I don’t miss my plastic lunchbox

Cees Groenewegen (51) is originally from the Netherlands, where he lived in Middelburg. In 2010, he moved to the Algarve with his wife Paula. He now lives in Paderne (near Albufeira), where he works as a musician and writer. Cees is also a web-entrepreneur, check out his website www.winterinalgarve.com.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine March 2017

What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

Cees: My connection with Portugal dates back to 1997, when I started working for Amorim Group, the world´s largest cork producer. In 2002 I moved to Porto and in 2005 back again to Holland with my Portuguese wife Paula. I was in the fast lane when to the surprise of many, Paula and I decided to opt out. Instead of the planned move to the USA we quit our jobs and moved to the Algarve, a place we had visited dozens of times by then. We were convinced we’d be better off living in the sun. That was six years ago and we know now we took the right decision. Paula became an independent real estate professional with REMAX whereas I’m the main bass player for DiéBBand, a band that started as a hobby in 2012 and is now one of the hottest acts in the Algarve.

When did you feel at home here?

Cees: From the very start, as we knew the Algarve already quite well. Compared to Porto, the Algarve was easier to settle because of its international atmosphere.


Was it hard to get accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle?

Cees: Not at all, I advise everybody to embrace it. Trust me; you won’t miss your plastic lunchbox. You’ll enjoy coffee at the local pastelaria much better than your Senseo or Nespresso. You will learn that 30 minutes of waiting is irrelevant if you have 3,300 hours of sun per year.

How does your life differ now you live here?

Cees: I don’t wear a watch, I rarely set an alarm clock and I only do things I really like. This includes playing concerts and writing articles. Recently I co-created a website together with web developer Gabriela Olimón (pictured below) to promote winter stays in the Algarve. While all big holiday-home websites focus on summer season, www.winterinalgarve.com caters especially for winter rentals. These are quite different; the guests are usually older people that treat the house as their own and tend to stay for long periods, up to 7 months. It’s a forgotten slice of the rental market which we want to develop, and thus promote the Algarve as a year-round destination.

What is your favourite Algarve moment?

Cees: Lunch. Every day again, whether it’s with my wife on our terrace or with friends in a restaurant. It is so healthy, both physically as well as mentally, to make lunch the main meal of your day. Preferably with a small sesta afterwards.

What annoys you here?

Cees: Quite frankly, foreigners that move to the Algarve and then complain about everything and anything. They often remind me of non-integrated immigrants back home in the Netherlands. Complaining about this welcoming country while they themselves hardly speak the language, don’t follow Portuguese news and don’t know what’s going on. That in itself is fine with me, I’m a liberal, but then please don’t complain about Portugal and the Portuguese. Like the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte recently said: ‘If you don´t like it here, bugger off to where you came from’.

What do you miss most from the country you’re from originally?

Cees: Friends who I would like to see more often. Then on the other hand, when they come over they stay for various days so that compensates a lot!

Which 5 words would best describe the Algarve for you?

Cees: Sun, music, space, lunch & life.


What’s your favourite spot?

Cees: Vertigo Bar in Albufeira. It’s is located right on the central square, offers great food, an excellent esplanade, and an unbeatable atmosphere at night. I consider it the pinnacle of nightlife for music lovers. Just go there one day or night and you’ll for sure return.

In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

Cees: It inspires me to enjoy life. I believe that many people forget that, for decades or even for a lifetime. True, no two situations are equal. But what I see is people following the lines set out by society and their community. Dare to stop in your tracks and think about what you really want to get out of life. Then plan smartly and try to do it. Maybe for you it’s being a fisherman. For me it’s living under the sun in the Algarve.


How’s your Portuguese coming along?

Cees: I understand everything the anchor-woman of the morning TV-news says, but I’m still learning every day. Portuguese is a beautiful and rich language.

Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

Cees: Cherish winter! Summer is great here, but what makes the difference with Northern Europe is the winter time. No endless grey days, but an abundance of sunshine. Even in January we have on average over 5,5 hours of sunshine per day. It’s no wonder so many people from England, Holland, Germany and Scandinavia choose to spend their winters here. I honestly believe there’s no better place to spend winter than the Algarve.


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine March 2017

Posted in Algarve expat stories.