In this post I am going to write about my expectations towards our stay in Portugal. I thought it would be nice to write down some expectations now, as it will be interesting to see how these expectations will match the reality. We will be staying in Portugal for three months, therefore my expectations differ quite a lot from a two week beach holiday’s expectations, for example. This time, the purpose is to just go and live normal life, but of course taking all out of the experience by exploring the area and country as much as possible. Below some expectations that come to my mind spontaneously regarding weather, daily life, cost of living, food and the culture.
What would be more important than the weather, right? Once writing this, it is no doubt the darkest time of the year in Finland; today it got dark already around 3pm here in Helsinki. That said, it is no secret that one of the main reasons behind choosing Portugal, is the fact that the days are longer and the weather is warmer than in Finland during winter. According to the statistics, the weather should be around 10-16 celsius degrees during January, and then gradually getting warmer each month. Despite knowing that the temperature could reach even 20 degrees in Algarve during winter, I am still not getting too excited about it, because even in Portugal, it is winter time. For example, when staying near the coast, I am expecting there to be windy, and for sure we will face some rainy and colder days. But that’s totally ok. As long as I will be able to see some more sunlight and not being forced to wear 5 layers of clothing under the winter jacket before going outside, I am more than happy! I’ll save the beach holidays for later.
Activities and daily life
My expectations towards the daily life do not differ that much from those in Finland. We are staying near all the necessary amenities, i.e. pharmacy, supermarket, restaurants and cafes, so I assume that the location will definitely make our life easy and convenient. What I’m looking forward for the daily life out of my working hours, are walks or runs around our neighborhood and in the coastline, discovering Algarve during the evenings and weekends, enjoying nice cafes and restaurants and doing sport activities such as playing golf or tennis.
Sounds pretty normal life, doesn’t it? That is because I don’t want to prepare every single detail, reserve fancy dinners or activities many weeks beforehand, as I want to live day by day and decide along the way what to do. I think there is no point to stress about the need to explore everything with a strict schedule, but rather to listen to myself and explore just on my own pace, doing things I feel like doing each day. Therefore, I will not put too high expectations towards the free time and weekends for example. On the other hand, it is true that three months will pass by relatively fast, so some kind of planning will be needed along the way.
Cost of living
Overall, the cost of living in Portugal is less expensive than in Finland. Our monthly rent in Algarve is cheaper compared to what we pay for our rental apartment here in Helsinki. I am pretty sure that we are going to make some savings also with the groceries and restaurant bills for example. However, as we are willing to travel around Algarve – and who knows explore other parts of Portugal as well – , play some golf and other sports, it is evident that those activities will cost money as well. The purpose is not to live on a strict budget for three months, because we want to take all out of the upcoming experience, and I am willing to put my money towards new, unforgettable experiences. On the other hand, we are not going to go crazy with the money spending either. Balance is key here.
First of all, I love food. To be honest, I don’t have that much expectations when it comes to food, as I am pretty sure I will not be disappointed to the food what Algarve has to offer. When traveling to Porto and Lisbon in 2019, one of the best memories were the great restaurants we were able to find. Actually, we didn’t even need to find them, as all the places we went were great. What I loved was especially meat and fish dishes. If I would need to choose one thing what I am expecting in terms of the food in Algarve, it would be seafood. Algarve is known of its multiple fishing villages, so I guess that the fish will be delicious out there. Not to forget, as a wine lover, I am looking forward to tasting local wines. It will be interesting to make some comparison between French wine from Bordeaux – to which I got very familiar during my exchange year – and Portuguese wines!
Culture, language & people
Despite having visited Porto and Lisbon, I cannot say that I would be very familiar with the Portuguese culture yet. Our visit was relatively short, and we didn’t interact with the local people that much during our stay. However, my first impression about Portuguese culture was positive. I have had the understanding that Portuguese people would not be as open and extroverts compared to the Spanish for instance. However, after the visit I could tell that Portugal as a country seems to be a bit more sophisticated than Spain, yet not as much as France. As I am very familiar with the French culture and the got to know the Spanish way of living and culture as well, Portugal seems to be a perfect combination of both of those worlds. I am looking forward to get to know some locals in Algarve!
What will be challenging for me, is the Portuguese language. I am fluent in French and English, and also understand some Spanish, however Portuguese is a totally unknown language for me. It seems to be very difficult to learn and seems that knowledge of French and Spanish do not help at all with the learning! In Algarve, I expect that people speak relatively well English, the area being filled with tourists during the summer time. Still, I feel a bit embarrassed not knowing anything in Portuguese other than just the basic “Hi, how are you” or “thank you”. Despite knowing that I will manage with English, I still want to promise myself to at least try to learn and use Portuguese as much as possible during our stay.
That was it for this this time, until the next post!
x Mari Susanna