We are now in Portugal, arriving here on Friday. What was to have been a two day journey took a day in the end when we decided on a change of route which took less miles but meant we did it all in one day. The journey was easy going on near empty roads and the cats did great and because Portugal is actually on UK time and not an hour ahead like Spain, we gained an hour coming over the border.
We found the campsite with no problems and the dutch owner – Siebo and his Portuguese wife Catrina could not have been more helpful since we arrived. It is a small site set in farm land surrounded by cork trees and wild meadow flowers. The only down side is that there is a busy road running along the side. We are far enough away from the road that it won’t cause a problem for the cats but it is a little noisy; can’t have everything obviously.
One of the reasons the road is so busy is that it runs parallel to a toll road and at 6 euros for less than 20 miles no-one uses it! Portugal are going through a deep recession and are likely to be the third country from the five PIIGS countries (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) to need a bail out from the economic disaster. The government proposed an austerity package back in March which was rejected by the Lisbon parliament and led to the resignation of the Prime Minister. The new government is not due to be elected until June so interesting times here for sure.
As well as expensive toll roads, fuel costs here are very high. In Spain we were paying 1.30 euros for a litre of diesel; here it is between 1.32 and 1.43 euros for a litre of diesel with petrol being a whopping 1.69 euros (more than the UK!) I was bracing myself for food costs to be a lot more but have been pleasantly surprised that they are slightly less than Spain.
Driving here is a terrifying experience. The accident rate is 4x higher than in the UK; the road that runs outside the campsite is about 35 miles in length and last year there were an eye watering 738 deaths on that stretch alone! Needless to say hubby and I are being very careful every time we venture out and getting out of the way of the more fool hardy manoevours that go on!
On the plus side, the Portuguese seem a very friendly bunch of people; less in your face than the Spanish. Actually they are nothing like the Spanish which surprised me as I thought they would be quite similar. They are fairer skinned, speak with a twang that is almost Eastern European and other than being raving lunatics behind the wheel seem to go about their business in a quiet and unobtrusive way. I think the next 6 months are going to be fun!!