I love arriving at Faro airport

Flexpat James Cave (30) is originally from Ireland and lives together with his girlfriend Jemma (30), who’s from Scotland. The copywriting couple has lived all over the world; in 2013 they came to Portugal. When in the Algarve, one of their favourite places, they usually live in Silves. Together, Jemma and James make the Portugalist, a travel blog which covers all things Portugal.

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

What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

James: The first time we visited the Algarve together was to house sit. We’d just finished a year of house sitting in France (looking after cats, dogs, a farm of alpacas…) and found a couple in Ferragudo who searched someone to look after their home and pets while they were away. My parents were already living in the Algarve so it was a great opportunity to be near them and to spend a few weeks living in the region. We ended up enjoying the Algarve so much that we stayed on in Silves after the house sit ended. The following year we returned to spend a few months living in Lagos.


When did you feel at home here?

James: My parents moved out here when I was nineteen, and I’d lived in the North of Portugal as a child, but it still took a while for me to see it as home. Before we started living here, I came over once or twice a year. Because this was just for short periods of time, it was never long enough to see it as home. That all changed once we’d spent a month or two living here, though.


Was it hard to get accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle?

James: We lived in France, Spain and Berlin (the most laid-back place in Germany) before moving to the Algarve, so we’ve gradually been adjusting to a different pace of life. At first, it took a while to get used to not having things like 24-hour supermarkets, but you quickly adjust and now we don’t miss those things at all.

We haven’t been able to completely disconnect: we still work with clients in the UK and the United States and this means we work according to their schedules and deadlines. It can sometimes be a bit surreal, having one foot in one world and then stepping out your front door into a completely different one.


How does your life differ now you’re a flexpat here?

James: There are pros and cons to being a flexpat. Having the freedom to move around has been great and we’re very lucky to have been able to live in so many different countries. Another positive is that if you think you’re only going to be in a place for a few months, you tend to be more proactive at seeing all of the attractions rather than just lazing about at the weekend. Sometimes, anyway!

The cons are, because you know you’re leaving in six months, you don’t tend to put as much effort into making a life in that place. It’s another excuse not to try to learn the language and, as any expat knows, there are enough of those already!

We tend to spend a lot more of our free time outside in the Algarve than in other places, which is so good for the soul. Rather than going to a bar, café, or even a museum, we’re either walking or going to the beach and that means we’re taking proper time to relax.


What is your favourite Algarve moment?

James: I love arriving at Faro Airport. I love seeing the Ria Formosa from the window, then feeling that warm rush of air and the smell of labdanum that hits you when you step off the plane. It’s definitely my favourite airport to land at.


What annoys you here?

James: Aside from tractors and three-wheelers on the N125? There are a few things. One is that if you’re not connected to the social grapevine – and because we don’t permanently live here, we’re often not – it can be very hard to keep up with what’s going on. Thankfully, there are an increasing number of websites (like Enjoy the Algarve!) that list what’s on but even still, we sometimes find that we don’t hear about things until after they’ve happened. Or not at all, which can be frustrating. We’ve started writing about Portugal, with a big emphasis on the Algarve, on Portugalist.com so we can share what we know about the Algarve with others (and hopefully get plugged into what’s going on!)


What do you miss most from the countries you’ve previously lived and worked in?

James: There are a lot of things we miss, although I think we’re quite good at adjusting to new places and accepting them for what they are. Everywhere has a good side, but it very easy to just miss these good things and forget the bad things that balance them out. Nowhere is perfect; not even the Algarve!

We used to live in a Turkish enclave of Berlin so there were lots of markets and restaurants with exciting new food to try (and oh the kebabs!). It was great having convenient access to such an incredible range of ingredients, but we’re getting better at working out substitutions. Jemma’s from Scotland so she misses haggis, but they sell Irn Bru in the Iceland at Algarve Shopping so all is not lost!


Which 6 words would best describe the Algarve for you?

James: Sunshine, labdanum, beach, oranges, laid-back, home.


What’s your favourite spot?

James: We both enjoy walking and regularly hike the Seven Hanging Valleys near Carvoeiro. Figueira beach is another favourite, and Jemma loves the little alleyways in Ferragudo.


In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

James: My head always feels clearer whenever I’m in the Algarve. I think just having a clearer mind makes it much easier to be inspired.


How’s your Portuguese coming along?

James: When I was a child I lived in the North of Portugal, went to school, and (apparently) spoke Portuguese fluently. After that, my parents moved to Ireland and I forgot every single word of it. People say that it should all still be in there, but I’ve yet to find it. So, sadly, I’m still having to learn it like everyone else and it’s definitely a challenge.


Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

James: There’s a café in Silves (Divina Doçura, near Lidl) that makes chocolate (and sometimes lemon) pasteis de nata. Also, the cake portions there are big enough to feed a family. Literally. Unfortunately, they don’t make them every day, and they never know when they’re next going to make them, so you just have to pop in and see if they have them. They’re not going to replace the original pastel de nata anytime soon but it’s nice to see the culinary wheel being reinvented in Silves.


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


Posted in Algarve expat stories.