Which is cheaper Portugal or Spain
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... and why not Spain, Italy or Greece? It's nice and warm in these countries too, with historical cities, delicious food and the southern way of life. So why are we - and so many others - drawn to Portugal so much?
A question that keeps coming back. And to which there are so many answers.
The stoic serenity of the Portuguese
The Portuguese themselves are of a relaxed nature. One could confidently describe his basic attitude as “live and let live”. He is very open-minded, hospitable and helpful towards visitors to his country. This may also be due to the fact that Portugal has always been a country of immigrants and emigrants: because there have always been few jobs in Portugal, the Portuguese go abroad for a certain time to earn money there. Many, however, come back - the longing for their homeland is too great, and perhaps also for the good climate here.
In Portugal a lot is not taken that seriously and a lot is not regulated. Not every Castelo has a railing on the viewing platform for fear of someone falling off. You are responsible for it yourself. Anyone who was stupid enough to fall down is simply to blame - that's called personal responsibility.
Some of the Portuguese might call this laid-back laziness - but perhaps it is the reason why the country is so peaceful. A fine example from history is the Carnation Revolution. After the military overthrew the government, people came out of their homes and put cloves in the barrel of their guns - so the story goes. The Portuguese are peaceful people who shy away from conflict. A Portuguese is more likely to avoid you and not get in touch with you than to argue with you.
What, however, has an aftertaste: one would like to ask the Portuguese to take action when it comes to their own well-being. That they take to the streets to demonstrate for better wages and more forest fire prevention.
Over strawberry trees, waterfalls and mountains
Huge reservoirs and small waterfalls, miles of sandy beaches or steep cliffs with cozy, small beaches in between. Endless hilly landscapes and high mountains, countless rivers, streams and springs. Imposing oak forests, lagoons and nature reserves. Plateaus and ravines, steppes and in every season of the year some trees always bear fruit.
The nature of Portugal is so diverse. And Portugal is a small country. Which means you don't have to go far to discover something new. Skiing in the morning on the Serra da Estrela, having a coffee in the afternoon in Coimbra, one of the oldest university cities in Europe, then going to the sea for surfing? You can do it.
Portugal has a lot in store for nature lovers. It is a fertile land, and on hikes you will come across trees and bushes from which you can nibble almost at any time of the year. Oranges, figs, baobab, chestnuts, persimmons, mulberries, grapes, wild asparagus, pomegranates or strawberry trees - a hike can be very tasty.
Water is ubiquitous in Portugal. And by that I don't just mean the Atlantic coast, which is more moderate in the south of the Algarve and rather wild in the west. Sure, the miles of sandy beaches are beautiful, the cliffs with the small, hidden beaches in between, anyway. But you can also find water inland: In the Alentejo there are numerous reservoirs, in the nature parks there are many small streams, and often a waterfall. There are bathing spots all over the country, on rivers and streams. Especially in summer you will find many wonderful opportunities to cool off.
The weather. Just awesome.
Six months of summer. And not six days like in Germany. From April to the end of October it actually didn't rain in the summer of 2017. Sure, a few rain showers in between would not have harmed us or nature, but it wasn't. If 40 degrees are too hot for you, then just stay on the coast - the Atlantic makes it very pleasant there even in summer.
On the other hand, it rains a little more in winter than, for example, in southern Spain. But Portugal is also fundamentally greener. And especially in spring, when the Algarve sinks into a fragrant sea of flowers, the few days of rain that preceded the beginning of spring are quickly forgotten.
Life is cheap in Portugal.
Many things and services are reasonably priced in Portugal, while others are more expensive.
For example, a visit to the car repair shop, the dentist or hairdresser or a restaurant is a good option. Consumer electronics and many branded products in the supermarket are more expensive than in Germany. Meat is also generally a bit more expensive - but you get more quality. The healthy foods are top quality at a low price: fruit, vegetables and fish are very good and a little cheaper than in Germany. Medicines sometimes only cost a third, and clothing is also relatively cheap in Portugal.
Mobile Internet is also inexpensive in Portugal: there is a data flat rate for 1 euro per day.
The bottom line is that we live far cheaper in Portugal than in Germany - also because we don't value brands and a lot of meat in the fridge. Especially if the car has to go to the workshop, you can quickly save a few hundred euros, especially with independent workshops.
Basically you can say: if you have a simple lifestyle, then you can live very cheaply in Portugal. Treating yourself to something in between, such as going out to eat, is also inexpensive. Live like the Portuguese and you won't do anything wrong.
Lock the car? Huh?
Portuguese themselves leave the key in the car. Bet hardly any cars are locked in a supermarket parking lot. We really have never had any strange encounters. In really lonely places to stay overnight, we leave the car open when we go for a walk with the dogs. Do you often forget to remove the key, etc. Lock the car overnight? We haven't thought of that for a long time. Well, who should come in too, the two alarm systems wake up quickly. When we come back to civilization, we have to remember that this negligence could take revenge one day.
