A brief recap: Since arriving at Ocean Villas Luz in August 2020, our resident writer David Lugg has been experiencing all aspects of Luz Life. This is his January 2022 review:
At Christmas, someone questioned why I seldom mention the people that I meet here in the Algarve. There is no doubt that I have waxed lyrical about the diversity of the scenery as well as the extraordinary flora and wildlife. But what about the people? Okay, fair point. In order to get a true insight of the Portuguese, it’s best to start from the beginning – about 2500 years ago.
Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe. Throughout her history, she has been inhabited by Celts, Romans, Moors, Germanic tribes and, in her humble beginnings, by the Lusitanians. Today, the Portuguese are often referred metaphorically as Lusitanos. A later, significant juncture was the creation of the Kingdom of Portugal in the mid-12th century. Many affiliations were formed including an alliance with England (in 1386) which still remains the oldest political alliance in force today.
As a result of intensive maritime exploration, Portugal established a vast colonial empire that stretched most notably to Brazil, but in later years through India, Asia and Africa. Interestingly, Portugal was the first European country to establish trade routes with China and Japan. In more recent times, she has lived through world wars, a dictatorship and various revolutions – most of which are far too complex to discuss on this blog. Each historical chapter has played its part in shaping the modern day Portuguese.
Back to the present day, the Portuguese are without doubt one of the friendliest and kindest nations in Europe. They are not necessarily as gregarious (or as excitable) as their Spanish neighbours, but I hear time and time again from Ocean Villas guests about the ‘nice lady at the supermarket’ or the ‘considerate waiter at the restaurant’. Kindness must be in their blood. And perhaps the wine.
The Portuguese seem to have created an aura of contentment which occasionally borders on placidity. It’s as if they are aware that the world is a big place but why on earth would they want to go elsewhere? They have good reason to feel this as, at its best, Portugal is as beautiful as any country in Europe.
This laissez-faire attitude is evident throughout much of the culture. There have been moments in supermarket queues where I have been close to giving up on life, but when you finally reach the checkout you are usually greeted with a warm smile and a friendly tone. Any pent-up frustration immediately dissipates as you are reminded just how nice the Portuguese people really are. Living in Portugal certainly offers a different perspective on what is important.
At this point, I think it is fair to point out that much of my experience is based upon the Algarve. I have visited both Lisbon and Porto on a number of occasions and the pace of life is far more sprightly. But as you head to the north, the east or here in the south, time moves a little slower. Days tend to drift rather than pass. Life is simpler. Fewer distractions. Less stress.
Oh, wait a minute! Aren’t these the exact reasons why we love this country? Isn’t this why we adore taking holidays to this splendid part of the world? Not many of us want a complicated holiday. If you wish to return from your holiday feeling stressed and frustrated then Portugal is not for you. If you want to visit an historic country with boundless beauty, full of friendly people then it’s time to book your flights.
Portugal offers a constant reminder of the important things in life. Granted, if you want something to happen quickly, then you might need to take a couple of deep breaths from time to time. But we don’t need quick things on our holidays. Portugal is a simple country with lovely people. Just ensure that when you are queuing at a supermarket it’s a good idea to take a book.
More news next month
(All photo images owned by David Lugg)