Algarve after three weeks – how does it actually feel like living here?
Three weeks have gone by here in Portugal, but honestly speaking, it already feels that I have been here for way longer. As things have become more and more familiar, this place really feels like home. In this post, I am going to share my honest feelings on how things have gone so far, and what it actually feels like spending winter time in Algarve. First, let me start with some positive stuff. I couldn’t be happier that we chose this apartment among many choices, as there is still nothing to complain and all is working more than fine in our apartment! Quarteira as a location turned out to be just perfect for our needs; the town itself is pretty authentic, not feeling like a holiday resort, but an actual town. Also, it is located quite in the center of Algarve, meaning that the distances to both to the west and east side of Algarve are not too far away by car. Another thing that makes me happy each and every day is the view from our apartment. We are in 8th floor so I can get the daily D-vitamin doze – that I almost never got from my apartment in Helsinki – only by opening the big windows from the kitchen or living room. Also, having the beach only in 5mins walking distance is definitely a plus! If you ever come visit Algarve and look for an airbnb in this area, let me know. I truly can recommend this place if it is still available!
One factor that keeps my familiar routines ongoing here, is work. I am not on vacation here, but I work remotely. I actually have pretty stressful times at work, a lot of things going on and I need to work some overtime due to the situation. I will make a separate post about work later on, because I have a lot to tell about this topic. But shortly I can already tell, that I have done a lot of thinking about my values and about work and life in general, and have even been questioning my choices that have led me where I am now. Am I where I want to be, or would I want something to change? If you are interested my thoughts about those deeper topics, stay tuned, I will for sure tell about those things more later on.
I will be taking two weeks off during my time here in Portugal, but the rest of the time I am working normally during business hours. The time difference to Finland is minus two hours, which means that I start my working day here at 6am local time (in order to work during the same hours than my colleagues in Finland). Before arriving, these early mornings were stressing me a little, as I am not the best at waking up early. But surprisingly I can now say that waking up at 6am has been easy! Somehow I’ve been able to live by the Finnish schedule and go to bed already at 8pm local time (10pm Finnish time). Actually, that hasn’t required any effort, as I am getting so tired already after 7pm haha! This rhythm of day has been very suitable and I don’t feel that I miss anything from the late evenings. The restaurants are not open late evenings here due to Covid, and it gets dark here by 6pm, therefore there isn’t actually much to do after the sun is down.
As described, the weekdays here in Algarve are pretty normal. Nothing extreme, and especially nothing too fancy. Just normal life; waking up, working, going for a run or walk by the beach, going to groceries, preparing dinner, enjoying maybe a glass of cheap (but so good!) Portuguese red wine and talk about life. What makes this all a bit special and more enjoyable is this new place and good weather, of course. The normal routines feel much more enjoyable when I can watch the sea and sun from morning to evening and go by the beach whenever I want, or take the car and explore a new place during evenings after work. I for sure can tell that I feel more energized here versus in the cold and dark Finland. But despite all this, I am still the same person with the same thoughts than before coming here. I have learnt already many years ago when traveling to different places, that people cannot escape their thoughts or oneself just by changing the environment. Of course environment can impact on some feelings and can boost creativity, for instance, but the actual change always comes from within.
The winter time here in Algarve is definitely more silent than summer time, and I actually enjoy it. It is nice to explore some places but at the same time really have peace when doing it. I maybe wouldn’t have said this few years ago, but I guess the pandemic time has had its impact; I don’t need that much crazy activities or people around me than before. Also here, the slow pace it is visible; older people are enjoying their peaceful retirement days, walking by the sea with their dogs or sitting and enjoying the weather, whereas young people seem to focus on working out; running and working out outdoors with a personal trainer seems to be a thing here. Of course it is obvious that the Covid situation has an impact on social life here. When it comes to me and my boyfriend, most of our social interaction outside our apartment has happened in grocery stores, restaurants or golf courses. But that’s totally fine.
Speaking of the locals and their outdoor training, I totally get them; one of the things that I really enjoy doing here is going for a run by the beach. Running is something I also do back in Finland every now and then, but I very easily lose my interest in it after two or three times. I am not sure whether it is the environment, or the fact that I can literally run by the beach for more than 5kms in a row, but running feels much more easy, fun and even meditative here, very different than back in Finland. I would also say that it is the optimal running weather here during this time of the year when it is between 15 and 20 degrees, which is not too hot or too cold. A very good tip for all of you who might lack or lose motivation on working out after a while; come and try it in Algarve, and you will love it! In general, there are plenty of sports possibilities here; a lot of padel and tennis courts, multiple golf courses, hiking trails, surfing etc.
To keep this real and honest, I need to point out something that I am not too proud of, which is my Portuguese language skills. Portuguese still feels very difficult to learn. I have never been so lost with a language in my life. It feels that I cannot even hear what people are saying to me, as they are not articulating that well (or that’s how I interpret it). Ok, I need to say that I have had very limited amount of conversations with locals so far – and again, the pandemic has an impact on this of course as well – so it is no surprise that I just don’t learn basically anything. I almost feel embarrassed that I cannot even formulate a single sentence in the grocery store – or any other place – , just saying “bom dia” (good day), keep smiling like a stupid person in between, and finally and say “obrigada” (thank you) after the payment and then feel the relief that the situation is over. Sounds ridiculous, right? I’ve always thought that languages is my thing, but oh well.. That said, I promise to improve and will hopefully have some good news regarding this topic after these months! 😀
That was it for the this time! As predicted, the daily life here looks pretty much the same than in anywhere else, but it gets more exciting during the weekends! On weekends we are off work and then we like to hit the road and go explore something new. We have taken a few road trips already around Algarve (as you can tell from the pictures already) and in next posts I am going to share some tips of some “must see” places if you’ll ever visit this beautiful place!
x Mari Susanna