olley's trip to Lisbon

Discussion in 'Continental Touring' started by olley, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. olley

    olley Funster

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    Before reading this please be aware I make no excuses for bad grammer, bad spelling, bad writing or sheer mind numbing boredom. You read at you own risk

    Our 2007 holiday in Portugal

    We decided to go to Lisbon when our daughter got a uni. Exchange via the European ERASMUS scheme, originally we were told the start of September, and then it got changed to the second week in September, finally at the last minute it was moved to Thursday the 6th. So much for European efficiency.

    We left home on Sunday the 2nd at about 12.45, I told the wife 12.00 knowing she would be late, and hoping for about 1.00 so 12.45 was a result. No trouble on the journey arrived about 3.45 for the 4.35 ferry. (P&O £115 return 3 people plus £30 for the cat)

    Travelling with us on the ferry was a Dutch, American enthusiasts group, sporting the most amazing outfits and mustachios, some looked like the killers from “once upon a time in the west”

    Landed at about 18.25 their time and drove the 250 miles to our first stop, the aire at Gace, got there at about 23.00 room for about 6 m/h, on part of the car park in front of the Marie. Three others were already there. I think it might be different in the high season. The local wildlife were racing their mopeds close by until 12ish but apart from that a quiet peaceful night. In the morning I noticed a bread shop 50yds down the road, but the wife informed me that we had plenty of bread. :cry:

    Left Gace at about 09.00 you can only park from about 18.00-10.00 as during the day it’s a normal car park, so not much use if you want to sight see. Drove to St. Jean de Luz and wild camped with some others in a car park near the station, again this is only possible out of hours. And if you don’t leave early you are likely to be blocked in, especially in an RV. There is an aire at the station but there’s only one space that will take anything bigger than about 7 metres. Very impressed with the town and will have to go back one day for a proper visit.

    Left St. Jean about 09.00 and drove over the border into Spain, for the first 30 miles the roads are a bit rough, some reasonably long climbs and descents including one switchback which needed 2nd gear to climb, but if you have been through the mid Pyrenees then this is a doddle. After that they are very good and mostly free. Its all m/way until about 13 miles from the Portuguese border and that’s being dualed now. Found the LPG station in Valladolid just before we ran out, the guy speaks good English gleaned from films and songs, and then stayed at the El Astral campsite 10 miles down the road in Tordesillas. They have Wi-Fi! Magic. Tomtom has the site preloaded in when you buy the maps, its just a pity the GPS is wrong!! Takes you down the wrong side of the river and ends up as a dirt track. Smallish flat site, all grass, friendly owners. Went in the bar and had a drink reasonable prices.

    Left El Astral at 10.00 and drove to the border arriving at 13.00 cross the border and its 12.00 gained an hour for travelling. ran out of LPG 75miles into Portugal, plenty of garages on the m/w but no signs to say they sell it, ten miles after running out I pull in to one for a cuppa and they sell LPG magic, fill up and can now reach Lisbon.

    Hit the m/w between Porto and Lisbon and our first toll since Burgos in Spain, cost €9. Busiest road we have been on for a while as well, but still quiet by our standards.

    I need to say a few words in praise about the m/way’s in Iberia, since leaving France after about 35miles from the border its all m/w in excellent condition, with one short toll section to Burgos The m/w from the Spanish border into Portugal is excellent and looks to be no more than 2-3 years old and its free. And the traffic is very light.
    French m/way’s are good but its cost us nearly £100 to reach the border, whereas its only cost another £20 to reach Lisbon.

    Roads in Lisbon are like any other large city, packed! And in some areas very rough. Finally manage to reach our site, again it’s was on tomtom, but this time the GPS was right and its well sign posted anyway. Site is open all year but as it’s out of season its half empty. Very easy access onto site and around due to wide access roads, and it can take the largest RV’s. All 400 pitches have hardstanding, water, 16amp electric, sewage, waste bin and picnic table and are separated from each other by about 20’ no crowding here. Their is a swimming pool, shop, bar, restaurant and internet café. €22 per night 2 people inc. Van

    Thursday morning another couple come around for a chat, they have the 36’ holiday rambler we noticed last night, been here for 3 weeks and said it was heaving when they arrived, in the middle of the holiday season, and are on a less than ideal pitch, but that was all that was available when they turned up. They eyed up the two either side of us and may move. And one up for the women, he can’t drive it after failing his “C” test 7 times, while she passed first go.

