Love Surfing? Try the top spots in Portugal

Here’s a handy infographic by the guys at Momondo showing the top surfing spots in Portugal. Portugal not only has some of the best beaches in Europe it also has some of the best waves. With spots for all levels – why not check them out? I used to live near Arrifana which is a beautiful spot and great for all levels of surfer. One word of warning though – it does get very busy in summer!

View the original and full article here: 10 unmissable spots that make Portugal a surfer’s paradise


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Study Abroad Scholarship with Pimsleur (US readers only, sorry!)

Pimsleur Approach’s 2014 Study Abroad Scholarship


Students with the most thought-provoking and well-reasoned essay, as judged by a panel of Internet Order LLC staff members, will win one of the three top prizes:

  • 1st $1000 + Pimsleur Approach system of your choice
  • 2nd $500 + Pimsleur Approach system of your choice
  • 3rd Pimsleur Approach system of your choice

* Be sure to read the rules and submission details carefully before entering. No purchase necessary and no fees are required to enter.

About the Pimsleur Approach Scholarship:

This scholarship is in honor of renowned linguist and language educator, Dr. Paul Pimsleur. In honor of his commitment to language-study research, this award will help make language and culture more accessible to American college students.

Pimsleur believed in cultural exploration as a lifetime pursuit and that effective communication needn’t be cost-prohibitive. This scholarship opportunity can help provide an immersive experience consistent with Pimsleur’s mission to take language learning out of the classroom and into the world.

For more information please check out the full scholarship details and sorry folks this is for US students only!

Note: we have no affiliation with Pimsleur nor do we know anything about the Pimsleur Approach, we received an email directly from them about this scholarship opportunity so if you wish to proceed please be sure to check it out thoroughly. If you are interested in learning about Pimsleur, you may find this review helpful: Pimsleur Approach Review – An Honest Look

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Moving to Italy? Here’s 7 blogs to check out …

Thinking of moving to Italy? Then here’s some blogs from expats who have already made that move. Read all about their lives in Italy and the fun and frustration they have in their new lives.

runRunbritchickrun –
I love to blog about life in Roma, my running & fitness and food.

umbriaAmericans in Umbria –
Our experiences retiring to a small town in Umbria

oilMixing Oil and Water –
Exploring little-known corners of Italy in the regions of Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia

englishmanEnglishman in Italy –
An Englishman, his Sicilian wife and an English – Italian dictionary.

petinitalyA Blog on Pets in Italy –
Blog and resource for people with pets in Italy – cats, dogs, horses, geesem, you name it! Brought to you by British writer Fiona Tankard – resident in Italy since 1994

greenholidayGreen Holiday Italy –
I am a freelance journalist living in a stunning corner of Italy. This blog is your guide to responsible travel in Italy. Slow food, off-the-beaten-track destinations, walking, trekking, cycling, ecotourism, nature.

parmamiaParma Mia! –
Parma Mia! is a blog written by two expats offering advice, tips and personal recommendations to help you best take advantage of your time in Parma. Our blog introduces you to the highlights of Italian bureaucracy, assists you in finding English speaking doctors, kids activities, shops, keeps you up to date on local events and venues, and more!

For more blogs to read, check out the Italian list from ExpatBlog and also from ExpatWomen

For some basic facts about Italy, please view our Moving to Italy page.

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National Days in the EU

EU flags

Today is St David’s Day, the national day of Wales. So, I thought it’d be fitting to provide a list of all national days for the current EU countries. I’ve also included any dependencies that are also located in Europe and as United Kingdom does not have a recognised national day the four constituent nations of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) all have their own Saint’s Day so they are included:

