Yea, Another Euro Trip . . . . - Page 3 - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #31 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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With all the jostling yesterday, we took a down today and toddled around Cascais. It is growing on us since arrival. We are staying in an AirBNB in a residential/commercial area but are a 10 minute walk from the "action" - the center of the old Cascais. It is clear this is a moneyed town for the Lisbon rich and famous. Some really gorgeous seafront homes both old Victorian and modern new. Some really toity hotels. No casino but I'd expect there to be one in a place like this. And lots of good restaurants and cafes and wine bars. A nice touirsty shopping and cafe area. No graffiti, no loitering of nefarious or indigent types. A good police presence. Took off on a 5 mile walking tour ambling about with a great lunch destination Baia do Peixe with a front row table overlooking the bay and port. Did some shopping for tourist gifts. Lovely day.


Lunch detail: Euro Prix Fixe menu of 17.50pp with 3 courses: opening tappas olives/bread and butter (extra), bottle of great Evora area white wine Marques de Barbo 2017 Euro 13.80, a bisque fish soup, a big mixed salad, tomato salad, steamed potatoes and a procession of 5 different fish steaks - bass, grouper, salmon, squid and bream, and any choice of desert on the menu, and espresso coffees (extra) Euro 57.20 total. This is not unusual for a good meal like this in fact kinda cheap considering all you got here and he setting. In small towns or roadside inns you can get a plat du jour for Euro 10-12 with a 1/2L of pitcher wine for 3-5 Euro. Coverts and coffee always extra.
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post #32 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Vicarious Vacation Voyeurs lurking out there (620 hits) . . . if you like anything about this brief blog and the effort involved let me know with a comment or an occasional Like. I try to mix in travel advice, a bit on locations/logistics/life and culture, some on cars, and a bit on food (the wife is a foodie, I could eat tacos, tamales, chili, burgers and BBQ every day). And some occasional snarky but real social commentary. If you'd like more of anything, let me know. We have several hundred pics already and only a few posted. I do hope Fred and any other experienced old-car Euro travelers would add insights. Cheers and signing out. Lisbon tomorrow and packing to leave to Porto.
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post #33 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 03:50 PM
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Bruce-speaking for many of us, we've loved following your exploits and experiences and am sad (as you are) to see it coming to a conclusion. Bring us back some Cork from Portugal.

Great photos! There's a side business there having your bride convince our girlfriends and wives that a tour in a classic is way more fun than driving an appliance.

See you back in the Austin area soon
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post #34 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 11:32 PM Thread Starter
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Steve, rumors of our trip's demise are vastly exaggerated. We have two more weeks yet, leaving tomorrow for Porto for 4 nights, then visit relatives in Bordeaux, then visit a relative in Paris, then back to Belgium. We have a few good drives and 2700+km left in us.
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post #35 of 97 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Austin Alfa View Post
Bruce-speaking for many of us, we've loved following your exploits and experiences and am sad (as you are) to see it coming to a conclusion. Bring us back some Cork from Portugal.

Great photos! There's a side business there having your bride convince our girlfriends and wives that a tour in a classic is way more fun than driving an appliance.

See you back in the Austin area soon
steve
I have no Earthly idea why she tolerates some parts of these trips (the long hot rough days especially) but she is a trooper. She was in love with the country drive the other day. I can always tell when she shoots some videos.

Back in two weeks. B
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post #36 of 97 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
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Hey Vicarious Vacation Voyeurs lurking out there (620 hits) . . . if you like anything about this brief blog and the effort involved let me know with a comment or an occasional Like. I try to mix in travel advice, a bit on locations/logistics/life and culture, some on cars, and a bit on food
Bruce --

Keep it up! Elizabeth and I are benefiting in near real time from your commentary and descriptions. We had planned to visit Sintra tomorrow but changed them to take the train to Cascais based on your experience. We're driving to Porto this weekend, so I'll be reading your posts for pointers.

Safe travels.
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post #37 of 97 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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It dawns on me - some days it feels like I just fell off the turnip truck and woke up- that we've been doing trips like this for a LONG time and MANY times. Besides the recent set of 5 trips starting in 2010, linked in my signature, we've been to Y'urp over 30 times, lost count actually. And most of them were driving trips BUT not in old Alfas; that only since 2010. The first in 1973 at 3 weeks and 3rd in 1978 at 6 weeks were both by Eurailpass. Several, some 4-5, were business trips in Paris with taxis to/from the airport and all public transport, living in a furnished apartment for 3 and 6 weeks. One in Monaco on a risk study for 3 weeks (Cap d'Ail actually).

BUT the rest were driving trips and we drove all over Y'urp (usually in a Peugeot 504 Family Estate with 3-4-5 kids and even my Mom in tow once for many weeks). We had a roof rack with 4-6 bags. We looked like Okies in the Grapes of Wrath. We did picnic lunches. This every year from 1977-1984 and several since. We've been over more CH & FR Alpine and Austrian passes than I can recall. This was before internet and IF, repeat IF, you made reservations around busy times you did it by snail mail which was very slow and tedious so we did not often do it. We'd make a a mad dash for hotels around 3-5 before they filled up and pray. If a drive went slower we'd stay in a zimmer frei or gasthaus. Yipes. There was no RyanAir, just SNCF/etc. There was no Euro. Think that one through going through France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy on a trip. There were no ATM's and no cell phones or internet. There were no Autoroutes, just Rue Nationals. Relatively speaking it is a piece of cake now but with a bewildering array of options and info. AND - UNFORTUNATELY - a shitload more of tourists. And I mean a SHITLOAD. Yea, we remember when we could go to Mont St Michele and have only a few locals and French retirees in buses roaming about on a weekday. And the Chinese are just getting started with their invasion the past few years.