    We did intend hiring a car but after talking to them we take their advice and use the buses, which are clean, frequent and cheap, they also get crowded and the drivers seem to operate on the principle that it’s not full if you can still close the doors. :BigGrin: One thing to note on the buses/metro, you are expected to give your seat up for old people, disabled and pregnant woman, both youngsters and adults do this. This also extends to queues in supermarkets etc.

    Thursday went in to Lisbon to find the Uni. Distance is similar to Abbey wood to the centre of London cost €1.30 each! (all single fares are €1.30) The directions we had were very poor but after asking a street newspaper seller! (who like most people we have found speak English) We found the Uni. Asked the doorlady for directions to the ERASMUS office, if you have ever seen Marvin the robot in Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy; this was his wife, to a “T”

    Don’t know if it’s the same all over Europe in the ERASMUS scheme but the attitude here was friendly, but laid back (horizontal?) “We haven’t sorted that yet; maybe tomorrow we will email you”. (Course starts Monday)

    After some shopping we had dinner sitting in one of the numerous street restaurants, in some places it’s difficult to walk down the street for the table and chairs. I started talking to the guy next to me, Ravi he’s a retired university head of psychiatry, born in India, lived most of his life in Canada, trained as an aeronautical engineer, married to a German lady and they have retired to California. My daughter has an invite to visit them in the states, and his web address where he has details of two books he’s written one on yoga, and the other his autobiography. You couldn’t make it up! Amazing people you meet.
    Its 22.00 getting knackered so we hop on the bus another €1.30 and its back to camp, glass of wine and bed.

    Friday did nothing, just lolled about.

    Saturday Went into Lisbon late afternoon and had a meal in chiado then went for a few drinks in the bars in Barro Alto which is an area in Lisbon packed with small bars and restaurants, loads of people standing in the narrow streets drinking and talking, loads of atmosphere, its still buzzing at 4-5 in the morning (so my daughter informed me) got ripped off in one with very little spirit in our drinks, next one was better. Tried to get a bus at 23.55 but no luck. (the timetable said they run until 01.00) got a taxi back €7.47 cheap.

    Sunday Another day of lolling. Had a chat to a fulltimer here, hes says he pays €11 per night over in the free camping area. Suggested we go to one of the shopping centres for wi-fi access. Also there is a problem in season with thieving on the site, scumbags come in with a tent do a bit of thieving then leave.

    Monday going to Uni to enrol Chloe for language course, get there and find its full but come back at one and it may be ok. What a cock up. Come back at one and its ok, but find we should have been here Friday to enrol because course started today. Guy at the Uni last Thursday knows nothing.

    Tuesday getting up early we hope? To take Chloe to language course. We did. Left her at the Uni. And went to the Colombo shopping centre. Also bought a 5 day unlimited use combined metro and bus tickets €14 each. Bargain.
    Sitting down in the town centre in the evening having a cuppa a guy walks past and grabs the 10 cents change from the bill, a waiter runs after him and they have a scuffle, he returns my money only now its 20 cents so I give the waiter the money.

    You have to watch your self as snatch and run is a problem here as are beggars, who come up to you asking for money, sit outside churches, on the metro steps and in the trains, most of the locals ignore them and after a while so did we.
    Thunderstorm starts at about 20.00 as we are having a meal, we all have to retreat inside the café. Thought we were back in the UK for a moment. Paid €6.00 for a bottle of house wine, not bad either. Get back to site and we have an ant invasion, they are climbing up one of the jacks, along the chassis, in near the front, up and along some cupboards and down into a packet of cat food, how did they find that??

