Today I was asked to share my thoughts on Portugal in one of the Facebook groups I am part of. There is a family that wanted to visit. So I gave them my own run down of what I think of my home country...
The midlands of Portugal in the summer are like the baking deserts and the winter like muddy wetlands... (depending on year) If you like beach and go to the beach near the midlands, you will find miles and miles of beautiful beach totally empty... So its yours for the taking! (up near Coimbra etc) Rents and stays can be very very cheap!
Lisbon (and its surrounds) is a bustling city with crazy drivers... seriously... Road rage? Rally? All in the city... But some beautiful monuments and architecture from the renovation after 1755 earthquake. (and... very expensive as is expected)
The Algarve where we are based is stunning. It can be very expensive to rent etc but beach views and clean air are often worth it! We are in January and we have had a couple of days rain and a storm in 6 weeks! BUT, the majority of the time we have had sunshine and warm days - great for bike rides!
We have Beaches that are popular with the tourists and food that is suntouched just about everywhere - falling to the ground uneaten!
If you like healthy organic farmers markets, it can be much cheaper than in UK (everything is local or from next door in spain!)... and Ready meals can work out more expensive!
We are Vegan with some gluten intolerances... and THAT is tough, but even so, it can be done!
Fresh fish (caught one hour before), and bread are in good supply if you know where to look!
Portuguese people are generally friendly, very talkative and very nosey and even a bit judgmental - they will tell you what they think without a problem. Culturally there is lots of heritage and lots of patriotisum.
They appreciate foreigners who try to speak the language, and while there are those that try to rip off foreigners by charging 20 - 30% more on a bill, if you speak a bit of the lingo they don't try (in our experience!)
Most are kind and bend over backwards to help you.
There are some stunningly beautiful places, historic areas (castles etc) and many old fashioned pebble floored roads like was normal in use 200-300 years ago - don't wear high heels! lol
Hotels and hostels CAN get expensive if there are holidays or parties, carnivals etc.... So make sure!
Economically its not great. People are struggling - yet smiling!
Technology CAN be more expensive than in other places, or can be cheaper once exchange rates are considered!
Healthcare is under a tight squeeze because of the cuts and other issues (my father in law is a Nurse in the hospital in Faro)
There is no benefit system! families are struggling.
More than 1 child is considered crazy... we have 3!
Life is simple. Life is good. People come together more often for a coffee or cake. Its just lovely.
If staying and living for a few months, it is very pretty, very cultural and very much home to me and my family!
So... Come on over!"
In summary: I love my home country.
However I am not "fixed" to it.
I will travel with a Portuguese flag, but my identity? I want it to be World Wide... That is why we will do what we are doing!
We are a Christian Home-Schooling, plant-food-based family, traveling and making the most of this life and sharing it with our 3 wonderful kids!