Hot off the press sharing my article from the East Algarve Magazine and video links.

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Funny and unique things in Portugal…

Happy Summer friends and followers,

This month’s article is about some of the funny and unique things you might come across while visiting or living in Portugal as a non-native person.

I moved here to the East Algarve or the “Far East” in 2017 from California and I still giggle and am surprised about many things.

It’s a delight to call Portugal home and this month since it’s “tourist season” I thought it would be fun to showcase these differences.

Yup you’re supposed to park with two wheels on the sidewalk and two in the steeet. I giggle when I see these signs.

While driving down the street you might come across a parking sign showing a car straddling a sideways lightning bolt (see photo), it’s not because this car is about to fly away, but it’s instructing you to park half on the sidewalk and half on the street.  I giggled at this as I drove up the curb, and now it’s natural to drive on the sidewalk (hopefully when I’m supposed to do so).  

I’ve learned that not all one-way streets are marked in obvious locations and that most streets are not marked at all (make sure you’ve got your navigation to help you from being lost, but don’t always trust it). I giggle as I accidentally drive down streets which are pedestrian only streets (thanks navigation error) and then get to back up for a distance looking like a moron (yes, I’m the funny thing in this case). All you can do is chuckle at yourself and laugh and wave.

Try not to drive in pedestrian only areas like I did.

I’ve learned that the tankless gas hot water heater doesn’t light up unless you’re running hot water, that it’s never good to try to open the washing machine when the light is on (front loader games) and that breakers and fuses in your apartments flip off sometimes for no reason at all. I’ve learned NOT to trust converters to make your appliances with different plug styles work here, the high voltage will fry them quite rapidly. Make sure you have an expensive step-down converter or just leave those appliances at home.

When I hear a clapping or clacking sound, I always look up to find majestic storks as they build their nests in the craziest of places. A nearby chimney or light in the center of a roundabout is a perfect home. Stop and take photos of these magnificent creatures (I’ve never seen one in North America). I love watching their little dance as they say hello and clack away.

There are so many holidays that it’s hard to keep track of what is going on (and when) but they generally involve fireworks, food, music, and dancing in the street or square. I’ve learned it’s good to check the local town website in advance to plan (pro-tip, they all begin with a cm- then the city name and .pt), ours is  Don’t worry if things don’t start on time and try to understand that a meeting time is fluid and not always set in stone. 

Don’t miss the Medieval Days Festival in Castro Marim in August to be transported back in time with costumes, parades, food and shows. I have a video on this from last year if you want to take a look and get planning.

The Portuguese are a patient and kind people and I’ve learned to slow down and talk to friends even when I’m late. They’re polite and the person in front of them is always important. They take time to stop and say hello (always leave extra time for a meeting if it’s time sensitive).

Watch the parade and go back in time to a spot where the Knights Templar hid out and rebranded.

I say “pack your patience” when moving (applies to visiting too, and especially important with summer heat and crowds) to Portugal on some of my videos on YouTube. It’s so nice to learn to slow down after growing up in the Los Angeles region. Things take time here and it’s nice to learn to enjoy spending more time in line and realizing that not every second has to “count” towards an achievement.

Shopping doesn’t always need to occur in a store since pop up clothing kiosks seem to line many streets and corners (and yes you can bargain down that price). Enjoy a stroll and some haggling with the local vendors. We can shop with a beer or wine in hand while walking outside (a big no-no in LA), so it’s a treat to wander with our Vinho Verde. Green wine (vino green-o) is a special treat on its own. Unknown to most people outside of Portugal it hits the unique (and yummy) list. Fresh and bubbly I love it the best on tap at my favorite cafes and then toasting with friends.

Enjoy slowing down and pack your patience.

Trains may be late or go on strike but there is an app which will help (mycp), check my video on traveling around Portugal like a Pro on my YouTube Channel, @AmericanInPortugal. I list the apps which will help you get around as well as some time and money saving hacks.

I can’t write everything in this column, so you’re invited to come along on my video journey as I film our activities and share on YouTube. Parades, parties, restaurant events, beach days, poetry nights and biking adventures are just a few of the activities captured in my recent videos. Come along and share in the fun by contributing ideas and activities in the comments below the videos. It’s an entertaining way to connect and who knows who you’ll bond with.

While I have fun sharing life and living abroad in my videos, I find it mandatory to share the downfalls of moving and buying here incorrectly. I touch on this in the March and April issues of the East Algarve Magazine and go more in depth in my video “Huge Real Estate Mistakes in Portugal” @AmericaninPortugal on YouTube. Make sure to check them out before considering moving here. Everything must be done correctly upfront with a strong agent (remember that there is no licensing requirement here for Real Estate Consultants in Portugal they just use the license number of their broker).

If you want to live here, I’m here to help with referrals and recommendations. I’ve helped enough people to know the good and the bad in the region. Don’t just walk into a shop without many recommendations and a solid plan for a foolproof purchase. My background is in real estate, and I instruct agents throughout Portugal on how to work with expats. I have free video guided planners and free PDF’s you can download to get you started. Escrow, title, inspections are not standard here, so we help you with this as well.

I can give you referrals to qualified agents who agree to work with a high level of standards by being proactive, responsive, and who train to understand how to make a safe transaction for expats here.  I only recommend the best in service and skills.

Email me at  I also offer a few paid consultations a week to those who want to move to our beautiful corner of paradise.  

If you plan to move to Portugal, I highly recommend watching my free in-depth real-estate video before purchasing in Portugal called “Huge mistakes when moving to Portugal! The one video to watch before moving here.”  

Cheers and I hope to see you around Portugal, 

Veronica Ondrejech, Your “American In Portugal”.

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