Where are all the shops

This one has caused us no end of confusion over the last 6 months. Just where do the Portuguese go to do their shopping – and I’m not talking food shopping here although I do have something to say on that front in just a second!!

No, I’m talking shopping for clothes and other general items that we just take for granted back in the UK. You know that you can walk down any high street in the UK and there will be a multitude of shops all enticing you in to spend you money. Here nada. Actually that is a half truth as electrical shops are in rich supply. But if you want something other than a new toaster or hairdryer then forget it.

Hubby needed a new sleeping bag for his trip and we ended up ordering it from the UK as we had more chance of squeezing blood from a stone than finding one here.

I personally think there is a parallel universe where all the shops are located that we just haven’t found the entrance too yet or it could be that we are just in the wrong region of Portugal and shops have completed by-passed this area. I think by comparison that the Australian outback is more populated than we are here.

Which brings me to food shopping. I’m used to my supermarkets being big, shiny and full of lots and lots of choice. Here the whole supermarket experience is like a throw back to the 70s. A homage to the old Fine Fare and Spa that I used to go to with my mum.

They are small and dingy and the displays are oddly designed so you can’t navigate the trolleys around without a major disaster occurring. Sometimes there is an abundance of produce and other times it is slim pickings and you can’t predict when.

They hand out carrier bags willy nilly – even if it is obvious that you have your own and seem rather put out when you try vainly to explain that you don’t need them.

That said I have never come across more happy check out girls, they kick their surly Spanish counterparts in orbit on that one and the sparse amount of Portuguese I have learned has been taught to me by these ever cheerful girls. One even ran out of the shop once and found me at my car when I had inadvertently left an item of shopping behind – shocking!!

Coming next – how to tackle the language

8 thoughts on “Where are all the shops

  1. Totally different in Turkey. Turks are natural born retailers, spreading the grand bazaar concept far and wide. You can get anything (and I mean anything) in Bodrum. Don’t expect it to work or last though. The is the land of the grand fake.

  2. Bom dia Helen! I have just looked up Elvira on the map! I know nothing of this area but I did find Portugal in general very backward compared to English standards (I don’t wish to offend any Portuguese that may be reading this as there are many things that I didn’t like about our so called Great Britain which is why I relocated for a while!!). The frustrations that I initially had when trying to locate goods in my area of the Costa Brava have diminished substantially due to the opening of many cut price stores. Interestingly run by Chinese. In fact I think they are taking over – hearing a Chinese person speaking Spanish is truly weird!! Before that housewares, clothes, and electrical goods were extremely expensive but now we have Decathlon, Aki (like B&Q) and a plethora of inexpensive fashion stores. So much so that my ‘bring back from the UK’ shopping list is virtually non existent. I shop online for books, organic cosmetics and raw food supplements etc. I rarely buy food in the supermarkets as we have farmers markets nearly every day for seasonal fruit and veg, so cleaning products, loo rolls and water are my main purchases! Will you be staying there for some time or do you intend to move anywhere else for the winter months? Here it can be very cold and I don’t look forward to the bleaker Dec Jan and Feb but shouldn’t complain since we have had a gloriously long summer this year. Take care. xx

  3. Ah yes the good old Chinese shops. To be fair we do have one of those here and it has been a god send.

    We are back in Spain in a few weeks so will have more choice again there and hubby is on his way back from the UK at the moment with a car laden with goodies!!

    It does make me wonder that we are so conditioned into needing material things. Having survived the last 6 months without access to much I do tend to think twice now as to whether I actually need them or not. So I guess in that respect it has been a good exercise. πŸ™‚ xx

    And yes the summer has been amazing here as well. πŸ™‚

  4. Irish supermarkets are not so different, but even now I always get excited when I go back to Wales and see the huge range of different stuff on sale – you’d struggle to find some of the ingredients for Jamie Oliver recipes in our local supermarket….

    • Wow, that surprises me as I thought you would be able to get pretty much anything in Ireland.

      It’s been tough getting raw food supplies since we left the UK. Spain is a little better since we discover Hipercor who do a semi reasonable range of organic goods but really nothing like back home.

      Of course ordering online means you pay so much for postage – almost as much as the item you are purchasing so its not really worth it. I sent a parcel back home via DHL when I was back in the UK for a visit and of course hubby has just picked up a load of stuff and when that is all gone I make do without.

      It means my diet is even more simple than it was which isn’t such a bad thing!!

  5. Yes, there is a lot to be said for a simple diet…I am frankly horrified every time I come back to the UK at the increasing amount of pre-packaged processed ready meals available containing who knows what, and the HUGE amount of extra packaging from supermarket shopping that sits in my daughter’s kitchen waiting a week to be recycled. I’m here now – I am looking at it!! I love the daily refuse collection we have in Spain and the huge recycling bins available everywhere. πŸ™‚ xx

    • It is worrying isn’t it. And there is very little education nowadays as to what is a healthy diet. Pre-processed foods are not healthy and yet unfortunately they are promoted as time saving and nutritious!!

      I recently saw a report saying that the cellulose (which can be found in most processed foods as a filler) is actually wood pulp!! How awful is it that these big manufacturers can put wood pulp in their products and then label it as cellulose that most people would assume was plant based.


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