It is amazing how quickly a week goes when you’re on holiday. Unfortunately yesterday was our last day in Vilamoura. 7/8 days of unchanged weather. Everyday was around 18-20 degrees C, light wind, clear skies except Thursday when wind blew a little harder. As the weather was identical, we decided to have at least one walk on the beach before we started to head home. Only Chloe, Helen and I went for the walk. The beach stretches from Vilamoura to Albufeira which is about a 5km walk. We did about 2km and then turned around and walked back again. There were numerous (what looked like locals) walking on the beach as well and we also were passed by two guys on bikes with wheels about 10 cm thick – pretty impressive to ride a bike on the beach!
We had decided that rather than getting up early on Saturday am to drive up to Lisbon to catch our flight that we would rather head up on Friday afternoon. So after lunch we packed up everything, did our final checks and said goodbye to the house and headed up to Lisbon. Every time I drive that road (and I know I have said it before) but I am staggered by the quality of the road and the lack of cars. It is a 2-lane highway the whole way (and 3 lanes in many places). It is a toll road and you pay for the privilege of driving on the road (€22) but it is worth the money. The drivers are also very disciplined. Everyone is traveling at between 120-140 km/h. It seems the 120 km/h speed limit is more of a guide as most people are traveling at around 130 km/h. Michael ‘researched’ it on the internet and it seems they aren’t overly fussed by speeding in Portugal (they have 30 fixed cameras across the whole country). He also found that over special holidays (eg. Easter, Christmas etc) they give a lot of leeway between the actual speed limit and what they will pull you over for.
I was driving with my speed limiter on (Dad you’ll be proud of me) and in 2 hours of driving I only had to slow down once. The rest of the time we just drove at the limit and pulled out to pass cars and pulled back when we weren’t. It is 2.5 hour trip and very easy to do. The disciplined driving makes it a much more pleasurable trip. If only SA drivers could drive like they do in Portugal.
The biggest issue we had was that we had to re-fill the cars before dropping them off at the airport. We pulled into the petrol station and could not figure out how to get the pump to start. They even made an announcement on the speaker about us (in Portuguese but I recognized the number of the lane we were in). It didn’t help because we still didn’t know how to get it working. Eventually after pushing buttons/inserting credit card we got the fuel working and managed to fill up both the cars (though what we did on the pump for each of the cars ended up being different).
We then headed to the hotel (airport hotel which we have stayed in previously) to drop off our luggage in the rooms and then to take the cars back to the airport rental company. We agreed that dinner would simply be in the hotel restaurant and after a good nights rest we headed back to the airport for our long trip home. We had an 11am flight from Lisbon to Heathrow arriving at about 2pm and then our flight back to Cape Town is at 9:30pm. We are now sitting in the lounge at Heathrow killing time until our flight tonight.
It was a great 8 days and we all enjoyed the break. Every time we are in Portugal we realise how much enjoy the country and the place and how relaxing we find it. It really is becoming a home away from home for us.
Until next time … P, H (who is off shopping in the terminal right now), S (who missed his girlfriend’s 21st on this trip), M, C