9th August Picos de Europes to Braga in Portugal!
09.08.2012 - 09.08.2012 30 °C
Sad to go, we had a great day and it was tempting to stay on but we are rested and keen to get on. The scenery was very dramatic as the clouds were low and there was a mist all around. We even saw a huge Taurus bull appear on top of one of the mountain tops. As the mountains began to disappear the landscape flattened out and the temperature sored. Seeing signs for Madrid was pretty cool. Not this time though.
We ate as we drove and we were soon getting close to our new site. Soon we were flying over the border from Spain to France. No fireworks or red carpet just a few flags and a nicely painted bridge. As we came up to what looks like our first toll we are not sure what all the signs are saying. I can't remember reading about anything so we pass by. Passing by several signs for tolls and lots of cameras we start to think that we should of pulled over. I remember talking to the family back in Spain and the Father told me about two things too watch out for in Portugal. First ; Portuguese drivers will overtake on coming traffic and assume you will move out of their way to allow them to do so. Second; a friend of his was pulled over by the police and had to pay huge on the spot fines for not paying tolls. Ok, why that piece of info didn't come to the front of my thoughts while we were at the toll was now obviously, somewhere you pull over to set up so some kind of pre payment scheme? Crud. Well unable to change it we zoom through three more tolls. We pull over for gas and find out that the pumps here are like the US where you prepay what you think you need. Ok.
Well as we are sorting this out I notice what looks like a police car pull up. We watch several drivers go up to the guys in the car and proceed to pass cards over. Bingo! I talk to a very friendly guy who gives me a leaflet explaining that I have to log my details and vehicle and then pay for a three day pass. All done, only the next road we take has different signs and we have to take a ticket like the Spanish or French toll system. At the next toll we again have do we pull over or not to the manned booths as we have already paid. Turns out that we had to pay again. The attendant explained that the pass is for the electronic roads only and that the rest are ticket. If we hadn't pulled over and got one we would have to pay 54 euros instead of 12. Big difference. None of the handbooks I read made this clear.
Well regardless we pushed on , thought we wouldn't get to our site till nearly 6pm so at nearly 4pm we were chuffed that despite all the confusion we were nearly there. Chuffedness did not last for long.
One of life's curve balls was thrown our way. We followed sat nag as she began to lead us down increasingly narrow streets. Onto cobbles things started to get bumpy and at the next junction we decide this may be the fastest route but we will not fit down the next street with the trailer so we opt to try and go around and see if we can enter from another direction. As we follow the road round to where we think we need to be we are both pleased to see the site and instantly aware we can not access it. Built into a very steep side of the hill, it looked like a quarry site. It was completely cut off from any other road then Sat Nag wanted us to go. As we slowly crept uphill we thought we better pull over and check our choices. Now gone four we could still get to a different site by 6pm ish if we drove straight towards the coast.
As Dan pulled out to keep going he spotted that we had a flat tyre on the trailer. So with a gathering que we limped up hill slowly looking for a safe place to pull over. Tyre was changed and all sorted with very little stress. we couldn't see why it was flat but it would have to wait as time was ticking. Sat nag informed us that just round the corner was a turning point. Well you couldn't write this stuff but I can Blog it. It was only a dedicated tyre shop. We were just as surprised to see it as the man working there seemed to be to have a British family plus trailer in the middle of nowhere.
Even though this may have got us down as time was starting to get late we just found it a weird twist of fate. If we hadn't decided to save time by camping more inland we wouldn't have ended up at a site we couldn't even access and then we wouldn't of pulled over to find a flat only yards from the only tyre centre I've seen on the trip. Over 1200 miles we've driven! Someone/thing was looking out for us. Cheers.
We pulled into the Porto campsite at nearly 7pm. It's very busy with planes overhead and trains going past as well. It's like camping in Portsmouth. lol. Amazingly the site is very large with free camping. You go anywhere you like and there is plenty of room, All of the site is under the canopy of eucalyptus trees and smells refreshing. We quickly find a slot and start to position for the night. Two ladies are watching and we get the feeling they want to say something so I ask them. They are from the Netherlands and their English is good enough to explain they were keen to pitch where we are; they were waiting for their husbands to bring the motor home round. We are quite happy to move as this is only a nights kip for us. Good deed done we move on and find a great little spot. Jacket potatoes on we go off to find supplies.
Set up was quick but we are too late for the shop. Luckily the snack bar staff take pity on us and sell us some milk. They are not impressed with our Portuguese so we will have to work on that. On the way back Aeryn and I discover the toilets are the worse so far. I don't mind a little bit of roughing it but let her shorts fall to the ground and they had to be changed as they were wet through. Not nice. Glad its only one night as the showers are grim as well.
After a very late meal the kids fall asleep in seconds and Dan and I have our quiet drink outside before following them. Good night, what a long but interesting day.