    Wednesday. Smeared engine oil over the jacks and bingo no more ants. Strange they don’t climb up the tyres?? Went to the Vasco Da Garma expo 98 centre, basically a large shopping centre and along the water front a stack of bars/restaurants. We sit down for lunch and order drinks, guy comes out with the whisky bottle, breaks the seal and proceeds to fill my glass, after he’s emptied half the bottle in it he ask’s is that enough! I spend the rest of the afternoon in an alcoholic haze. :Laughing: Chloe is still looking for a room, her friend esther who she met on the language course has decided she does not want to share a room, and the only room she can find in the area she wishes to live is a double. Had a look it’s a dump! But at €280 per month no surprise. Went to an internet café and spent 30 mins for €1 seems cheap, also I can use the pen drive. Had an Indian meal and once again it tipped it down, strange as its been a beautiful day.

    Thursday. Susan has done the wages and I have emailed them to the accountant. Going to meet Chloe at 15.00 The guy with the double room flat has rung her, she can have the room and he will find someone to share it with her. She’s decided to look at another room, apparently it’s a new refurbishment and won’t be ready for a few days. Went to the internet café again and tried to use the pen drive, but you can’t run executables. all you can do is copy to it.
    Had a meal at the Torimallinos restaurant got ripped off €64 including €18 for the wine. Get back to the site and the power is off, tell reception and they fix it. Very hot day.

    Friday. Power off again, effects others as well, put back on after 30 mins. Off to see new flat at 01.00 Got into town for 1 ish. Can’t see room yet, have a wander around, still can’t view room so get some shopping and go back to site for about 18.30 and Chloe cooks dinner.

    Saturday Just sat in the sun until late, then off out. Chloe came in a 05.30 this morning after a night out, loves the relaxed night life.
    Went downtown about 20.30 for a meal in a Chinese stuff your face. Then a wander around Barro alto, left Chloe with some other Erasmus students and came back to camp. Cheapest taxi so far €7.

    Sunday Got up late last day for pool. Loafed around missed the last bus so we sat around RV having a drink. One of the local cats, of which there are many has adopted us, Susan made the mistake of feeding it. Our cat is not amused.

    Monday Went in to Lisbon with Chloe, via the Uni. Jumped on the metro after buying some more 5 day tickets, missed the connection to the green line and finished up at Ralto. Then I walked the wrong way and it started to rain finally got in to Lisbon but to late for the castle as we were meeting Chloe at 01.30. No rooms to look at so we went to Belem found a McDonalds and they do free Wi-Fi, we will come back tonight and connect up. Wandered along the sea front and found what looks like a very good wild camping spot, right on the river front, easy access off the main road for RV’s, about 15 other Motorhomers already there, mostly French. Went over to the monastery and had a look around, impressive church they have, while searching in my bum bag for new batteries the girls do a runner as they reckon I was making a lot of noise and people were looking at me and hissing, being a bit deaf I never noticed a thing, then caught the bus back to site. Came back at 20.00 to McDonalds and connected up after a struggle but it was worth it Then round the corner for a Chinese.

    Tuesday Went into Lisbon again with Chloe, she was very late for Uni. 10.00 Then on the metro and into Lisbon. (Got the connection right this time) hopped on a tram and up to the castle, amazing the grades these trams can climb. Fantastic views of Lisbon, castle was a bit of a disappointment though, only basic history, no in depth analysis of what’s happened to it over the last thousand years. Met Chloe and looked at another room, she’s decided to take it. Move in tomorrow.

    Wednesday Chloe moves into to her room today, wrong, locks not been fixed so its been put back to Thursday. Site internet café has shut till next year, been moved to reception would should mean its open longer. Susan and Chloe gone over to IKEA she’s cooking us a last meal tonight. Paid for the last 7 days €189

    Thursday. Loafed around again until Chloe came in at about 15.00, then she sorted some stuff out and we took it to her room in a taxi at 20.30 they charge another €1.60 for using the boot! still more stuff to go, after dumping it in her room we went for a meal on the steps, no sooner sat down and it started to rain so we went indoors, got a window seat with a super view of the thunderstorm, unfortunately Chloe’s meal was very late arriving, we had finished ours by the time it did and they agreed not to charge for it, but it put a damper on the evening.

