Tomar (Day 1 – Central Portugal Tour)

This was our lunch stop, a couple of hours out of Lisbon, (on the first day of our Central Portugal one-week trip), to the charming, small town of Tomar on the banks of the Rio Nabão. Its old quarter is typically attractive, laid out as a grid of cobbled streets centered on a fine square, and there are lovely riverside strolls to enjoy and green woods for picnicking. We enjoyed lunch at a small cafe in the heart of the old town, before exploring the convent on the hill behind the town, standing sentry, and the real reason for our visit.

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Bussaco Palace (Central Portugal Tour)

The Bussaco Palace Hotel (Palace Hotel do Buçaco) was built between 1888 and 1907, originally as a palace for King Charles I of Portugal as a royal retreat, or “hunting lodge,” as he referred to it as.  And it embodies a beautiful architectural style referred to as “castle romanticism,” which is obvious quickly upon your arrival to the hotel, and from the photos above and below.

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“Covão dos Conchos” Water Feature

This waterfall feature in central Portugal has been getting quite a bit of attention on the Internet lately. At first we thought that somehow this waterfall took place naturally, but after a little bit of searching we discovered it is actually the entrance, a funnel, to a 1,520 meter tunnel. The lake, or pond rather, was created by the construction of two small dams located in a small basin area on top of a mountain. Water runoff from the mountains collects here and then is funneled down the tunnel to supply water for the region.

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Time Out Market, Lisbon

This is a must-do when in Lisbon. The Time Out Market is similar in concept to the Eataly markets that originated in Italy (Turin, I believe), but are now popping up in major markets in the USA. This one involves actually two markets, the old Ribeira Market, which can be traced back to the 13th century as a central city market, and still is one of Europe’s most famous fish markets. But there’s also fresh fruit and vegetables available as well. But next door is where the fun really takes place.

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Portugal’s Non-Habitual Resident Taxation Regime

Portugal has become increasingly popular recently for people wanting to obtain residency in the country, because of its fiscal advantages and the opportunity to be able to live and travel throughout the European Union. Done correctly, the amount of tax payable on incomes earned outside of Portugal, can lead to one paying 0% in tax.

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Getting to know Portugal, Part III

Our original plan was to spend a week exploring the south of Portugal, especially the Algarve region, but after so many days on the road, and pressing matters in Lisbon, we decided to just go south halfway for a couple of days, to a hotel we already had booked and would lose otherwise.

We went along the coastline from Setubal, following the coast as much as we could. The coast, for the most part, is very much made up of sand dunes, brush, beaches and rock cliffs, and it is all quite remote. We passed through Porto Covo which looked nice and seems that it would be pretty popular for surfing in the summer. But it was all pretty dead in mid’ October.

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Getting to know Portugal, Part II

Our second journey took place when we returned in the fall to take care of our residency papers and close on the sale of our apartment. We headed north to visit Lousa, the Douro region, Porto and Nazaré. Along the way we also met up with some friends from Canada, Dru and Ted and Kimi from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Lousa was chosen as a break for our drive up to the Douro River, and because we liked the pictures of the Lousa Palace Hotel in this small town just east of Coimbra. Not really a lot to see or do in town, but the hotel is quite something. There are large, elaborate sitting areas, the main dining room is amazing, and the rooms are spacious and wall appointed. And the price is right as well. But again, not a lot to do in Lousa!

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Getting to know Portugal, Part I

Since Portugal is going to be our place of residency for the next few years, we returned there this fall to travel the country and get to know it a little better. Portugal is not a big country, just 1% the size of the country I grew up in – Canada. So getting to know it shouldn’t take a lot of time. Our first journey out took us west and north, to Cascais, Sintra and Ericeira.

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Portuguese Residency

We have been working on becoming Portuguese residents for some time now, as we have started a process to leave Mexico. Becoming Portuguese offers me full-time residency in Europe, so I can come and go as I please. Portugal also comes with some nice fiscal benefits. One part of the residency process involves having a home in the country so we bought an apartment in Lisbon. It was completely gutted when we saw it, which allowed us to design the layout ourselves and put in everything new. It was a fun experience and the contractors were great. They came in on budget and finished ahead of schedule.

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