24th June 2016 is a date that will always be a memorable one for me. Early that morning I turned on the BBC news to hear the final results on the UK Brexit vote. I sat there open mouthed and feeling a mixture of betrayal and sadness. I happened to be here in the Algarve during the week of the referendum, and after the shocking news I went straight to the town hall to register for a fiscal number. I had suddenly felt a sense of urgency and heard a voice inside my head saying, "maybe Portugal will now close the door for us Brits!". The best news of that day was that the fiscal process was very straightforward. It helped to lift my spirits. I also felt that I had got some sense of power back, a kind of kick back against the Brexit decision that was out of my control.
Up until that point in time Pasi and I were still undecided whether to leave our home in London and and move to the Algarve. We had started coming here on mini holidays a few years earlier. Each time we got back to the London city life of busy traffic, fumes and daily stress of travel and business activity, we felt a strong pull to turn on our heels and head for Portugal again. We had been exploring business options here for quite a while, i.e. we wanted to develop two of our UK businesses, the first in event floristry and the second in Holisitic treatments. By the time Brexit was announced we had already worked with quite a few clients in both businesses. So Brexit was the tipping point for us. Just over four years ago we took the leap and moved here permanently, having sold our floristry business, our London flat, and began working here in both our fields of expertise.
I have never lived in another country before, whereas Pasi has lived outside of his own country of Finland for over thirty years, having lived in Spain, Denmark and in the UK, which is where we first met. For this reason, and for the first year, I did miss certain aspects of England. But gradually Portuguese life became more comfortable, especially when I started to see more clients and learn the language.
What we love about the Algarve is the relaxed pace of life, the people, the food, wine, and culture. And the amazing truth for us is that we have never had such a busy social life in our lives. There is always some event, party, or outing to attend. This might sound a bit odd when you think we came from a big city like London, where there is plenty to do, a larger gay scene etc. But when you are stressed with the daily grind of getting to and from work, it use to take an hour some days for a ten minute journey, you sometimes just want to head home and closed the door to the world. But having left all of that stress behind we are more mentally inclined to accept invitations, plan trips at the weekend, go to the beach whenever we can, and invite friends over for dinner.
Eating out is something we love to do. My personal favourite restaurant is Dom Dinis in Albufeira. It is fine dining at Michelin star quality, but for a fraction of the price. Sir Cliff Richard regularly dines there, and so that with that kind of celebrity endorsement we feel it is good for us too. But seriously, the food is excellent and the staff make you feel very welcome.
If we have a friend staying with us we normally suggest a visit to Ferragudo as it is such a pretty village, with some good places to eat. We take the ferry boat there from our city of Portimao, only takes five minutes, and it beats having to find a parking spot in such as small place. A drive to the Monchique mountains is normally on the agenda too as there are nice places for picnics, good cafes and some great tourist shops, but with quality souvenirs that are hand crafted by the local people. Faro is a city we also like to explore again and again. I especially love the art gallery, and some of the wine bars where you can taste some great vino along with tasty tapas treats.
We are both very happy here in the Algarve and see ourselves as permanent settlers. I have about ten years to go before I reach the age of retirement and at this moment in time I certainly can't see myself living anywhere else.