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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just looking for opinions here! What do you think are the best, and the worst, aspects of life in Portugal?

Just to get you started, here are some of my best and worst:

Best:

The people. Nearly everyone we know or have met in Portugal has been friendly, helpful, and polite.

The climate. Coming from the miserable weather in the UK, Portugal is like a dream. Not just warmth and sun, we are not sunbathers, but the welcome low humidity - my arthritis is so much easier, and to be able to dry sheets outside in an hour or so... not that some rain wouldn't be welcome now, to help with the terrible fires, filling the rivers and barragems etc.

The landscape. Rather diminished by the dreadful fires, but there is still so much to admire in the Portuguese landscape. For a small country, it has such an abundance of varied wildlife, both animal and vegetal.

The public services. The health service, police, and other services - and especially the fire service! They seem to be supported and admired, and to do a good job. They do a good job in the UK too - but are under appreciated, and underpaid!

Worst:

The food. I'm not just talking about eating out here (we rarely do). I'm talking about the variety of foodstuffs that are available, and the average Portuguese diet, which seems to have too much salt, too much sugar, and be mostly soft. The climate should mean one could grow almost anything in the way of fruit and vegetables, but most of what we have grown from the seeds and plants available taste of very little, and what you can buy are often limited in choice and well past their best. Lots of vegetables - celery, artichokes, spring onions, beetroot, really fine green beans etc. are rarely found. Most of the vegetables seem to end up in soup, almost always pureed. Herbs seems to be limited to parsley, oregano and coriander leaf, this last the one herb I really cannot stand - as for 10% of the European population, it tastes like soap to me! Where is the basil, the dill, the chervil and tarragon? Where are the spices? Piri Piri is the only one commonly used, even then only on chicken, and cinnamon for sweet stuff. I am happy to make a curry from scratch, and enjoy Chinese food a lot - but I cannot buy the ingredients to make it: why not, when there is a large Chinese population? I asked at our local Chinese shop; the answer was "The Portuguese do not like foreign food - in the UK, Chinese immigrants opened a restaurant; in Portugal they had to open a shop." But the favourite bacalao is "foreign". It comes from Norway! It's soaked, and cooked with other soft ingredients, to make yet another dish for people who don't use teeth!

We inherited a garden in Portugal with apple, pear and peach trees. None of the fruit has any flavour at all! I could go on, but really...

Apart from the food, and the prevalence of eucalyptus, which should never have been introduced, and should all be removed as soon as possible - the other really bad things in Portugal IMHO are the standard of driving (why is everyone obsessed with overtaking, even when over the speed limit, or on a blind corner), and the truly dreadful Portuguese TV - rolling news with little detail, cartoons, football, fake festas, bimbo pop, and endless ads!

Having said all that, I love Portugal, and the good outweighs the bad. Maybe I'm just letting off steam. We've had a nasty virus for 2 weeks, and once again the air outside is tainted with smoke from the endless fires, so we are stewing inside feeling sorry for ourselves. There's nothing we fancy to eat, having been sick for a while, and nothing even on the telly!

What do others think? What are your pet likes and dislikes about Portugal?
 

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Before moving to Spain, Portugal was one of the countries of choice for retirement (we started with seven possibles) and the only thing that ruled out PT was SWMBO who said that she didn't really want to learn another language at her age (48 at the time- the same age as when I first started to learn Spanish) - she is tri-lingual (English, French and Spanish.) The reason you don't find spring onions, is they are the seedlings that go to make bigger onions so they leave them to grow bigger (you can grow your own). Here, just next door, celery, artichokes, beetroot are plentiful. What do you mean by fine green beans? If you mean runner beans - we have been buying them from mid-October last year right through to June but they aren't called runner beans because they aren't but they are flat beans, slightly flatter than runners but use them the same way and very few people would notice a difference. All the vegetables have good flavour and the fruit is good although harvested a little too soon (with export in mind) so sometimes lacks flavour.

If you can't find what you want, pop over into Spain where you will probably be satisfied - go to Mercadona supermarkets for a good range especially of spices and stock up on everything you want or miss. One things we don't seem to get which is common in Portugal is 3 milk cheese.
 

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The best thing is the ordinary people but there are tons of other really good things as well.

The worst is the attitude of the owners of commercial woodland plantations who seem to be almost a different species to the ordinary people........ not only have they planted without a care of the legal firebreak laws they don't seem to even care that their actions have done so much damage........ I've heard 2 in 2 weeks bemoaning their loss of wood & money but not even commented on the loss of lives, livelihoods & homes etc.

Language & bureaucracy are my other problems but I'm getting over the former & learning to deal with the latter the Portuguese way which is to ignore it. ;)
 

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I've heard 2 in 2 weeks bemoaning their loss of wood & money but not even commented on the loss of lives, livelihoods & homes etc.
How long will it take for these eucalyptus farmers to realise that it would be cheaper to clean their land than lose the entire crop?

Sorry Easyriders. Back to your thread.
 

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That's really interesting.