    Friday. Took some more stuff to Chloe’s room this morning on the bus, after she comes back from Uni this afternoon we will take the final lot. Got a bit annoyed, they went over IKEA and bought some more stuff! So its another taxi load, and its all got to be picked up in 5 months. That’s 2 taxi loads and one bus load!! Bought some bacon bread?? Thought it was fruit loaf, we had some with a fried egg not to bad but prefer fruit loaf.
    Got a tram to Belem after dropping Chloe's stuff of and went into McDonalds for the free Wi-Fi. Did the wages then wandered across to the wildcamping spot we saw last week, people definitely staying the night.

    Saturday. Delivered some more stuff!! Then went shopping in her local supermarket, most food seems about a third cheaper, except baked beans which are €3 a tin! (found out later that the uk consumes 97% of all baked beans made) left her to get ready for a party and came home, Susan not feeling well went to bed early

    Sunday Loafed around, then Chloe came over at 16.00 sunbathed and then had a bar-bi, phoned the nanas’ and Michelle before taking Chloe to the bus stop for 21.30 then paid up to date for site. Susan not been feeling to good all day.

    Monday off to the Algave. Susan still not feeling very well, so staying on site for another day. Chloe text she’s not feeling to hot either and has missed a lesson. Chloe came over and they both went sunbathing by the pool. Very hot. I went over reception and told them we were stating an extra night, later about 22.00 the electric was turned off!! And I had to go down reception again, they thought we were trying it on, no record of me telling them we were staying longer.

    Tuesday. Left site about 12.00 filled up with gas down the road, couple of sharp bends to leave station. Went over the Vasco da Garma bridge and straight to Freeport. Plenty of room to park in the very large car park but centre has quite a few empty shops, Had a Brazilian meal, you help yourself to salad and hot vegetables then they carve meat from a rotisserie straight on to your plate. Left about 18.00 and went shopping at a Carrefour on the road between the two bridges. Then drove to the coast and had a look at two campsites, one looked very scruffy, as its very late we decided to go to Belem and wildcamp, plenty of room so parked up with about 15 others. Another hot day

    Wednesday. Nice to wake up and see the river, beautiful spot, Van is creating a bit of attention. Coaches come here to off load people to view the monument and have given us a few worries as they turn around. I reversed back to the edge of the pond behind us to give them more room. (They seem to stop after about 01.00) Went up the monument to “Henry the navigator” €2.5 to go to the top, Susan stayed in the van, good view took some pictures. Off to McDonalds for internet. Then back to the van as the battery goes flat, after recharging we go back later for internet and chinky but the internet won’t work?? As the staff don’t even seem to know what Wi-Fi is, give up and go looking for dinner (limit on one connection per day maybe?) go looking for Indian but no luck so come back to van for egg on bread.

    Thursday Wandered about Belem after sunbathing all day, then back for egg on bread for tea. (We live the high life) We need to go shopping. :BigGrin:

    Friday Meeting up with Chloe sometime. Decide to go to her room as she has internet now, do the wages then back to the van for sunbathing. Decide to go to Carrefour In the evening, while driving along next to the railway line I take the offside mirror off on a overhead wire support stanchion, I blame Susan, naturally she disagrees (women! Never admit when their in the wrong) OK crap bit of driving! They spend 3 hours in Carrefour!! We go over the chinky behind the van, huge place superbly decorated, good meal, large portions, new place doubt it’s been open long, almost empty.

