Posts From Portugal


Portugal and road tolls (Cap St Vincent, Portugal)

Journal entry for Sunday 23rd Apr, 2017 (day 40, miles 72179)

We had to drive 140km this morning before getting to the start of the Portuguese toll road, and all that we had read about it being confusing was to some degree correct. Just after the border there is a place for foreign vehicles to pull off the highway and go through a set of "gates" which accept credit cards. When we got there another motorhome was already parked there with the occupants trying to figure out what was required. While we went through the same process a number of other vehicles arrived and their passengers were also more than a little confused. However it turned out to be pretty simple. At one of the gates, the electronics read the vehicle license plate, once recognized the credit card slot flashes blue and at this point one inserts a credit card. The toll system has now linked the credit card to the vehicle license plate. Thereafter on electronic only toll roads the toll charges are applied automatically to your card. You get a printed receipt from the card machine to verify you have registered which you may have to show at some point. This registration lasts 30 days. So why was it confusing? Because there are at least 3 other options that a foreigner could use to pay tolls, there are two different sets of toll roads and some of the automatic payment mechanisms work on both sets of toll roads. And finally the official websites are hard to find, and even harder to find English versions of them.

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Gum trees (eucalyptus) (Evora, Portugal)

Journal entry for Monday 24th Apr, 2017 (day 41, miles 72333)

Our destination today was the town of Evora (another world heritage listed town). It is inland about half was across the country (east to West) and somewhat north of where we were last night. For a bit of a change we chose a route that consisted entirely of minor highways and NO toll roads. The first 60 kms of the route was through or along the edge of a forest, and through out the day the country side varied between open farm lands and forests.

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A tour of Evora (Evora, Portugal)

Journal entry for Tuesday 25th Apr, 2017 (day 42, miles 72333)

We ventured into the town center of Evora today for a look around. Unfortunately the bus service that usually takes campground residents into the center was not running as today is a Portuguese national holiday. April the 25th is the official celebration day for the Carnation Revolution of 1974 which eventually resulted in democratic government in Portugal and ended the colonial wars whereby Portugal was trying to hold onto its African colonies.

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Storks (Nazare, Portugal)

Journal entry for Wednesday 26th Apr, 2017 (day 43, miles 72461)

So you might be wondering abut the first photo in todays blog entry. Well we have seen many many Storks in their nests on top of electrical poles while driving in Spain and Portugal. But today we saw them for the first time in actual trees and also for the first time more than one nest in a single structure. This got us curious about why so many Storks? Google provided the answer. Traditionally White Storks have migrated across Spain and Portugal to Africa from Scandinavia. But in recent decades have discovered that the unprotected landfill trash heaps in this part of the world to be a reliable source of food and hence they have been able to spend the whole year here in this mild climate. As a result numbers have boomed. However there is a question over the future of these newly non-migrating Storks as there are plans afoot to do away with the landfills and hence deprive the Storks of their abundant food supply. So those that study Storks are awaiting developments. Will the Storks discover an alternative food supply in this part of the world, will they return to their traditional migratory pattern. I would say .. stay tuned .. but this development is likely to be a long process, one that Nina and I will not be watching closely.

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Students and Sanctuary (Lamego, Portugal)

Journal entry for Thursday 27th Apr, 2017 (day 44, miles 72583)

Our first stop today was the city of Coimbra and some what unusually we planned on doing some sightseeing around the town and then moving on all in the same day. A bit more energetic than my usual pace. Thus we needed a place to park within walking distance of the city center and in our Aires guide we found an area along the river near the rowing club listed. When we got to it we discovered that this was a very popular spot as there were already over 50 other motorhomes parked there. Coimbra is famous for its University, the third oldest in Europe. We were particular fortunate in the timing of our visit as the academic year was at its end and graduating students were out and about in their traditional dress. For the men black suits and cape, with accent colors to depict their course of study. For the women white shirts, black skirt, black stockings and cape. One of the traditions we read about but did not witness is the burning of the ribbons. Students traditionally tied their books together with ribbons to make them easier to carry, these ribbons are burned at graduation to signify that the students are no longer studying. Today of course the ribbons are purely symbolic and have become part of the traditional dress, we saw many student ribbons for decoration. The old city and University are built on quite a substantial hill and so during our hour long stroll through the narrow old streets we also got a change to ride the public elevator and public funicular that offer resident and students a slightly less energetic means of ascending that hill. We were blessed with a bright sunny day, and in that light the city looked really spectacular when viewed from across the river at our parking spot.

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Douro Valley (Lamego, Portugal)

Journal entry for Friday 28th Apr, 2017 (day 45, miles 72583)

We discovered during last evening that the hosts of the campground also provided a kind of tour service. So this morning we were driven by our host, in the campground mini van, to the railway station in Peso Da Regua where we caught a train that would take us up the Douro Valley to the very small village of Pocinho and return. The round trip (including the mini van to and from the station) took about 5 hours. The train line follows the Douro River, sometimes, only being a few feet from the water, and for all of its length the line passes through terraced vineyards intermixed with the occasional terraced patch of olive trees. The only downside to this excursion is that photographs are difficult to take through the glass of the train windows.

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