The Algarve, via Rip-off -roads
Wednesday 13th December 2017
We were waiting for our part to arrive and ‘today was the day’ we hoped. There was no point in waiting around for it so decided to go on a “picturesque” (according to our guide book) drive along the N8 to Mafra a royal palace and Monastery started in 1717 by the King to atone for his sexual excesses. The drive was NOT picturesque as most of it was on twisty roads with no real views excepting the towns which were very industrial. Mafra was a very small town with a very large palace (The king must have been a very naughty boy!) albeit not a very well looked after one.
Plaster was peeling from the walls and all of the windows needed re painting or staining. The stonework was grubby with years of neglect and although very grandiose in stature was nothing like any French Chateau or British stately Home that we have seen. The write up in the guide book explained that nearly all of the furniture was removed and taken with the royal family when they fled to Brazil in 1807. The monastery was abandoned by its 800 monks in 1834 and the palace abandoned by yet another fleeing king in 1910. It looked semi abandoned still and did not bode well for a internal visit which the guide book said should take no longer than an hour. We decided to spend that hour wandering around the town and having a coffee and a cake. Next stop the coast and a “picturesque” drive back to Peniche along the cliff side road – it was very pretty and there is obviously a huge tourist trade all along the western Portugal coast for the surfing fraternity with gorgeous sandy beaches backed by long promenades, high rise hotels and top drawer surf schools that are found in each of the lovely coves that punctuate the rocky coast. You could spend a month trying to surf each resort and fail.
Thursday 14th December 2017
No part arrived yesterday so we rang Southdowns to see if they could check on it’s progress – They had a tracking number and we checked it out with DHL who say it will arrive before close of business today. I decided to go back to Obidos with the camera and without Molly so that I could walk the walls and grab some shots. The town was nearly empty for some reason and it looked very charming with the white and coloured edged walls under the terracotta roof tiles all surrounded by the ancient golden stone walls of the fortified town. The walk was a challenging one for someone without a head for heights and I was glad to get off the walls as soon as I had done the full circuit of the town. The path was about 3ft wide with a sheer drop on the inside steep gradients and was slippery uneven cobblestone underfoot. Despite this it was worth doing and it made an ideal medieval stronghold with its far reaching views and commanding hill top position.
At just after 6pm a DHL van came racing into the site. Elated at the thought of heating again and being able to continue on our way I ran to it to collect our parcel only to find out that the delivery was for another motorhome on the site who were also waiting for a part for their motorhome. No package for us then.
Friday 15th December 2017
We checked the DHL tracking site again and all there was a message saying that they were unable to confirm a day date or time for the delivery please try later. The Portuguese have lost the parcel haven’t they? After a few calls to Southdowns, no solution available and desperately wanting to be on our way we decided to head on south to the Algarve and our site for the rest of this year and sort our issues later perhaps trying to get the part re-directed or go find a part in the Algarve.
Ok we know it was a long drive at just under 4hours BUT €58 for the tolls for the motorhome and €25 for the car from Obidos to Albufeira felt like we had been mugged.
NEVER AGAIN will I moan about paying my road tax in the UK ( we pay £30 a year road tax for the smart car and £165 for the motorhome). The cost of one journey from Braga to the Algarve and then onto Spain for the car and motorhome using toll roads is going to be over €200! More than we pay for a years worth of road tax for both vehicles. No wonder the Portuguese motorways are empty and the towns full of cars and awful roads. We certainly will NOT be driving through Portugal again – EVER!!! Our experience of the northern half of Portugal is that the free roads are a mass of potholes loosely joined to each other with some substandard tarmac or concrete, each road hell bent on popping a tyre or smashing the suspension, let alone our possessions in the motorhome and the motorway network is run by legalised highwaymen taking you for every penny you have got. West Portugal is stunning in many places and deserves to be better served by a decent infrastructure but the roads are not up to the job of long distance touring and their “quality” really puts you off exploring more of their stunning country. Come on Portugal sort your stuff out!
Just before 5pm we reached our site for Christmas and have a nice big pitch with a south aspect. Bring on the sun. I checked DHL tracking again – still lost!
Tomorrow or Monday we will try to work out what to do about the heating and hot water issue but first … Chillax we are in the Algarve.