Austria 26 October (The Neutrality Constitution of 1955)
Belgium 21 July (Belgian National Day and 14 July in Liège, commemorates Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld taking the oath as first king of the Belgians in 1831). 14 July
Bulgaria 3 March (Liberation Day, signature of the Preliminary Peace Treaty of San Stefano between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire in 1878)
Croatia 25 June (Statehood Day, declaration of independence from Yugoslavia 1991)
Cyprus 1 October (Independence Day (from the UK) 1960)
Czech Republic 28 October (Independence from Austria-Hungary (as Czechoslovakia) 1918)
Denmark (no official National Day) 5 June (Constitution of 1849)
Estonia 24 February (Independence Day, declaration of independence from Russia 1918)
Finland 6 December (Independence Day, declaration of independence from Russia 1917)
France 14 July (Bastille Day, 14 July 1789)
Germany 3 October (German Unity Day, unification of West Germany and East Germany 1990)
Greece 25 March (Start of War of Independence from Ottoman Empire 1821), 28 October (Ohi Day, rejection of the Italian ultimatum 1940)
Hungary 15 March (1848 Revolution memorial day), 20 August (St. Stephen’s day), 23 October (1956 Revolution memorial day)
Ireland 17 March (St. Patrick’s Day, patron saint of Ireland)
Italy 2 June (Festa della Repubblica, Italy became a republic in 1946 – Giuseppe Garibaldi died on this date in 1882)
Latvia 18 November (Declaration of independence from Russia 1918)
Lithuania 16 February (Lithuanian State Reestablishment Day, declaration of independence from Russia and Germany 1918); 6 July (Statehood Day, establishment of the medieval Lithuanian kingdom by Mindaugas in 1253.)
Luxembourg 23 June (the Monarch’s birthday)
Malta 31 March (Freedom Day, withdrawal of British troops from Malta 1979), 7 June (Sette Giugno, bread riot of 1919 where 4 Maltese men died), 8 September (Victory Day, victory over the Ottoman Empire in the Great Siege of Malta 1565; Italian government publicly announced agreement to an armistice with the WWII Allies, therefore ending the attacks on Malta by the Italians 1943) 21 September (Independence Day, independence from the United Kingdom 1964), 13 December (Republic Day, republican constitution of 1974, therefore becoming a republic).
Netherlands (country) 27 April (King’s Day, King Willem-Alexander’s birthday), 5 May (Liberation Day, from Nazi Germany in 1945)
Poland 3 May (Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja, Constitution Day, 1791), 11 November, (Święto Niepodległości, Independence Day, restoration of independence from Austro-Hungary, Prussia, and Russia in 1918)
Portugal 10 June (Portugal Day, “Day of Portugal, Camões, and the Portuguese Communities”, National Poet Luís de Camões dies in 1580)
Romania 1 December (Union Day, unification with Transylvania 1918)
Slovakia 29 August (Slovak National Uprising Day, start of a Slovak uprising against Nazi Germany 1944), 1 September (Constitution Day, independence from Czechoslovakia 1993)
Slovenia 25 June (Statehood Day, declaration of independence from Yugoslavia 1991)
Spain 12 October (Fiesta Nacional de España, Columbus discovery of America 1492)
Sweden 6 June (Gustav Vasa is elected King of Sweden 1523, the constitutions of 1809 and 1974)

Catalonia (Spain) 11 September (Catalonia loses its nominal independence and constitutions after the fall of Barcelona 1714)
England, United Kingdom 23 April (St George’s Day, patron saint of England, not a bank holiday)
Gibraltar, United Kingdom 10 September (Gibraltar National Day, people of Gibraltar vote to reject Spanish sovereignty or association 1967)
Isle of Man, British Islands (usually) 5 July (Tynwald Day, Tynwald (parliament) annual meeting)
Jersey, British Islands 9 May (Liberation Day, the end of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II 1945)
Guernsey and Dependencies, British Islands 9 May (Liberation Day, the end of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II 1945)
Madeira Day 1 July (Autonomy from Portugal)
Minorca, Spain 17 January (Alfonso III of Aragon took the island from Muslims, 1287)
Kingdom of the Netherlands 15 December (Kingdom day, signing of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands 1954)
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom 17 March (St. Patrick’s Day), 12 July (Battle of the Boyne Day)
Sark, Guernsey, British Islands 9 May (Liberation Day on 10 May, the end of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II 1945)
Scotland, United Kingdom 30 November (St. Andrew’s Day, patron saint of Scotland, now a bank holiday)
Wales 1 March (St. David’s Day, patron saint)

All information courtesy of Wikipedia. Image courtesy of Matt Banks /

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5 Top Tips for Expats-to-be

Top tips for moving to EuropeWhen moving abroad there are always tons of things to plan and consider. There are plenty of places to get help and speaking to other expats who have made the move really does help.

