There'll be peace of mind
When we live in a world of our own (Part 2)
Alvor was a very different town from Silves, yet we really liked it. Parts of it, I thought, had an almost southern California look to it, though it had plenty of the old world charm, too. And being an old fishing village, the nearby shoreline added points as well.
After the more intensive scouting we did in the first part of our visit, Alvor was meant to be a bit of vacation time at the end of the trip, though we did do a little scouting here, too. Being on the ocean, Alvor does have some tourism going on, but there aren’t any of those sprawling slick resorts there. Yet.
The town was founded in 436 BC. That’s right, BC! Yeah, I know, that was a little while ago. There’s no architecture from back then still standing, but a stone fortress was built there in the 1300s. It was destroyed in the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, but portions of the wall remain.
We stayed in a very small, very modern, very inconvenient apartment on the fourth floor of a building a few steps from the beach, yet we consider our time there one of the highlights of the trip. Our unit, unfortunately, didn’t face the ocean, but we did have a very nice view of the town.
Being there in the ‘off-season,’ neither the beach nor the town were crowded at all. In fact, it was often chilly and windy, which made our walks along the beach and the boardwalk reminiscent of our visit to Cape Cod on our October honeymoon. But it was beautiful. We took several walks out there and took lots of pictures.
Alvor has some very walkable areas. We weren’t near the centro area, but still, there were a number of useful places nearby. In the few days we were there, I twice walked to a grocery store that was just a few minutes away. In that same area, there were several restaurants, two of which we visited. (We were very pleased with both!)
Driving around the town, we looked for neighborhoods and houses that appealed to us, and that would serve our needs (including the two dogs). There were several, though the enclosed yards we saw were considerably smaller than the one we have now.
In fact, this seemed to be the case in every town we visited. Grassy lawns or gardens didn’t seem to be a priority. In many cases, especially in the older parts of the towns, the house was right on the street, often connected to other houses on either side, and separated from the cobblestone street only by a narrow cobblestone sidewalk.
During the whole trip, there wasn’t any of the food we had that we didn’t like. Depending on where we stayed, some of the food we prepared ourselves, with groceries purchased at the local market. Other times, we went to restaurants or cafes.
Fresh fish, especially there on the shore, almost always played a part in the menu. Portugal is especially known for its sardines, and we were anxious to try fresh grilled sardines. Alas, we were there at the very beginning of the season, and nobody had fresh sardines yet. I guess we’ll have to go back.
In all of our reading and research, one thing that really stood out about Portugal was its people. Helpful, friendly, welcoming, those were words that were used frequently in the articles and blogs we read, and we found them to be quite accurate. The Portuguese are a very warm and friendly people, and their smiles came easily.
In our search for a place to move, to spend our retirement years, the main thing we want is peace of mind. With all of its familiarity, the United States in recent years has also piled on political turmoil, violence and financial hardship. Realistically, we know that we can’t escape these things entirely. No place is perfect, but we do have certain priorities. Healthcare, as I’ve written about in the past, is a primary concern as we get older. We don’t want to go bankrupt if a major health issue arises. But besides that, we also want a place that can provide a friendly, welcoming environment.
And in this way, Portugal has definitely set itself up as a main contender!