No more stress

This month we meet Willem van Woezik (78) and ask him 12 questions about his move to the Algarve. The Dutch ex-marine has previously lived in Holland and Poland before settling down in Portugal. Currently he resides in Quatrim do Sul close to the Ria Formosa nature reserve, together with his Italian wife Maria (56) and their daughter Marie-Antoinette (23).

See original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine June 2015


What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

Willem: For years, my sister had a caravan in Fuseta. Every time I talked to her, she spoke about the Algarve like it was the best place on earth. We wanted to know what all the fuss was about, so in 1998 we visited and stayed in Tavira, which we liked, but didn’t consider that special. We were instantly drawn to the south of Portugal though, by its beaches and friendly people.


When did you feel at home here?

Willem: After that first time we continue to visit, first for short periods as tourists, then in various rented apartments. It wasn’t until 2011, when we moved to the house we currently live in and said goodbye to everyone in Holland, that a total feeling of relaxation came over me. It was a dream come true.


How does your life differ now you live here?

Willem: In the Algarve I have rest, nature and a nice temperature. There’s no stress and I can be myself. It’s not only a new lifestyle; it’s a whole different life. I don’t even want to watch TV anymore as I don’t want to know about what happens in the rest of the world. I’m done with the hectic life in my old country: I’m happy here


What was hard to get accustomed to?

Willem: Nothing actually, we just fitted in perfectly. I have lived all over the globe so I easily adapt to new situations. Before moving here, I often dreamt of living on the Antilles after my retirement. Now, not anymore; why would I live there when I’ve got the perfect life here?

Maria: For me it was hard getting used to living outside a main town. As I’ve always lived in cities, it does get a bit quiet here in the countryside. So every Saturday I visit the market in Olhão for the music and crowds.


What is your favourite Algarve moment?

Willem: Every morning when I wake up and see the orange glow of the rising sun falling through the bedroom curtains. I hear the birds tweet and the sound of the sea in the distance and say to myself: ‘It’s the start of another beautiful day!’



What annoys you here?

Willem: Sometimes the people here don’t stick to their words. One New Year’s Eve Portuguese friends of ours would come and visit us for dinner. Maria spent the entire day in the kitchen preparing a feast, but they didn’t turn up and didn’t even call to cancel. In Holland or Poland, this behaviour would have been unthinkable. Here, it happens.


What do you miss most from home?

Willem: Dutch old cheese and new herring.


What’s your favourite spot?

Willem: I enjoy walking on the beach in the nearby Ria Formosa reserve. There I can spot storks, herons and flamingos and get up close to the wildlife while my dogs play in the sea.


Five words you’d use to describe the Algarve?

Willem: I only need one word: paradise!


In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

Willem: Here, I have the time and rest to paint. My dad was a talented painter and it wasn’t until friends gave me a blank canvas as a birthday present about 1.5 years ago that I decided to give it a go as well. Now I love it. Most of my paintings are based on the nature in the Algarve. I’m never without inspiration: one look outside my window suffices.



How’s your Portuguese coming along?

Willem: Well, I absolutely love hearing the language, especially when listening to fado, but speaking Portuguese is a different story. I try it. But because I speak a bit of Spanish I automatically tend to speak Spanish which isn’t always appreciated here in Portugal…


Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

Willem: Go to Fuseta beach and catch the ferry to the other side of the lagoon. Walk across the island to the sea and sit down in the sand. There, see the fisherman at work, have a coffee and just relax. This is life as it’s meant to be.


See original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine June 2015

Posted in Algarve expat stories.

Leave a Reply