Another (boring?) weekend in paradise

We hear it all the time. Went on holiday but there was nothing to do. Great beaches, plenty of sunshine, but how can we otherwise occupy our time? The other day, I even had to convince a Portuguese person that he was falling into the trap of paying lip service to that ill-gotten, and much maligned, it must be said, reputation which places like the Algarve have earned, for being, dare we say it: boring?

Our weekend started before we realised the week had ended. The first of the summer’s night tournaments was being held at the Portimão tennis club and we had one of the family members playing in the seniors event. The warm-up was interrupted by a phone call to attend a meeting and by the time I returned to offer my support, the match was well into the second set. Two and a half hours later, with plenty of bifanasand refreshments being liberally distributed among the attendees, singles and doubles matches were still in full flow. In this tournament there was even a celebrity attendee. Stefan Edberg, former world number 1 and a frequent visitor to the Algarve, brought his family along to watch his son play. The only give-away that they might not be local club members, was the group of blonde-haired supporters sitting on the long wooden benches alongside an otherwise dark-haired audience.

The first night was an early night, as players and supporters managed to get away by 01:30 and doubles was largely held over until the following evening. Nonetheless, the next morning I drive over to the same club because a younger family member is participating in an U/12 tournament. Hours and several victories later, and we are looking at another full day on the Sunday interrupted only by the continuation of the senior tournament in the evening.

Much to my disappointment I don’t make it over to the Arte Algarve gallery in Lagoa which holds its first auction. Around 80 people attend to see 170 works go under the hammer. Interest is good for this debut occasion and more than 20 works, including prints by well-known Portuguese artist Guimarães and famous Spanish painter Miró, are sold off to art lovers.

From there, it is only a short hop to the Feira do Doce Conventual, a traditional sweets fair held annually in the beautiful Convent of São José. The visitor is greeted by the gentle sounds of a saxophone and flute duo, soloists drawn from the local orchestra. As much a feast for the eye as for the taste buds, the event includes the Big 4 of endogenous ingredients: carob, orange, fig and almond. My comment to one exhibitor that the mere sight of such sweetness is enough to increase cholesterol levels is not appreciated by the person in question, but other visitors smile between mouthfuls of sweets. Outside, the traditional fadoperformers are getting ready to entertain the visitors, their haunting melodies soon floating into the balmy night air.

Sunday’s tennis more than eliminates any excess that might have resulted from the previous night. Players and families leave the club after the finals. Just enough time to wander down to the waterfront and treat everyone to an ice cream…just another weekend in paradise

The Algarve: Best Place in the World to Retire!

Finally it is official!

It has been coming for some time, it must be said. Europe’s leading beach destination – World Travel Awards. 2nd best place to retire overseas – The Telegraph. 7thfriendliest nation in the world (among 140 surveyed) – CNN. World’s leading Golf Destination – WTA.

And now: Algarve, Portugal: Best Place in the World to Retire – 2014 Retire Overseas Index.

The index, which has just been published, sees the Algarve ranked ahead of 21 global locations including places such as Abruzzo in Italy, Barcelona in Spain, Istria in Croatia, Pau in France, Chaing Mai in Thailand, Istanbul in Turkey, Dumaguete in the Philippines, Ambergris Caye in Belize, Mendoza in Argentina, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico and City Beaches in Panama.

The ranking was compiled using 12 criteria including climate, cost of living, crime, English spoken, entertainment, environmental conditions, existing expat community, healthcare, infrastructure, real estate, residency options and taxes. Portugal scored top marks in several categories: it received an A for its sizeable 100,000 expat community which allowed new arrivals to integrate faster; an A for Environment, an A for Crime (I think that should be lack of Crime!); and A for infrastructure, recognition that EU money was actually spent on something tangible; an A for Residency and of course an A for climate – no surprise there!

Surprisingly for many, but not us, it was awarded an A for Entertainment. This is not New York or London, but you can see a World Premiere of a musical – Blind Faith has its run of 8 performances in October before starting a 60 performance tour in the UK. It isn’t New Orleans or Paris, but you can enjoy jazz, fado, youth orchestras or ballet, most weeks of the year. It isn’t Flushing Meadow or Adelaide, but you can play a tennis tournament most weekends. Wentworth it ain’t but talk to any of the pros and they will tell you that among the 42 courses that grace the Algarve, there will be at least one that will match your favourite anywhere in the world. Plus you won’t have to travel more than an hour to reach any of them. And when it comes to traditional markets and an array of dining experiences, well, there is really no need to travel to Florence, Rio de Janeiro or even Spitalfields.

Health and Real Estate ranked as an A-. Taxes only ranked as a B because the Non Habitual Residency programme, which allows many new resident foreigners to earn pensions tax-free, only lasts 10 years for any qualifying individual. And the Algarve’s lone C was earned in the English Spoken category, not because few people speak English in the region but because Portuguese as a language is considered very difficult for a foreigner to learn.

Forbes, the highly respected and influential magazine, business and entrepreneurial group, was quick to publish news of the Algarve’s new-found status for retirees. The report, which can be found at www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/08/25/the-7-best-places-to-retire-around-the-world/, incorporates the summary of the comprehensive study conducted by Live and Invest Overseas, the US-based publisher which spent months analysing data from different countries.

As Kathleen Peddicord, publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, states of the Algarve and Portugal in general, “it’s the most affordable option in Europe for retirees” – www.forbes.com/pictures/fgmi45jlfe/no-1-the-algarve-portugal. But as she points out, “retiring part-time overseas can also be a good idea”. The publisher frequently encourages those wishing to retire to a new location to do so for a trial period before making a final decision.

Service-based solutions such as those run by www.algarveseniorliving.com, are changing the landscape of the decision-making process of new and potential retirees, providing a way to experience the lifestyle and the region’s many advantages (and any challenges) prior to taking the plunge.

Luis da Silva, Founder and Managing Director at Algarve Senior Living, who has been actively involved as a local correspondent for publications such as the Overseas Retirement Letter, states “we are passionate about living in the Algarve and the many benefits and advantages of life in the region.” Algarve Senior Living assisted in researching and providing relevant data to support the Algarve’s status as an excellent retirement destination.

Algarve Senior Living is not only walking the walk, by launching the region’s first flexible solution for independent seniors. It is also talking the talk, by trumpeting positive data on Europe’s most famous secret, now also the best place in the world to retire. Hope to see you at an Algarve Senior Living village soon, where we walk the talk!

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