    Saturday Leave Belem about 8.30 drop Chloe off in the square, Susan's goes with her to help carry bags, I do a circuit of the square and decide to go around the Restauradores square to give her more time, wrong!! You can’t go around, have to go to Marques de Pombal before I can turn around, and return to the square, no Susan, she’s decide to move to a better position in the bus lane, unfortunately I am looking in the old position and I don’t see her, driving a 9 ton 30’ vehicle around unfamiliar and busy streets doesn’t leave much time to look about! I park up in a foul mood a few streets away, phone Chloe who goes looking for Susan, then phones me to say she has found her, so I go back pick her and off we finally go. Hit a traffic jam around the airport but after that traffic is pretty light. Arrive in Salamanca about 18.00. now to find Camping Ruta de la Plata, Tomtom has the coordinates wrong again! Find the site and book in, not impressed, manage to get on a pitch after a bit of manoeuvring, 2-3 are big enough for an RV but site looks a bit run down, some of the pitches seem so covered with branches, as to stop any vehicle getting on. Access road also has overgrowing branches and needs a trim as they scrape the side of the van as we go down, at the mo they are small but unless trimmed will stop access in a few years for RV’s

    Sunday Leave at 10.00 forgot they are 1 hour in front so its actually 11.00 drive to Valladolid and fill up with LPG, surprised he’s open Sundays, friendly guy says the sites is closing in the next few years and moving but doesn’t know where. Drive in to France and get stopped at a toll booth by cops no idea why, after looking at passports we are waived on. Park up at the car park in St. Jean de Luz, go for a wander, loads of people sitting outside in the narrow streets eating, most restaurants major on fish, but they are dear, it’s lovely and warm, then back for tea. After having a good look at the Aire next to the station I believe there is one pitch an RV could get on, unfortunately it’s already filled with a Euro. You would need to drive into the aire and reverse back into the slot, and getting out would involve reversing into the road, but no probs for us Rver’s

    Monday Drive to Parc Veger I stay on the N roads and have no problems, we arrive about 18.00 Nice site, very friendly owners who live on site in their RV. 9 pitches designed for RV’s all with water, electric, sewage and wi-fi. 10% discount for ARVE members. €15.30

    Tuesday loafed about and made use of the wi-fi went for a walk in the village about 18.30, very quiet, bought a French stick and came back for tea.

    Wednesday We have to start back home left parc verger about 10.00 and part of the way took bobs route home, first to Vierzon good road, about 100 miles of free m/way and then on to Orleans a good single carriageway, decided to stick to non-toll roads after this, bit of a mistake as getting through Orleans was a bummer, needed to go under an underpass, trouble was there was only 3.3m clearance, and the slip road was blocked with parked cars. Turned left only to find that had a height restriction as well!! Tomtom eventually got us out of it, but after Orleans roads became crowded. After Chatres we stopped at a E. Leclerk at Dreux, Susan was most unhappy when they closed at 18.30 :Smile: Decided to find an aire, first choice was just outside at St Remy Sur Avre from “Camper Stop Europe” but we were unable to find it so carried on towards Rouen and one from the same book at St Germain de Pasquiel, after tomtom tried to send me down a 4’ wide road to reach it we gave it a miss, so drove on to another at the other side of Rouen at Montville from “All the Aires” he does mention a problem with bridge heights to reach this Aire, 2.34m is one heck of a problem. A quick reverse after seeing the height sign and we gave this one a miss to, seem to have a problem with heights today, finished up in a large car park near there in a small village called Fresquiennes. Good wild camping spot, loads of room for the biggest RV

    Thursday Off about 9.00 decided to look the vets up in Ardes to see what parking was like and also check out a campsite near their, put the coordinates in from the big pitch guide, BIG Mistake never checked them, I put them in wrong, ended up about 80 miles out in the wrong direction to Calais; blamed Susan again. On the way to the main road I clipped the grass bank to avoid another car, never thought much of it, but later when we stopped at a service station I noticed the middle was missing out of the front wheel trim and then French customs rollup, where have we come from? Do we have any wine? Do we have any ciggies? Then the lady customs officer sees the cat, end of questions and much stroking of cat. I now just put Ardes in tomtom and takes us straight there. Parking is good, directly opposite Vets, easily get the largest RV in. Gave up with the campsites as they all appear to be shut, stayed at the Calais Plage Aire €7 per night and watched the boats come in along with 20 or so others as we drank vino.

