Monday, 1 August 2016


My hubby & I spent a fortnight/beginning of June on a Portugal road trip in our VW Campervan. Lovely, & lucky I know but I hasten to add (she says disappointedly thinking of aesthetics not the  practicalities), not in one of those really cool old ones painted a dreamy blue (which according to my hubby, would have given us nothing but problems due to their air cooled engines!).

VW Campervan

Anyway, in our fairly new VW Campervan,  we took the 24 hour ferry from Portsmouth to Santander in Northern Spain. It was a very smooth sailing and despite the length of the journey time went pretty quickly. It would have taken us 2-3 days if we had taken the Dover to Calais route and driven through France.

As we arrived about 5.30 in the evening we had already booked a campsite for the first night not far from the port. We had roughly planned our route and length of journey each day with information on campsites. Our second night was just north of the Portuguese border and by the 4th night we had reached the south of Portugal.

We tried to keep off the motorways and enjoy the scenic roads. This did prove difficult on a few occasions because some of the smaller roads weren't quite in our direction. For those unaware (& we weren't until friends told us about a month before), payment for tolls on some of the Portuguese motorways has to be made before you travel by registering your credit card at specific points when you cross the border. However, there are not many of these registration places and we entered Portugal near Braganca where there was no information on how to pay. Apparently, there are car registration number recognition cameras along certain stretches of the motorways and after a while we panicked and got off.

We had stopped off earlier in Braganca and purchased a Data Sim card for our iPad so we could have internet to help find the campsites etc so when we pulled off the motorway we spent about an hour searching online to find a way of paying. Let me tell you, the Portuguese do not make it easy even though it says "Easy Pay"! Somehow, we found a link to purchasing a toll payment card which would notify you by text when your card needed topping up. Despite buying this we weren't 100% sure it would work so we avoided motorways unless we really had no option.

I was absolutely bowled away by the greenness of the countryside and the abundance of wildflowers, not only along the verges but in the fields. I don't know how many times I made the other half pull in so I could take photos! Talking about taking photos, I really struggle to see the display window when the sun is shining or if it's really bright outside so a lot of the time I haven't got a clue if I'm capturing what I intended to capture or not. Or, even, whether its in focus or not. If anyone has any tips they would be gratefully received.

During our trip south we went through regions with mountain sides full of vineyards or eucalyptus trees, rolling hills full of Cork tree meadows, poppy or wildflower fields, cactus fields & newly planted pines and finely, a cliff faced coastline with rolling waves perfect for surfers. The Duoro Valley was especially breathtaking as were the fascinating castles and forts in lots of the cities and towns.

On the south coast of Portugal we stayed 5 nights near Lagos we spent the time mainly relaxing reading and sunbathing with plenty of food and wine. I also took my knitting. I couldn't help myself! As I wouldn't be able to sew or tend to my garden for a couple of weeks I knew I would get withdrawal symptoms so a knitting project was perfect.

On one of our trips out we walked into Praia da Luz then followed a coastal path towards Lagos. Although the path was steep up to the top of the cliff it was quite flat and wide. It lead us to the next beach where we had lunch. The grilled Sardines were delicious. The next section of the coastal path was much trickier than the first. It was very narrow and rocky and got very close to the cliff edge. And I mean, really close! That was when we decided to turn around. It was not worth the risk. 

Our journey home took us north towards Lisbon then across country into Spain then north back to Santander. As we approached the border between Portugal and Spain we had no choice but to use the motorway. We were nearly at the border when the road had been reduced to one lane when a policeman directed us off the motorway into the service area where another policeman waved us down to speak to us. Talk about scared! We thought they were going to check to see if we had paid our motorway tolls. I always think worse case scenario! We'd heard about the police in some countries accompanying you to a cash machine to pay fines and who is going to argue with a policeman when you are in a foreign country? Anyway, we were told to park over by an official looking lady with a clipboard. She came up to us and said "we would like you to come and fill in a questionnaire about tourism". What??!! How have they the right to involve the police in a press gang kind of way to get the visitors to their country to fill in a questionnaire? We didn't feel we had a choice but to do what they asked. It put a little bit of a dampener on leaving Portugal I must say.

Anyway, overall, Portugal is lovely with beautiful scenery. Definitely worth touring around whether in a hotel or under canvas or campervan.

I have just realised this is quite a lengthy post so I apologise for that, but I hope this information is helpful for anyone planning a similar trip. If anyone would like to know our precise route then comment below and I will get back to you.

Hope you all have fun where ever you get to this summer.


No comments:

Post a Comment