THINGS I DISLIKE ABOUT PORTUGAL (HATE IS A STRONG WORD)
Portuguese drivers – don’t get me started! They drive like maniacs (like Jenson Button on LSD). They tailgate, flash their lights and beep at you if they are behind you and want you to go faster. This is on major roads and also tiny narrow windy countryside lanes. The speed limit could be 70 kph and you could be driving 60 or 70 as it’s dark and mountain roads where you can’t see for shit with no barriers and some idiot wants to go 100 kph. I am quite a confident driver but I feel for nervous drivers here. Why are they in such a hurry? They also double park, triple park and my all time favourite just stop in the middle of the road for a chat parking. There are a few that flash you politely when they are going to overtake you – they are few and far between.
Bureaucracy – the Portuguese love their paperwork. You will soon come to realise that you will spend a lot of time completing paperwork. You need to make friends with the staff at The Junta de Freguesia, your local Câmara municipality as well as the Serviço de Finanças, be prepared to take a ticket and queue like a true Brit!
Lack of pavements – you risk your life walking and I often drive down the drain hole ditches.
Dogs, cockerels and church chimes – so when searching for a house I particularly paid attention to if there were any barking dogs in the neighbourhood and noisy cockerels as well as church bells/chimes. None of these were present when we visited the house twice or when we stayed for a week in Oct. Anyway fast forward to Jan 2020 and we now have a neighbour across from us who has chickens, a cockerel and a dog! Lucky for us we are quite isolated and their house is some distance away meaning that we don’t hear the cockerel unless we are in the garden but we hear the dog occasionally. Beware dogs in Portugal are often tied up outside 24/7 as guard dogs and they bark at every single sound or thing. One barks then that sets another dog off – all through the night! Church chimes/bells – I have no problem with these chimes going off throughout the day (which consist of a little tune followed by gongs for what the time is e.g. 11am hence 11 gongs). It’s great when you’re in the garden and want to know the time. The most irritating thing is they go off on the hour and every half an hour all through the day and night! It’s driving me crazy. They wake me up randomly throughout the night also they actually go off 10 minutes to the hour and twenty minutes past the hour – they can’t even set them right!!!!!
Rats – we have one in the roof – it freaks me out. I haven’t heard it for a few weeks so perhaps they have eaten the poison.
Passport – you have to carry your passport around with you when driving, the original one not a photocopy. This annoys me as I am going to lose it one day for sure.
Most places close for 2 hours at lunchtime – be aware.
No Amazon – you have to use Spain, Germany or the UK.
Common courtesy – Most people in Portugal have been great and accept that we are still learning the language. Not the doctor’s receptionist in Côja. She blatantly put a closed sign up mid way through a conversation and off she went for lunch!
Bacalhau – salted cod fish, sold everywhere, it stinks! I have elaborated more in the Food & Drink section.
Toilet seats – appear to be missing in many public toilets, be prepared in advance and practice your squatting technique (strong thighs). Lucky for me my weekly body pump class with Tiegan at Horfield Sports Centre was sufficient preparation, what can I say, I’m a pro!
Petrol is quite expensive and living in a remote village you have to drive long distances but very few journeys – often we don’t use the car for days.
Cobbled streets/paving – very nice but bloody hurt your feet when walking long distances and can be slippery.
The flies, mosquitoes and ants! The mossies are driving me nuts! I am being eaten alive. The flies are driving me insane too.
Electricity cuts – we have several and most only last for a few minutes but we can experience 6 or 7 consecutive power cuts and one lasted over 3 hours.
Oranges that hang over the road drop and cars run over them – it’s a nightmare to clean up.
Old stone walls which look rustic often collapse also roads/bridges – this is why you don’t want a new car here.
Stray dogs – We are lucky in our little village as I rarely see any stray dogs. Even when I jog through the next village I only occasionally see the odd stray dog. The dogs I do see near my village are not stray. They are in good condition and we have come to the conclusion that they just go off and take themselves for a walk. This is bloody dangerous! I witnessed a couple hit a small dog whilst jogging and they only stopped because I got my phone out with camera. They did not want to take it to the vet as the person who drops an injured animal off at the vet has to pay. They wanted to leave it to die at the roadside until I insisted they take it to a vet. We have encountered so many near misses with stray/loose dogs whilst driving in different areas of Portugal. It’s so dangerous as we often swerve to avoid the dogs which could cause a serious accident.
Tiled floors are not Iphone friendly – most of the flooring in Portugal is tiles so when you drop your phone it is not cushioned by soft carpet like the U.K. My phone has been dropped so many times and now has a few scratches/cracks. It’s only survived as I have a strong screen protector so be aware!
Lack of pricing – No one ever gives you a price up front unless it’s building work. For example we had to source a Notary for Wills and an Accountant for tax return. You ask what is a rough price for the service and they reply saying it depends. Then you reply and ask for a rough guide of a price (from and to) and they still don’t want to give you a straight answer. This also happens with things like Hairdressers. I messaged one to ask what is the price of half a head of high lights and a wash, cut and blow-dry on medium length hair and they just don’t want to give you a price. I often feel that they charge you whatever they think they can get out of you. Why are they so reluctant to state a price? It really annoys me as us Brits are not always rich!
Lack of websites – Most companies here don’t have a website, they only have a Facebook page. It’s frustrating beyond belief. Even restaurants don’t often have a website so you have to look on their Facebook page to check opening hours and message them for a menu.
Doctor’s receptionists – If you have managed to find a pleasant one then congratulations. Ours are rude and seem to treat Brits differently to Portuguese locals. They always turn me away and are very reluctant to make an appointment for me. It’s so frustrating and worrying when it’s my health concerned. I have only cried twice since I have been in Portugal and both times it was due to the nasty doctor’s receptionists. I am not the only person to say this and I know someone who always goes private even though they have signed up to a SNS doctor. They do this and pay extra just to avoid the receptionists. Once you get past the receptionist the doctors are great and I now have an amazing English speaking doctor. I thought that once I was signed up and got through the initial nightmare I had with original receptionist that I would be fine but that’s not the case. Both doctor’s surgeries that I visit have the same rude frontline staff. I just get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I know I have to visit the doctors.