Algarve basic life skills

Just moved? Planning on living here? On holiday for a longer period of time? From simple things such as going shopping, to more complicated things like buying a car, here in the Algarve stuff goes a bit different from what you might be used to back home.

Yes, there are concierge services who can arrange everything for you, but it’s not that complicated (it will, however, take a looooooooooong time).  No worries, we explain everything in nine simple steps. 

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine November 2016


Going shopping

Because if you don’t grow or hunt your own food, you’ll have to buy it.

1. Visit three different supermarkets as they only have your favourite snacks in Lidl, the bread tastes better at your local bakery and they only sell your favourite garlic butter in Aldi.

2. Realise you also need sugar-free tonic and go to Continente for ‘a quick shop’.

3. Scan your card, get a coupon for €5 off if you spend more than €20, and gather all kind of overpriced foods like avocado spread just to get to €21. Apart from the sugar-free tonic because that’s “out of stock”.

4. Try to choose the quickest checkout lane and fail.

5. Watch the cashier scan every single item of the woman in front of you as slow as possible.

6. When she’s finally finished, watch the woman in front of you suddenly realise she might need to pay for all this shopping. This leads to her trying to locate her wallet, fish out her bank card and remember her pin code.

7. After 4 minutes, watch the cashier scan every single item of your shopping even slower, failing to scan your avocado spread as it doesn’t produce the right sort of ‘bleep’.

8. Listen as the cashier calls a male colleague for help who tries to find the store location of the spread (after 7 minutes, he calls a female colleague for help so this matter doesn’t take the entire day).

9. Pay, leave, realise you’ve forgotten to hand in your €5 off coupon and start crying in the car park.


Getting a fiscal number

Because without it, you can’t do a thing in Portugal.

1. Find the address and go to the local finanças.

2. Press a button (the wrong one), wait 14 minutes until your number is called and find out at the counter that you had to press another button. Try again.

3. Wait 47 minutes on an uncomfortable plastic bench while keeping an eye out for your new number.

4. Fill in a form and feel proud (making a Superman gesture and shouting “Numero fiscal, I’m coming to get you!” optional).

5. Realise you’ve forgotten to take a proof of address from your home country. Try to convince the person behind the counter of the fact that you are you and that you first lived somewhere else.

6. Fail, phone a friend and promise him/her a bottle of nice wine if they come to the finanças ASAP with some sort of letter which has your foreign address on.

7. Repeat step 1, 3 and 4, taking care to press the right button this time so you can avoid repeating step 2.

8. Watch the person behind the counter pay no attention whatsoever to your post.

9. Pay a tenner, get a piece of paper and get out.


Buying a car

Because renting is too expensive and you’re only allowed to drive your foreign number plated car in Portugal for six months.

1. Find a second hand car on one of the many Algarve forums, hand over the money and hope it doesn’t break down in the next two months.

2. Get insurance and let the buyer sign the ‘Requerimento de Registo Automóvel’ form so you can go and put the car in your name by yourself.

3. Go to the local IRN office, press the button which says something about ‘less than three licence plates’ and wait 32 minutes.

4. In the meantime, try to be helpful and fill in as much of the form as you can.

5. Realise you’ve filled in ‘Olhoã’ instead of ‘Olhão’ and cross it out.

6. When it’s your turn, watch the sadistic smile of the lady behind the counter as she triumphantly tells you the entire document is now invalid because you crossed something out.

7. Try to convince her to make an exception in this case and/or try to bribe her with a tenner. Both options will fail and you’ll hear her calling you something in Portuguese which sounds a whole lot like ‘stupid idiot’.

8. Call the seller, explain what happened and tell him to come over in person as you need a new autograph since the old one was on the form that’s now invalid. Listen as the seller refuses, calling you an idiot. Threaten to drive over the toll road for 2565 times and not pay any of the bills, seeing as the car isn’t in your name yet.

9. When the seller arrives, repeat step 3, taking care not to repeat step 4, 5 & 6. Now the lady behind the counter shouts at you for not already having filled in the form. Pay 65 euros (yes, you read that right, sixty-five euros) and leave.


Paying for toll

Because, even if you’re planning not to, you will ultimately end up going over the A22 somehow. 

1. Go to the Correios (that’s the post office) on a Wednesday morning at 11am (after having visited it on Sunday when it was closed, Monday 9am when it wasn’t opened yet and Tuesday 8pm when it was closed again).

2. See that there are only three people in front of you, so think it won’t take that long and put 40 cents in the parking meter.

3. Listen to the woman in front, telling the guy behind the counter about the sister of her niece’s baby’s pet rabbit playing Pokémon Go (or something like that) for approximately 12 minutes.

4. Listen to the man next in line who also wants to pay for toll. He hasn’t written down his car’s licence plate number and his Portuguese isn’t good enough to say ’20-93-RD’. Sign language doesn’t work either.

5. Go outside and put more money in the parking meter as you’ve just seen the police drive by.

6. Argue with a woman and her kid who’ve arrived in the meantime that you were first in line.

7. Lose the argument because the kid starts to cry.

8. Listen to woman and kid sending 12 different items (which all have to be weighed) in 12 different envelopes (which all have to be purchased. Separately). Then they realise that 12 different addresses have to be written as well.

9. After 28 more minutes, pay the guy behind the counter 62 eurocents and swear you’ll NEVER EVER use the A22 again. Ever.


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine November 2016

Posted in Features.