    Friday up at 07.30 and of to the vets in Ardes parked up opposite and took kitty in, very through and friendly vet, cost €34.80 so well chuffed. A Scottish guy got charged €97 for two medium sized dogs. Back to site with a slight detour to Auchan, Comformarama and Sainsburys. Gassed up and back to site. English guy in the next van asks if I have any blade fuses, his telly won’t work! I find him two, he owns a campsite in spain which will take up 34’ RV he gives me a leaflet. He’s been in the uk visiting, spent a few days in Newquay temperature dropped to 2c one night!!
    We decided that as it was our last night we would splash out on a slap up meal, after examining the menus in various restaurants we settle for a plate of chips from the burger van on the quay. :BigGrin:

    Saturday Get up and do some last minute shopping at City Europe, the new camping car park is unsurfaced, but ok. Caught the 16.10 ferry back to England.

    Statistics:
    Milage: 3110
    LPG used: 2145 litres
    LPG MPG 6.5
    Cheapest LPG €.59 Portugal/Spain
    Dearest LPG €.78 France
    Total cost:€ 1480/£1021


    Tolls:
    Going: €170.15/£117 approx. £100 in france £17 in spain/portugal
    Return: €76.70/52.90 approx. £46 in france £30 in spain/portugal

    Campsites:
    26 nights: €398/£274
    8 nights wild.

    In all the time we were away (5 weeks) we only 2 bad days and they were warm, the rest of the time it was either hot or very hot. Mostly around the high eighties.

    Olley
     
  2. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Great write up Olley, I have never been to Portugal, but its definitely on the list. Can't wait to see some photos in the Gallery:Wink:
     
  3. Don Madge

    Don Madge Funster

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    Well done Olley

    Olley,

    I enjoyed the write up, :BigGrin: A better read than those god awful write ups you get in the motorhome mags at times.:Eeek:

    Don
     
  4. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Nice read Olley. looking forward to some pics.. and thanks for the GPS co ordinates for Belem.. :thumb:

    Jim
     
  5. Road Runner

    Road Runner Read Only Funster

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    Well that was an excellent read thank you:Wink:

    Nice to her all went well an was stunned when someone mentioned Parc Verger and you came on line being there as we typed:Laughing:

    We had intended to stop there but it transpired with the bus messing around on way out wasn't possible this trip.

    Are you up for our Welsh meet in November?
     
  6. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Thanks for the pictures Olley they are great. I like your panorama of the wildcamp :BigGrin:
     
  7. Suzy

    Suzy Funster

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    Olley,

    Thanks very much for sharing your trip with us, it was really good reading! :BigGrin: In fact it has whetted our appetite we may try and visit on the way home from Morocco!
     
  8. olley

    olley Funster

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    Hi guys thanks very much for the positive comments, their much appreciated.

    Olley
     
  9. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Nice write up Olley, very interesting mate. We will be going to Parc Verger next year (already booked it), so we were pleased to read your report about it. We were amazed that as soon as Sharon posted about going there, on you came and said "I'm parked there now" :Laughing: Small world eh?
    Glad that you had a great time and I'm sure that Linda can help out with new mirror and wheel trim :Eeek:
    See you soon

    Keith
     
  10. olley

    olley Funster

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    Hi Keith, yes that was an amazing coincidence, I just logged on and their was sharons post.:BigGrin: not sure what we are doing just before the moroccan trip as ray is proposing a meet before we set off, so we may not have time for more than one night on the way down (if he's got room with all you guys filling the place up)

    He has bought some more land to extend the site, but that will be mainly for euro's and caravans.

    Forgot to mention, as you go up the drive the lady to the right sells free range eggs, rabbits and champagne. Also car hire is available locally at about €35 per day and I believe bob will run you there. (dropped him in it now :BigGrin:) he also has a small swopping Libary.

    Olley
     
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