Escape from Lisbon
An investment opportunity
I was going to write about my visit to the vineyards in the Setubal region this week but unfortunately things didn’t turn out how they should.
I got hit with two very irritating customs of the Portuguese.
When I moved here at the beginning of the century I noticed that so many offices shut for lunch, which meant those people who had jobs could never get to an office when it was open. The public swimming pool shut at weekends, and so on. Nobody seemed to think that the working classes would ever need to use anything outside office hours.
Mercifully things have improved immensely in that respect, and I assumed that the vineyard visits would be running full tilt at weekends. Not so. Most of them dont have visits at all, and even the local wine shop is either shut or is grudgingly open the from 9.00 am to midday on saturday morning.
Since I was way up in the north of Portugal on saturday morning that meant my wine visit to that area went out the window. It’s a three hour drive to get there.
Why I was in the more northerly regions of Portugal was because a colleague is currently buying up old houses, usually in a ruinous state, and turning them into charming rustic dwellings, which can be sold to the rush of Americans escaping their rapidly deteriorating home conditions for a more leisurely and tranquil environment. It’s also a lot cheaper.
And then there are the local tourists; the relatively well-off from Lisbon who want to escape the big city for summer vacations, and/or a weekend retreat.
The area I was looking at is a two hour drive from Lisbon, and so it is possible to live during the week in the city, and commute back to a mountain retreat friday evening, and put up with an early start back to work monday morning.
My friend was looking for interested investors. I am investigating the proposed deal myself, and will get back to you when I have some further information. In the meantime I will add a few pictures of the area.
The big attraction for the Portuguese is that they are acutely aware of their traditions, and have a hankering after the past. The old fashioned village life appeals, so long as it is suitably modernised for comfort, but not too much, if you see what I mean.
The area is also a lot cooler than the big dirty city during the summer months, being up in the mountains. When I was looking round the villages I took an umbrella rather than my camera. To get there I drove through banks of cloud, and scattered showers.
For the landscape, think of a more bucolic Switzerland. Lots of trees and forests, small fields, rock faces, and lots of villages scattered around in amongst the trees and hills, and streams everywhere, with gravel or sand beaches. In fact, if you like that sort of thing, it’s a pleasant place to live, and the people I stopped and spoke to were charming.
The only complaint I have (and that is the second problem I have with Portugal) is that in one sense the area reminded me of Algiers. I dont know if any of you have ever visited that city. I haven’t been back for a long time, but getting directions was a nightmare. Pretty well every street had two, or more likely three names. My journey to Northern Portugal suffered from a similar problem. The R236 is now the IC8. Not exactly helpful. The A13 vanishes like some underground river, only to reappear much later. A sign to the A33 led me into an impenetrable urban jungle. The N120 seemed to have turned into several different roads.
I am rather old fashioned and carried with me printouts from Google maps. Take it from me, they cant be relied on.