I landed in Portugal last weekend. And it’s been a few hectic days. Today is the first day I have nothing planned so I’m going to head to the Silver Coast. Take some time for a little relaxation.
I started writing my blog on the plane last Saturday. I got a couple of sentences written but started chatting to the lady sitting next to me. The conversation was better than typing. Camilla was heading to Porto for the weekend. Saturday night meal, Sunday with family and returning to London on Monday morning in time for work.
Reading the sentences I wrote, reminded me that I’d checked I had my passport, driving licence, vaccine certificate, passenger locator form and a little bit of currency. And then I had to do the customary double-check.
It was though less than a week ago, but it honestly feels like a month. So much has happened in the last six days.
My flight to Porto arrived early evening so by the time I got to my hotel and grabbed a bite to eat, the evening had gone. Both times I’ve flown to Porto I’ve stayed at the Solar Antigo Porto Aeroporto. It is ideally located a short five-minute walk to the airport. Breakfast is brought to your door – even at 4am! I’ve always had a great experience and it has been excellent value.
A further five-minute walk in the morning got me to the car rental company. I have used Cael for my car rental on both visits. For me, they are the best value. They are not the cheapest, but provide me with the car I need, at a fair price and an appropriate level of insurance.
Forest, Royalty and Religion
Sunday, I headed south. I had plenty of time to get to the apartment I am staying at for the next ten days, I planned a stop and a good walk.
Destination, Buçaco Forest in Luso. The forest is managed by the Mata do Bussaco Fundação, a non-profit organisation. The forest is conveniently located halfway between Porto and Pedrogão Grande where I will be staying for the next week.
Within the forest is the Buçaco Palace. Originally a convent, there were plans for it to become the Royal Palace of Portugal. That never materialised and alas, it has ended up as a hotel.
Despite being out of season, there were still a lot of people around. Most though were waiting to fill their water bottles from the pure spring. Clearly great water. I parked in the town and walked up to the forest and palace, although you can park within the grounds for a small charge.
Throughout the forest are several marked routes you can take and I ensured plenty of stops en route as there are so many things to see around the forest. There are two lakes and the Fonte Fria (Cold Fountain) with an amazing water stairway. One of the walks focuses on the trees within the forest, with some of them more than 350 years old. Another walk is called the military trail.
But the trail I mainly focused on was the trilho via sacre (Sacred trail) which is a route taking in 24(?) chapels. One of the best chapels is located next to a separate building which has a cross on the top. If you breathe in you can just squeeze up the steps and pop out the top. Not for the faint-hearted or those with a fear of heights! I’d also hold on to the children too! In total, I walked a little over 12 km.
The Buçaco Forest is definitely on my list to visit again once I am living in Portugal.
Focus on property viewings
Monday through to Thursday were focused on property searches. A dozen properties are viewed and progress is being made. There are options available but I’m drawn to one particular property. Some of the others have been dismissed.
It has been a bit of a rollercoaster of a week though. I’ve viewed some great properties. Some with a great house, but less land. Others with superb land but the house just won’t work. Compromise is really difficult.
Since my September scouting visit, I have been in negotiation with an agent on a property. It could work, with a few compromises. I’ve been back and visited it twice this visit. Decision made. It’s off the list. It feels like the time delay has worked in my favour.
Many properties are coming onto the market at present. My time limitations are frustrating as there is a lot to do in a short space of time. Therefore, I can only see the properties in a snapshot of time.
The property I have viewed this week and I really liked, enough to put an offer that will stretch the budget, is not looking positive at present. Darn. Incredibly disappointing.
Over the last week, I have though, definitely focused on my area, even more, thank previously. I have a town I am putting in the centre of my search area, and a location which is my second preference. This is a great step forward and will ensure I can be more targeted in my searches.
The plan now is to find a rental property in the next couple of weeks. That alone is going to be something of a challenge, but I’ve a conversation later with an agent which hopefully will resolve that. If I can secure a rental, then the D7 Visa application can get submitted in April as per my original plan. If not, then I guess I’ll move on to Plan D…..
Plan D will consist of a third trip in August/September where I will be able to stay for longer for a thorough property hunt and resolve it then. Thereafter, I will head back to the UK to apply for my Visa at that time. Not great and, to be honest, potentially weakens my application, but who knows.
This option will include a tent a few generous people who will allow me a little space on their land to pitch it. Definitely in return for some manual labour.
Generous and welcoming
This scouting trip has been great for meeting more people. While I’ve taken time to have some relaxation, I have also met up with a couple of people who are a few years ahead of me in their adventures. It’s been great to see their set-up and incredibly motivating.
I was grateful for the generosity of one person who gave me a second opinion on a couple of properties. Maybe for reassurance, but also for the local knowledge. Immensely helpful in pointing out things someone who is working the local land would be aware of. Thank you. You know who you are!
Where possible, I have also got involved in conversations with several locals. I have a small, yet growing, address book of contacts in Portugal. Portugal really is “it’s who you know” so locating a couple of people who, appear to know most other people, will prove valuable.
This last week has been incredibly motivating and I have learned a lot. Despite some setbacks, I am full of positivity and just need to find a way to get over the next hurdle.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read. It’s much appreciated, especially given that I’ve started and stopped this post several times.
I have shared my personal experience of a couple of companies in this post. I do not receive any payment, commission or benefit from these companies for sharing my experience.