For me ( here in Madeira) the best includes:-
Friendly people.
Fabulous weather
Amazing landscape - Madeira is the size of Reading, but 200m higher than Ben Nevis, which inevitably leads to some amazing landscapes.
Public services aren't quite so shiny- they seem a bit overrun. Adequate rather than excellent.

Food here is excellent - the best veg I've ever had - especially potatoes, which I hate in the UK because of their blandness, but are absolutely stunning here. Meat is of excellent quality, and very tasty - even plain old chicken! How come the lamb here is better than Wales? And the eggs are fab.
Greens are excellent too, as are the bananas.
Choice varies a lot - and is very seasonal, but I don't mind that really.

Worst

Drivers ( and to be honest, the majority of people in everyday lives ) don't seem to understand the concept of choices and consequences - choose to pass on a blind bend, and you might hit the big white bus taking up the whole of the road! It's not an envy or "rat race" thing, they just drive faster than you, and don't consider life beyond the end of the bonnet. Or, they don't think when pulling out in front of you - it simply doesn't enter their universe. It's best to ignore it and get on with your own life.

In respect to driving habits, many tourists are just as bad though - often just stopping when they feel like, and ignore the fact that there's a bloke on a motorbike full on the brakes while they amble through a u-turn in the middle of a blind bend. They seem quite shocked when I shout at them in English!

Mechanics - ( but to be honest, I'm quite happy with this). Here, they will do all sorts of bodges to keep the car on the road. By the time I get the car, the problem is usually quite serious, and needs some major surgery. Again, I think this is the choices and consequences thing... do the job right once, or do it wrong many times. This "make do" attitude can be a very positive thing - why use a JCB when labour is €6 an hour. They don't use floor planers, they use a lot of people with jackhammers! But at times, it can be a liability.

Getting hold of parts. Due to the island nature of Madeira, it tricky to get stuff sent here - especially whole engines due to flight restrictions, and parts take upward of 2 weeks to get here. Annoying when running a business. Hopefully, the new ferry will help matters.

People don't call back. 95% of any job is simply being there - calling back etc,. I'm trying to get the garage floor resurfaced, and finally found a builder who actually called me back! Wahoo.

Paper trail - can be quite exasperating.
 

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That's really interesting.

For me ( here in Madeira) the best includes:-
Friendly people.
Fabulous weather
Amazing landscape - Madeira is the size of Reading, but 200m higher than Ben Nevis, which inevitably leads to some amazing landscapes.
Public services aren't quite so shiny- they seem a bit overrun. Adequate rather than excellent.

Food here is excellent - the best veg I've ever had - especially potatoes, which I hate in the UK because of their blandness, but are absolutely stunning here. Meat is of excellent quality, and very tasty - even plain old chicken! How come the lamb here is better than Wales? And the eggs are fab.
Greens are excellent too, as are the bananas.
Choice varies a lot - and is very seasonal, but I don't mind that really.

Worst

Drivers ( and to be honest, the majority of people in everyday lives ) don't seem to understand the concept of choices and consequences - choose to pass on a blind bend, and you might hit the big white bus taking up the whole of the road! It's not an envy or "rat race" thing, they just drive faster than you, and don't consider life beyond the end of the bonnet. Or, they don't think when pulling out in front of you - it simply doesn't enter their universe. It's best to ignore it and get on with your own life.

In respect to driving habits, many tourists are just as bad though - often just stopping when they feel like, and ignore the fact that there's a bloke on a motorbike full on the brakes while they amble through a u-turn in the middle of a blind bend. They seem quite shocked when I shout at them in English!

Mechanics - ( but to be honest, I'm quite happy with this). Here, they will do all sorts of bodges to keep the car on the road. By the time I get the car, the problem is usually quite serious, and needs some major surgery. Again, I think this is the choices and consequences thing... do the job right once, or do it wrong many times. This "make do" attitude can be a very positive thing - why use a JCB when labour is €6 an hour. They don't use floor planers, they use a lot of people with jackhammers! But at times, it can be a liability.

Getting hold of parts. Due to the island nature of Madeira, it tricky to get stuff sent here - especially whole engines due to flight restrictions, and parts take upward of 2 weeks to get here. Annoying when running a business. Hopefully, the new ferry will help matters.

People don't call back. 95% of any job is simply being there - calling back etc,. I'm trying to get the garage floor resurfaced, and finally found a builder who actually called me back! Wahoo.

Paper trail - can be quite exasperating.
I REALLY sympathise with your point about getting or should that be NOT getting parts.

My classic Jeep is the only one in the country & all parts have to be imported from the USA which not only costs a fortune in taxes but also takes forever! :mad:

She's been off the road for months now just for want of a head gasket kit. :(
 

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I REALLY sympathise with your point about getting or should that be NOT getting parts.

My classic Jeep is the only one in the country & all parts have to be imported from the USA which not only costs a fortune in taxes but also takes forever! :mad:

She's been off the road for months now just for want of a head gasket kit. :(
Just a thought, but there are specialists in the UK - you might be better off sourcing one from there, as it would avoid taxes, and they speak English.

