Time is an illusion, according to Einstein. Could this be the base of the Portugese lifestyle? Where in general time doesn't have that much of an importance, time just makes a small part of the Portugese life. Whatever it may be, an illusion or an idicator, time doesn't matter that much here.
For the change I don't want to do down on the cliché 'amanhã amanhã' (tomorrow, tomorrow). Not because it's not true -in fact it's very true- but because the irrrelevance of time does have a lot of advantages in daily life. I don't want to pretend that an uncommitted appointment isn't simply very annoying (it is!), but believe me 'every disadvantage does have an advantage'.
So advantages. To start with the length of 'a day'. I'm not talking about 'between sunrise and sunset, but more about an average of let's say six hours extra per day. That's of course an illusion, in full agreement with Einstein ;-) How Portugal manages to have six hours extra on a day? That starts with the greeting-rules. I'm used to switch from 'goodmorning' to 'goodafternoon' at 12 am. But in Portugal you greet 'bom dia' (goodmorning) till lunch hour. That means in case I will go for lunch just at 13.30 pm, it's still being considered as a good morning till there. Only after lunch we switch to 'boa tarde' (goodafternoon) and passing to 'boa noite' (goodevening) only around dinnertime. As dinner is taken between 8 and 10 pm this obviously gives some space for interpretation. A goodafternoon at 8 pm is no exception here.
For sure you notice some space for interpretation within the rules to greet. That brings me right to the next explanation why Portugese days are really longer. Because they don't take it that strict. Neither with the rules-to-greet- ('about' lunch or 'around dinnertime'), nor with 'time' itself. For me that means a great advantage. I don't need to rush for a next appointment, as the one I will meet will do exactly the same. It was never so convenient to be a bit delayed. And also for dinnertime I don't need to stress out, because it simply doesn't function like that here in Portugal. And for some funny and curious reason, this turns out to be contagious.
You might think that it works like this obviously only during weekends. But I can tell you this counts for any day of the week. In the beginning I thought it's me and no one else making the rules at home. So dinner at 6 pm, right? I need to admit that already after a couple of weeks I realized some extra afternoon-hours wouldn't be that bad. Besides that, I wouldn't want to miss out the 'lanche' (after-lunch), where all the Portugese go at about half past five to a nearest padaria (bakery) to drink a coffee and eat something sweet. This makes it way more easy to resist untill late dinnertime.
A long afternoon doesn't interfere with the evening, as you might think. With dinner at about nine, a cup of coffee after, cleaning the table, washing dishes, ironing, giving kids a bath and some television entertainment, people don't go to bed before midnight. As I told you, Portugese days are simply longer. That's not an illusion, but a fact.