Sometimes though, there are just some very simple tips that will make your move just a bit easier. Here are my top 5:

1- Rent before you buy – now a lot of people would disagree with this because potential expats usually know the place they are moving to quite well, due to holidays etc. But as we all know, a holiday is nothing like day-to-day life. You may find that the area you move to isn’t quite how you imagined or worse that your new home is a builder’s nightmare. Personally, I thought I’d be able to cope living in an apartment because I was close to the sea, but I was wrong! I knew that I probably should have tried to hold out a bit longer for a small house with a garden but we were worried about rising prices and in the end chose a location that my other half preferred, rather than a property I liked. If we had rented I’d have known pretty soon that the setup wasn’t for me and we would have had time to look around more thoroughly. Similarly, many people originally think they like the idea of living near other expats until they move in and realise that it wasn’t such a good idea after all. So consider whether renting (short term or long term) might be a better idea for your family.

2- Make sure you won’t get bored – Tied to the first tip as well, because this is quite a lot to do with location. Ask yourself this – is there really enough to keep yourself occupied in your chosen location? If you are retired this is even more important, that holiday feeling soon wears off and it’s easy to get into a downward spiral of doing nothing. It’s easy to slip into bad habits such as starting drinking at 10am in the morning, never travelling outside the location they’ve moved to and, with what seems like a real expat community problem, having affairs!

3- Learn the language – sure everyone says this and most people do try a few words and phrases thinking they’ll get by, and in quite a lot of places (especially if you retiring) it might be enough. But, you’ll never really integrate in society. You’ll miss out on all the local newspapers and TV and making new friends in your chosen country. There are so many places now on the internet to start learning before you leave (for free) and plenty of places to get really stuck into advanced courses. Even though this may cost you money it will definitely be worth it. Once you’re in your new country make as much effort as you can to try out your new language skills, even the smallest attempt is usually appreciated. If you still don’t think it’s worth it then check out these 5 reasons to learn the language.

4- Make sure you have enough money to live on – when I lived in Portugal there was an expat over there who had moved out with the intention of only living on her pension. This was the UK state pension, not a private one. Of course, when she first went everything was OK but then all of a sudden prices started going up and then the pound crashed and was a parity with the Euro for a short while. She had, in effect, lost a third of her income. She wasn’t the only one relying on UK income but she was an extreme case. Most people forget that they are at the mercy of the exchange rates and seem to rely on them forever being the same, but as we have seen in the last 5 years, they certainly don’t. Only one couple that I knew of had converted a huge chunk of their savings into Euros (but that’s another set of risks and another story), but still, these sort of changes and their effects must be considered before you make the move. The other issue is one of work – don’t assume you’ll just find a job. Even before the recession it wasn’t that easy to find work and many people were trying to without even learning the language first. From my own experience – if you’re not moving with a job – then give a thought to being self-employed, check out the portable careers series for some ideas.

5- Do your homework! – yes moving to some countries look really cheap on paper but what’s the reality? Portugal used to be a great place to move to because (outside of the southern Algarve) the cost of living was low, houses were cheap and the exchange rate was good (oh how things change!). But, one thing that was very, very expensive was the prices of cars. Factor that into the equation and things start to look differently. Make sure when you do your budgeting that you include everything you’ll need to live on, including the costs of local taxes etc. Don’t leave anything out or you could be in for a shock.

Moving abroad is amazing and I would recommend it to anyone, but make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for!

What are you top tips for expats to be? Please leave a comment below:

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Is this the coolest government site?

swedenMost governments have websites providing visitors useful information about their countries. Most are pretty dry and not very well put together. But, Sweden’s is a real pleasure to read.

The home page has striking imagery combined with useful facts and figures about all aspects of Sweden and Swedish life. All of which can be read about and viewed in much more detail including a particularly useful post on the ‘20 things to know before moving to Sweden‘. The post has tons of advice with further links to explore more. The whole site is well put together and makes learning about Sweden fun and interesting, as well as being a starting point for further information.

As a web developer as well I really appreciate the look and feel of the site – it is well put together and of the highest quality. It’s the kind of website I’d expect a country like Sweden to have.

If you are looking at moving to Sweden (or even if you aren’t!) then go and check out, it’s definitely worth a read.

For more basic information about Sweden and some local blogs to read, check out our ‘I’m moving to… Sweden page‘.

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