I have to stop pinching myself… I’m getting little black and blue spots all over my body. That’s maybe stretching it a bit, but waking up in Lagos, Portugal, is pretty amazing for numerous reasons. About 20 years ago, I came down with a bad case of wanderlust. Luckily, it’s not life threatening…in fact, it’s life enhancing.
Back in the last century (it seems crazy to think of it that way), I made plans to find my own paradise. I traveled through most of Central and South America for several years, before landing in Ecuador for 12 years. It was a wonderful ride, but the time came to seek out the next adventure. That was when Portugal came up on the radar.
Portugal is a phenomenal place to call home, especially if you like being in one of the safest countries in the world (number four), and enjoy year-round spring/ summer weather. Being from Southern California (with near-perfect weather), I had no desire to shovel snow or cook during the summer for the rest of my life.
I love the lowered level of stress in day-to-day things. You walk through neighborhoods, and on every corner will be a little store or restaurant/bar, and folks will just be hanging out having a cold beer or shot of espresso. The elders are telling stories and the kids are playing soccer across the street. Picturesque and peaceful comes to mind.
Portugal has what I call a “refined rustic” feel to it. The people and the food are two big draws, and it has the most incredible coastline I have ever seen. The beaches are breathtaking in their geological beauty. You can find stone arch after stone arch along the coastline, and hidden beaches waiting to be explored by the more adventurous. If you like snorkeling or diving, this is the place. I’ve done beach dives that rival some of the best deepwater dives I have had anywhere else in the past.
If you are a seafood fan, you will be in heaven. Plus, the diet here is just plain old healthy. You can go to one of the many open-air markets and get fresh everything… fruits, vegetables, fish, beef, pork, chicken, spices, honey, spirits (the liquid kind), and much more. You can leave the market with two huge bags of fresh produce and spend about $25.
My music has always been a focal point in my life, and here in Portugal, I have found an outlet for that to blossom once again. The music scene here is the best I have experienced in years. There are tons of restaurants and bars that actively support live music of all genres. What’s more, every village, town, city, and the like has a calendar of events that will keep you busy every day of the week if you so wish. And most of the events are free. Everything from free Portuguese lessons to full-blown concerts with the country’s top artists and orchestras.
Portugal has given me a more relaxed lifestyle and freed up time for me to “polish” some of the old tunes I’ve played for years. As I’m a baby boomer, music came alive for me in the early to mid-’60s. My influences range from the Beach Boys to Led Zeppelin, and everything in between. I am a bit of an oddity here, since few musicians play classic rock as their entire repertoire. Doing so has landed me a number of very good gigs, since a large proportion of tourists here love that type of music and can’t find it easily. So any time you’re in Portugal’s Algarve district, if you hear someone singing “Sunshine of Your Love” or “Smoke on the Water”…it’s probably me.