly and is home to the oldest university in Portugal. We haven’t visited Lisbon yet.
  • The beaches (crystal turquoise blue waters and white sand) and river beaches.
  • Salt water pools, natural pools and waterfalls.
  • Beautiful sea caves and rock formations.
  • Stunning mountains, forests, natural parks, nature reserves and national park.
  • Water parks.
  • Coastal trails.
  • The fontes – there are tons of little natural water fountains with beautiful Portuguese tiling.
  • Tiles – I love the Portuguese tiles, especially the blue and white on churches and the train station in Porto.
  • Local goods to buy: pottery, embroidery and cork.
  • Wine, port, winery and wine cellars.
  • The landscapes (breathtaking scenery) – we have the most epic views from our mountain house, I never get bored of looking at them or watching the sun set listening to the stream and birds chirping away.
  • The blue skies, cloud formations, sunsets and night time skies.
  • The mountains – we live close to the mountains and I can’t wait to go hiking and skiing at Christmas. 
  • Olive trees – you can pay someone to collect the olives and press them into olive oil for you.
  • The cafes – Portugal has so many cafes and they are so cheap compared to the UK. I often wondered why there were so many cafes but no corner shops as we have so many corner shops in the UK but I have quickly realised that cafes are very cheap here so people always venture out to a cafe for lunch. Sitting outside at a cafe in the sunshine and enjoy an espresso for 50 cents most days of the year is truly wonderful.
  • Picking oranges straight from the garden and pressing them for juice.
  • The local markets.
  • The cost of living is far cheaper than the UK.
  • House prices.
  • Parking costs (car parks) are really cheap, a little more expensive in cities but cheap compared to the UK.
  • Jogging in the countryside past goats, sheep, lambs and chickens – restarted my weekly jog and so scenic yet hilly, very different from trying to avoid walkers and pushchairs on Durdham Downs, Bristol and the trail is not littered with used condoms or silver illegal high gas cylinders.
  • No rush hour or crazy traffic – we live in Central Portugal.
  • Interesting wildlife and so many birds, bees and butterflies.
  • Supermarkets – they are huge and most shopping malls have a huge supermarket which sells a lot of home wear for the house as well as food and drink. 
  • Opening hours – Major shops and malls are open until 11pm/Midnight and many are also open on Sundays too. This is great as it means you can finish work at 5pm and drive an hour to Coimbra and still have several hours in a shopping mall before they close. Having the flexibility is great. Shopping malls are very quiet compared to Bristol. I suppose this may change in the summer months.
  • Attractive statues and monuments are everywhere and in random places like the middle of roundabouts.
  • Outdoor leisure activities – Hiking, biking, surfing and cliff fishing. Exercising in the great outdoors, beats a stuffy indoors gym any day and saves money.
  • The natural look – I love waking up later every day and gardening in the sunshine without having to put make-up on or fix my hair, I can even go braless and no one cares! Under a t.shirt of course, we are not naturists! I have only worn make-up and straightened my hair on a handful of occasions since I have been here. It’s nice to let my skin breathe.
  • Alfresco dining – just adore it. Eating outdoors gives me a warm magical feeling.
  • Lost in time – not having to wear a watch or have a clock in the house. If you are gardening and need to know the time just listen out for the church chimes.
  • Goat selfie anyone? I have joined a couple of Facebook groups and am enjoying the goat selfies and videos of people jogging with their donkey – brings a smile to my face.
  • Holistic living – permaculture in Portugal, the eco-village communes/communities and sustainable living.
  • Drying washing – the simple task of being able to hang my washing on a washing line and dry clothes and bedding in the sunshine is fantastic. After living in a flat for 8 years and having to dry clothes by hanging it around a tiny flat which encouraged moisture, damp and mould or alternatively tumble dry it and risk shrinking it so it fits a Barbie doll, it just makes a refreshing change.
  • Bidets – we don’t have bidets in the UK and when I arrived I just thought they were a wasted space in the bathroom. Also I was unsure on how you dry off. Do you run around to air off or have a personal mini towel each – I’m still a little unsure. My plan was to get rid of them and not to replace them when we get our bathrooms refurbished. Fast forward to our current situation March 2020 with people in the UK actually physically fighting over toilet rolls and I think the Portuguese have it all worked out, bidets are the way to go. We have 2 so can have 1 each. I am currently still going down the traditional route of toilet paper as we have no shortages here at present and have only trialled out the bidet once but I would definitely have bidets in our new bathrooms. Top tip – make sure the water temperature is set to an adequate soothing warm flow. A cold blast around my lady bits was a shock to the system which took me a few days to recover!
RECENT ‘CARNIVAL’ CELEBRATION IN CÔJA.