First Hand Experience – House Sitting Portugal

This article is first hand experience from Karyll Browne. It outlines what it is like to house sit in Almocageme, Portugal – This article is for those who are interested in retiring or house sitting in Portugal. We hope this gives you an insight to what your experience could be like! 

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An Overview – House Sitting in Portugal

We were lucky to get this house sit in Portugal through Nomador as the homeowner had a bad experience previously with a sitter who had not shown love to her dogs and was a ‘rather strange person’ as the neighbours put it – the neighbours like to keep an eye on the sitters – yay!

The owner was particularly wary of men sitters and I had to send photos, references, testimonials and reassure her that my partner loved dogs – probably more than I did – me being more of a cat person.

After many weeks of reassurance prior to the sit and maintaining contact via WhatsApp (an essential tool to the avid house sitter), we were accepted and planned our trip with eagerness. The village we would be staying in, Almocageme, was ideally situated on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, just an hour from Lisbon and half an hour from the center of Magikal Sintra. We felt blessed.

Portuguese is a hard language to learn; it’s very guttural and even trying to pronounce ‘Almocageme’ (Al-mo-ca-jem) took me the three weeks we were there, to learn. You had to hear it from the locals and then ask them to repeat it. An inviting village spread over a mile strip; enough shops, restaurants and bars, and a market but not too touristy, even though it claims to have the second-best beach in Portugal – Praia de Adraga.

Now, if you like a walk, the beach is 1 km from the village – downhill. And, guess what? Yes, you have to climb back up! We did this once and then took the car! There is a fabulous fresh fish restaurant right next to the beach – the Restaurant de Adraga. Very rustic, nothing fancy, but the food is out of this world and reasonably priced. And you get one of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable.

Atlantic Ocean While House Sitting Portugal

The Home and Local Area

The house that the owner rented was the least to say, rustic. Homely, comfortable, and set in a prime position with a distant view of the Atlantic.

The main thing I liked was that it was just around the corner from village life – cafe, restaurants and town square so there was no distance to return home after a night ‘on the village’. We visited all the establishments, especially the Sol de Adraga café that the locals frequented each evening for a drink or a meal.

We had two dogs and a cat to look after. Both dogs had been rescued by the owner and one was on medication for a newly diagnosed condition. We followed the precise dog sitter instructions on feeding, meds and walking so that the dogs would be content and healthy.

One thing that was tricky was removing burrs from one dog’s longish fur after each walk. But, as you will know, once a dog gets to know you, they are extremely trusting and this became a doable task for my dog-loving partner. It is unnerving knowing that one of your charges is unwell or old and especially as when we applied for the house sit, she was fit and well.

The dogs could be left happily in their yard for a few hours while we explored the area. We always made sure they had a good walk and were fed, with plenty of accessible water whilst we were out.

We took advantage of the excellent bus service going North to Sintra or South to Cascais and all in between. Sintra is the most magical of places and deserves exploring in depth. As Lonely Plant says “it’s a Portuguese fairy tale” and it certainly is; there is so much to see and do comfortably.

I would suggest getting a Tuk-Tuk up to the Moorish Palace. If you have never taken a Tuk-Tuk ride, you are certainly missing something unique. Not only are they a cheap form of transport, you get a fun ride with a local person nipping through the back streets and away from the crowd
if you are lucky. Hold onto your hat though, they don’t dawdle!

A trip down to Cascais market gives you an impressively scenic bus ride. As with most markets, you can get almost anything you want there – and at reasonable prices.

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Almocageme Market Square

Unexpected While House Sitting in Portugal

We had spent a day with the owner getting to know the pets and the area, especially the walks. She had drawn us a map showing all the preferred places to walk safely with the dogs. We got the hang of the routes and confidence with the dogs.

One thing the owner wanted was for the male dog to be let off the lead. Not something I would normally agree to, but she reassured us, and we could see as a large collie, he needed a run and did come back easily.

After a week or so into the sit, we were doing one of the usual walks and somehow the dog got himself into a fenced-off, uninhabited, overgrown area. So he was running alongside us but behind a fence! Although we were concerned, he was having the time of his life. We just had to find his exit!

Giving meds was straightforward. Each dog got a piece of sausage and the dog that needed the meds had the tablet inside her sausage. Yep, guess what? Whilst under pressure from the dogs to provide the sausage quickly, my partner managed to give the tablet-filled sausage to the wrong dog! Both of these ‘incidents’ we only told the owner on her return – she laughed so much she cried. We were the ones to be reassured then!

This is the house-sitting experience of Karyll Browne from Its Never Too Late Lifestyle.

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