Kiri and


Pootling through Portugal

February 20th, 2014 (by Steve)

Forget Marty McFly and his Delorean; we’re Steve + Kiri and we’ve got our Talbot Express Autotrail Chinook. Yes, we’re time travellers. Well, kind of. For the first few days of Portugal we were an hour ahead of everything. You’ve guessed it; we hadn’t realised it was in a different time zone to Spain! Sadly that was the end to the time-travelling, although we did see a dinosaur…


Portugal’s been a funny place for us. Unlike all of the other countries we have visited so far (with maybe the exception of Liechtenstein, Croatia and Macedonia), there weren’t any particular stops planned before we set off. We had no real desire to visit another city (they tend to be quite taxing on both energy levels and the wallet!), despite hearing lovely things about Porto, so we’ve just had a week or so of “pootling” through the country… meandering and seeing where the roads would take us.

Our main discovery upon arriving from southern Spain is that all motorways are toll. Our 2013 Philips Europe road map, which we’ve been using for most of our planning shows several of the motorways as toll-free… but these are apparently electronic toll roads, as opposed to standard cash / card toll roads. At least with the standard toll roads, if you get on them by mistake, you can pay the toll at a gate; with the electronic ones, as there are no toll gates, you have to pay a fine (10 times the toll). Our satnav also didn’t recognise these as toll roads, so journey planning and navigation became a little more involved… trying to get around Porto without ending up on one of the blue toll roads was fun!


So, we’ve established that we avoided the toll roads; the alternatives are some really lovely scenic routes; we got a flavour of real life in rural Portugal, with great natural colours and stunning scenery. It also looked as if the weather system that’s been wreaking havoc in the UK has struck here too. On the way to one of our stops near Lisbon (a little village called Valada), the road was shut due to flooding and we had to find another way around. Just south of Porto, the waves we’d seen previously in the Algarve paled into insignificance as we saw heavy seas and evidence of damaged sea defences.


There is a down-side to taking scenic routes though, and that is that Bertha gets put through her paces a bit more. Some of the road surfaces in Portugal are an interesting choice (cobbles on a main road?), others are in need of a bit of patching up and others have been patched up… but it just seems to have made them worse! Then there are the confusing speed limits. In lots of cases, the only time you know the speed limit is when you see a sign saying that it’s the end of that speed limit. In other cases, you’re repeatedly told (every 50 metres) that it’s a 50 limit. We may have inadvertently sped at times… but we don’t know. We almost certainly inadvertently drove too slowly at other times… but it didn’t seem to annoy the drivers behind as they overtook us; we even got a shaka sign from one!


So, that’s been Portugal for us really, accompanied by some port (who knew that it originates from Portugal!), with lashings of Piri Piri sauce on top

All posts about Portugal

Pootling through Portugal

Stormy seas and myriad motorhomers

2 Responses

Port with Peri Peri sauce on top sounds awful 😛

Dare you to try it…!

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