I can't believe it's been two months since my last blog, where did the time go? We have been busy but we've also adopted more than a bit of the relaxed Portuguese lifestyle. We both feel that the 3 years prior to coming here were jammed packed with a mixture of fun, adventure and extreme busy-ness. After our 'down month' in Sesimbra and our move to Lagos, we started to enjoy the wonderful reality of retirement. Waking up each day knowing that we could do whatever we wanted or nothing at all, combined with very limited responsibilities has been heavenly. Perhaps that's why I haven't felt too much pressure to put together another blog post. We are living the dream as they say and loving it!
Our two months in Lagos were fantastic, we stayed in a townhouse right on Meia Praia beach which was about a 25 minute walk from the town center. I started volunteering at a local dog shelter, going one or twice a week to help walk the dogs. The facilities were very different from the municipal shelters we have in the US. All of the pens are outdoors, very large with covered shelters, houses and sun loungers which allow the dogs to get up off the ground during the wet winter months. Most pens have 2 or 3 dogs in them so they aren't isolated and most of the time, they are all very peaceful and relaxed. It was a great experience and I've found another shelter to volunteer at where we are now.
Christmas was quite a different experience for us, with no tree, no presents and only one string of Christmas lights. Luckily for Conrad, the town had lots of decorations, which we both enjoyed. We went out one evening to hear a Christmas Choir and had Christmas dinner at a local restaurant.
We had a very different New Years Eve as well by going into Lagos for a concert at the town square and a fireworks show. Like many places in Portugal, Lagos had not had a big New Years Festas (Party) since Covid. So the town was hopping, by Midnight, the square was packed and the promenade along the marina filled with those who wanted a close up view of the fireworks. A fantastic fun and friendly vibe made for a memorable evening.
Another highlight of our stay in Lagos was when Ruth and Ger (Con's sister and brother) came to visit. Although the weather was cold, we did have sunshine every day of their visit. We toured around a bit with them, ate heartily and along with three new friends had a great 66th Birthday celebration for Conrad.
We spent many days driving around the surrounding coastal towns, looking to see where we might move after Lagos. We found a lot of lovely beaches and gorgeous coastal scenery, but most of the towns didn't appeal to us. One of the biggest turnoffs was the amount of apartment block buildings running right along the beach front, some 3-5 stories high, other 20 stories high. There is also a lack of green spaces in many of these towns. The only places that have a lot of greenery are the purpose built resorts, which feel a bit sterile and once you are in them, you could be anywhere in the world. We always felt that we wouldn't want to live permanently in the Algarve and our exploration of those towns has cemented those feelings.
We moved to our latest town, Manta Rota on the 6th of February. It is a very small tourist beach town on the far eastern side of the Algarve, located mid-way between Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António (VRSA). We would have preferred to have been in VRSA, but couldn't find a place there that met our criteria and our budget. So we decided on this little village, where we have a nice big townhouse with a backyard (95% hardscape!) and just a couple minutes walk from the beach. It feels a bit like zombie-ville as most of the housing is completely empty, most of the restaurants are closed and the whole place just feels deserted. It does have a lovely beach though and we are within 10 miles of the two larger towns mentioned above. We went to a social meet-up last night, I found an outdoor areobics class that's held twice a week, Con has joined the Pool in Tavira and we managed to find a lovely restaurant here for Valentine's Day, so as long as we don't get bit by any zombies, we'll be just fine!
Praia de Salema - warm enough for us all to get our toes wet!
Praia de Salema - Lola snapping at the waves
Rio Arade Channel - Portamão - sorry about the speed!