The only risk factor where the police have already warned us about: When a Sinti + Roma camp is nearby. Because this culture is not integrated into society, they have no jobs and are outsiders. And they steal. I always feel sorry when children grow up in such an environment. You don't learn any other way, and so the cycle turns a new lap, also in the next generation.
Even in a big city like Porto or Lisbon we are now free, not on campsites. Cities always carry the risk that there is a criminal offense involved in this. And pickpockets abound, at least in Lisbon, I was told. But with a bit of common sense you can do that.
Incidentally, Portugal is (according to its own statement) the second safest country in the world, according to current crime statistics.
Time stands still - and flies by
Time doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what time it is. Shops are open seven days a week, but are closed on two or three public holidays a year. There is no eternal siesta as we know it from Spain, and the Portuguese are not too punctual either, so just relax. If you need something, you get it - somehow everything works out. But not everything has to work out right away. If not today, then tomorrow, if not this week then the next. Will be fine.
If you stay in Portugal long enough, you will automatically slow down. Have I ever been stuck in a traffic jam in Portugal? Not really. Maybe because of an accident, but never because there was just too much traffic. You don't have to waste your time in Portugal on such things. In return, you learn to be a little more relaxed about other things. The cashier in the supermarket is chatting a little relaxed with the customer in front of you? Don't bother me. Does it take a little longer in a restaurant for the food to come out of the kitchen? Wonderful, the food is still freshly cooked here. The internet doesn't work right now? It's high time to take the dog for a spin again.
I also think that the good weather in Portugal has an impact on the psyche. If you're just in a little better mood, then it's less easy to get annoyed.
Free spirits and freedoms in Portugal
It is said that many individualists, dropouts and hermits feel at home in Portugal. This may also be due to the fact that the Portuguese are very tolerant and relaxed. There are not so many regulations for everyday life here - and when they do, they are often only viewed as non-binding recommendations.
See a no-dogs sign on the busy beach? You will definitely see a few dogs running around too. You are only allowed to drive 90 on the federal highway? Someone will surely overtake you, even if you already have 100 things on it yourself. The huge parking lot is empty, but all cars are parked on the green strip? Portuguese people park where their car is in the shade and not where they should park.
Portuguese cuisine is underestimated. There is so much that is delicious! Specialties from Portugal are Bacalhau, the national dish, or Pastel de Nata, the national dessert. When in Portugal, go to restaurants to eat! Especially the small restaurants where grandma is behind the stove, where there is no menu - you can get delicious home-style cooking for a small price. But be careful, take a good hunger with you - because the portions are generous, a dinner consists of more than just a main course.
The most beautiful sunrises. The most beautiful sunsets.
I have observed it again and again: Portuguese people who drive to the coast, on the cliffs, just sit in the car for a while, listen to the radio, look out to sea. And go back home after an hour. On the west coast, the sun sinks into the sea - and you just can't get enough of it.
Where there is light, there is also shadow
Yes, it's nice in Portugal, but we don't want to submerge everything in a pink cloud. Of course there are also things here that you notice, especially when you are in the country for a little longer.
- In 2017 we had a hot, dry, never-ending summer. It was a wonderful time for us, but there is another side of the coin: forest fires across the country, especially in Centro and northern Portugal. When it is so hot and dry in summer and it does not rain enough in winter either, the problem becomes worse - the water table sinks too much, the wells run empty, the rivers and lakes overturn. And that might get worse with the fires next summer.
- We have it cheap, many Portuguese just can't pay anymore. The Portuguese minimum wage is a joke, € 5 an hour is also the rule for skilled workers. Quite a few people go home with € 500 net per month. And they can only support their families with the help of the family.
- Animal welfare in Portugal is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the Portuguese have a good relationship with flora and fauna. Much of the animal welfare takes place on the basis of private initiatives. But, you see it again and again, sometimes animals are treated less well. Dogs spend their lives in the industrial area, as a living alarm system, in solitary confinement and in a kennel. State animal welfare is taking place, but not to the extent one would like, given the stories one hears. There are many stray dogs and cats, and neutering animals is not very popular. Catching them does not always make sense because the animal shelters are well occupied. Many locals take care of the strays, and the law seems to be rethinking. So let's hope that the good and respectful treatment of animals manifests itself in society.
So why Portugal?
It's the whole package. People, nature, culture. And above all this constant mix of old and new, reserved and impressive. Portugal is an easy country. Here you will find modern buildings next to old ruins, beautiful reservoirs in the middle of hilly landscapes, historic villages near modern cities. You are a welcome guest in Portugal. Portuguese ask you if you like their country. And are genuinely happy if you say yes. Because they also think it's very beautiful in Portugal.
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