I know that they mainly deal with the army era jeeps, but Dallas Autoparts in the UK might be a good starting point for parts.

Failing that, if you let me know the details of the engine, I'll see what I can dig up - I have quite a few trade contacts in the UK that might be able to help.

Mike.
 

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Mike,

I've tried ordering from various dealers in the UK (such as American Autoparts) but their prices & postage are so ridiculous it's not true.

I now find the best way to do it is to order from the US where for example I can get a top end gasket kit for USD60 and have them send it to an American friend who can bring smallish parts over when he comes.

The engine is a 5.9 litre AMC360 V8 and current requirement is a top end gasket set.

Oh and a mechanic that knows V8s lol!
 

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Mike,

I've tried ordering from various dealers in the UK (such as American Autoparts) but their prices & postage are so ridiculous it's not true.

I now find the best way to do it is to order from the US where for example I can get a top end gasket kit for USD60 and have them send it to an American friend who can bring smallish parts over when he comes.

The engine is a 5.9 litre AMC360 V8 and current requirement is a top end gasket set.

Oh and a mechanic that knows V8s lol!
TM - I have somebody coming over from the US in October if that helps at all.
 

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Dallas are usually good. Best bet is to give them a ring, and see what they can do.

I collate parts in a uk address when the shipping is too expensive or not available.
I'm back in the uk at the end of the month for about a month to look after my mum, so I can forward something onward if you want.

Give me a few days to see what I can turn up.
I can usually get just about anything - sorting out sensible shipping is the difficult bit.
 

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The good news is I've had the garage door men here today & they cut the welded garage doors free so I was able to check the old girl over & she fired up a treat (other than the head gasket) & after a short test drive she does everything she should & nothing she shouldn't & only needs a damn good wash & polish which she'll get tomorrow!

Can't express what a weight off my mind that is. :)
 

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The good news is I've had the garage door men here today & they cut the welded garage doors free so I was able to check the old girl over & she fired up a treat (other than the head gasket) & after a short test drive she does everything she should & nothing she shouldn't & only needs a damn good wash & polish which she'll get tomorrow!

Can't express what a weight off my mind that is. :)
Great news TM and another step closer to normality.
 

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My classic Jeep is the only one in the country & all parts have to be imported from the USA which not only costs a fortune in taxes but also takes forever! :mad:
The engine was last produced in 1991 by a now defunct company. Thus new parts are produced in small batches, hence the wait. Leftist governments strongly support import duties and taxes. Why the :mad:? I'd be shocked if parts were both easy to find and reasonably priced.
 

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But equally no end of units were produced & fitted into many different models over decades...... the spares are readily available in the US from specialist suppliers but what kills it are the iniquitous taxes which I have to pay not only on cost of spare but also on postage & packing...... sometimes the cost of taxes/IVA are more than the cost of the spare itself.
 

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Mike,

I've tried ordering from various dealers in the UK (such as American Autoparts) but their prices & postage are so ridiculous it's not true.

I now find the best way to do it is to order from the US where for example I can get a top end gasket kit for USD60 and have them send it to an American friend who can bring smallish parts over when he comes.

The engine is a 5.9 litre AMC360 V8 and current requirement is a top end gasket set.

Oh and a mechanic that knows V8s lol!
im not sure where you are based but i know a very good mechanic in Boliquieme who looks after a lot of top end cars and does work on my sons Gallardo
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
We seem to have got off into car spares! Seriously, people must have some other views on best and worst in Portugal, surely? And no, I don't mean runner beans, horrible things! I mean really thin, narrow French beans, tender and delicious! They grow them in France, Spain. Italy and Africa - so surely they could grow them in Portugal? The beans they grow here are mostly to be dried (or canned) for winter, the same mentality that still worships dried salted fish - as if refrigeration had never been invented (though I notice nobody bothers making their own chips, even restaurants use those awful thin frozen ones!)

Around this time of year we watch huge trailers full of beautiful yellow and red peppers going past, on their way to the (Belgian owned) frozen food factory. They do not appear in the markets or the shops - just dried up wrinklies there. We are also watching every remaining field around us being ploughed ready to be planted for olives. At least it's not eucalyptus - but there are already thousands and thousands of olives around here, it's just becoming a monoculture. Fair enough, if the olives were looked after the old fashioned way, and brought some benefit to local people. But they don't. The new plantations being put in around here are Spanish owned and 100% mechanised. Furthermore, the olive tress are planted close together, like hedges, so that machines can harvest them, and they are irrigated all year round and sprayed with chemicals. The irrigation involves about 8 kilometers of pipe being laid to pipe water from the nearest barragem - which is already desperately low.

Local people disapprove of the whole thing, they prefer to continue to harvest olives grown the old way, no irrigation, no chemicals. Some years have poor harvests, but that is true of most things grown in a non-intensive way; they try to mix olives with growing other things, or grazing animals. Now the land is being taken up with monoculture, and the people who live here were never asked for their opinion.

That's really one of the worst things about Portugal - big business rules. But not just in Portugal!
 
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