It’s not about owning a fancy phone

This month we meet Julia Beckenbauer (35) and ask her 12 questions about her move to the Algarve. The German Julia moved to the south of Portugal in 2004. Currently she lives at the edge of Vila do Bispo, with her dogs, cats and chickens. Julia is co-owner of Ecokarts Landsailing Algarve

See original article in Enjoy the Algarve magazine October 2015

 

What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

Julia: surfing! I moved here because of the waves. Back in university I used to go on surfing holidays; short ones would be to France and longer ones to Portugal and Morocco. After I finished university, I planned to stay in the Algarve for just one year, but I soon made friends and stuck around.

 

When did you feel at home here?

Julia: that wasn’t until about 2009. The first five years felt more like a holiday because I lived in a van and camped for free on the beach. After that I got a house and started my own business, which suddenly meant that the Algarve was my home. I had a great time living in my van, but nowadays I couldn’t be without my home comforts anymore. Having no electricity in the van meant usually going to bed at sunset.

 

Was it hard to get accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle?

Julia: no, not once I learned the language. Before that, it was hard, but I soon picked it up and also made Portuguese friends trough capoeira (a Brazilian martial art). If you speak the language, you understand the Portuguese mentality. Fado, the traditional music, says a lot about the people and their lifestyle. The Portuguese are very introvert. Even if they’re angry, they don’t get all dramatic.

 

How does your life differ now you live here?

Julia: here in the southwestern tip of the Algarve it sometimes does feel like the end of the world. It’s a remote countryside which you notice because of the absence of flashy material things. None of my friends have an iPhone for example. When ecokarting sometimes people ask for a GoPro so they can film their ride. We don’t have any. Material things aren’t so important down here, which I like; it gives you the chance to live a different life. In Germany I’d be an outsider living like this, but here nobody drives an expensive car.

 

What is your favourite Algarve moment?

Julia: the mornings, when I stand in the middle of my garden, surrounded by my four cats, two dogs and chicken. I taught the cats and dogs not to attack the chicken. I also like the end of September, as the hard work of the summer season is over.

 

What annoys you here?

Julia: money rules the world in this part of Portugal, which is frustrating. At ecokart, we’ve been asking permission to build onsite disabled toilets for years now, but always the answer was ‘no, not possible’. However, if I would have a big bag of money and throw some of it around, I could have built a five star resort here in no time, without any problems whatsoever. I wouldn’t call it corruption, but with a lot of money you’re freer to do what you want.

I also despise the attitude some people have with animals here. It’s just cruel. Take for example my dogs: one day I heard a strange whining noise. I thought ‘it must be rats or cats’, but still had a look. It was two puppies tied in a plastic bag, left to die. So I took them home and took care of them. The Portuguese have to change their ways of dealing with animals; just castrate your pets, problem solved. The government needs to step up as well. Most of the money in the Algarve comes from tourism, but tourists won’t come here anymore if animals are treated like this. Wake up people, it’s 2015 and we’re in the European Union: do something against animal cruelty!

 

What do you miss most from Germany?

Julia: to have a newspaper in my mailbox in the morning. They don’t deliver here. True, I can read all the news on the internet, but I like turning pages. I also miss my parents, who still live in Germany, and my friends, although I’ve made a lot of new ones here. Actually, many of my friends here now feel like family; most of them don’t have their relatives here either, so we celebrate traditional family events like Easter and Christmas together.

 

Which 5 words would best describe the Algarve for you?

Julia: sun, wind, waves & ocean, nature, my friends.

 

What’s your favourite spot?

Julia: Praia da Cordoama. It’s the closest beach to my house; sometimes I hear the waves when I’m at home. It’s a long beach, with a forest next to it. Or, I should say, the closest you’ll get to a forest in the Algarve. I sometimes go there for a two hours long cliff walk with my dogs, Grizzly and Lola. Just not in the summer months as the dogs aren’t that well trained yet.

 

In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

Julia: it has inspired me to do more gardening. It’s hard work, but with the weather here you can grow your own vegetables the whole year round. This year I’ll even be making my own compost. I can’t yet live from what I grow, but I haven’t bought any potatoes or tomatoes in the supermarket for over three months now. My landlord is a chef who uses his home-grown vegetables in his restaurant. I’ve always liked working in nature; back in Germany I studied Forest Science.

 

How’s your Portuguese coming along?

Julia: it’s OK. There’s always room for improvement, especially in business, but I get by very well. I think we Germans have it way easier than English people for example. We’ve got the three definite articles with their gender, ‘der’, ‘die’ and ‘das’, which are like the Portuguese ‘o’ and ‘a’. In English, there’s no such thing. Same goes for the formal and informal ‘du’ and ‘Sie’; ‘tu’ and ‘vós’ in Portuguese. In English, it’s all ‘you’. When learning Portuguese, they don’t get it, while we’re already used to it.

 

Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

Julia: yes, go eco karting! We’re that unknown, we’re almost a secret.

 

See original article in Enjoy the Algarve magazine October 2015

Posted in Algarve expat stories.

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