Why do I mention this? Not to brag. But to inform "would be's" that we've been planning and executing these Euro driving trips for a long time and learned a few things, usually the hard way. And it seems we are still learning new things as travel and accommodation change in Europe and we try various trip alternatives (hotels, to rental agencies, to VRBO and Booking.com, and now Air BNB). Driving here is different. In EVERY country we've been in they say behind every driver is an F1 racer. But the rules are different and they have traffic circles (love 'em) and now one-way chicanes entering villages in addition to speed humps, flashing lights, radar emplacements, and reduced speed limits. Traffic direction in foreign languages (to us) like Czech. My 2017 blog discusses the kamikaze driving and motorcycles, scooters and bicycles and tractors and trucks.

The point is that planning and executing these types of trips is a learned art and many things are learned over time the hard way. You can only read and absorb so much. Throw in an old car with some long hard driving and you really have a challenge. Throw in unpredictable inclement weather, especially heat with no A/C. Throw in "tourist days" that tax the feet and calves and patience (like the Sintra day still sore 2 days later). In summary, it may behoove newbies to really keep it simple the first time or two insofar as possible.

But there is one thing that has not changed in our 46 years of coming here - the lack of ice. This former rant captures that ethos perfectly and I have still not had a reply: RANT on ICE

PS: I looked back at the 2017 trip blog to find the "ice rant" link and there is some really good hard-learned advice from many folks toward the end, at and after the "ice rant" link.
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post #38 of 97 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by dmericas View Post
Bruce --

Keep it up! Elizabeth and I are benefiting in near real time from your commentary and descriptions. We had planned to visit Sintra tomorrow but changed them to take the train to Cascais based on your experience. We're driving to Porto this weekend, so I'll be reading your posts for pointers.

Safe travels.
We only know what we know re places, there may be other neat places along the coast. But Cascais was nice down at the main square waterfront area. We ate three times here in town (bad, good and great) and Baia do Peixe was very nice. They open at 12:30 and there was a line of 20 groups already. We were 2nd in line and got front row upper deck seating and quick service. It was cool and windy (and very windy today) so front row seating is not advised if it is cool and/or windy. Check the weather forecast as it is crazy windy here today and was not in Lisbon, a 15 deg difference.

We leave tomorrow AM for Porto. Hope to hit Nazare (my surfing bug), and maybe Obidos and/or Coimbra on the way. We hoped to make a day-trip to Evora but did Sintra instead. I also had a long day-trip loop north route but we scuttled that for a down day after Sintra. We are staying in an AirBNB in Poto very near the famous Luis I bridge.

We took the train (over and back) to Lisbon today. Actually got off at Belem to go to the famous Pasteis de Belem for breakfast and then wandered around there for an hour or so - very nice upscale area - then hoped the train to Lisbon. That voided our return trip and we needed another ticket. Do that before 09:30 s it gets crazy crowded. We opted to walk winding our way around and up to the fort and then back down. At the recommendation of a pharmacy owner he directed us to a "locals" back street place for lunch. The kind of street we'd not normally walk. We were the only tourists there. I think they were afraid they'd be "discovered" and ruined by a Rick Steves YouTube video expose and hordes of tourists in buses. They do not encourage interlopers but tolerated us especially after I told the cute young server to keep the beers coming and we kept it simple by ordering 2 of the plat du jour with no questions asked (she said "duck and rice" and I said "like a quack-quack duck" and she smiled, I just wanted to make sure it was not some mystery meat). It was small, hot, noisy and crowded but the beer was cold and food authentic, great and cheap. Folks waiting outside said it was the jewel of the neighborhood. The train back at about 3 PM was crammed coming west. We finally got seats halfway home. The train station is very near Cascais city centro but a 15 min walk for us on sore tired feet.

We are in Porto for 4 nights now. A day drive trip planned to the Duro river valley. Safe and happy travels. B&K

PS: we usually take the "red bus" to get oriented to a new bigger city and then pick places to hop-on/hop-off on the 2nd go around, and then afoot or metro the 2nd day for more, but Lisbon did not seem to lend itself to this approach. We've done them in London, Barcelona, Madrid & Florence. We probably should have done a tut-tut today. First visits are like this, you get some right and some not.
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post #39 of 97 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 10:49 PM
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Your comment about the numbers of Chinese tourists is very understated. We’ve encountered swarming busloads everywhere except Copenhagen and San Sebastian. Not too bad in Portugal so far. They were especially dense in Morocco where we were told the government is actively encouraging Chinese tourism and trade.
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post #40 of 97 (permalink) Old 05-02-2019, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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Your comment about the numbers of Chinese tourists is very understated. We’ve encountered swarming busloads everywhere except Copenhagen and San Sebastian. Not too bad in Portugal so far. They were especially dense in Morocco where we were told the government is actively encouraging Chinese tourism and trade.
In the "snarky but real" category:

Study up on "Belt and Road", China's initiative to help the world by ultimately owning it. They come in with big bucks and infrastructure development and then the government can't pay the debt and they have to give their asses (assets) to China in return. It is sweeping through a lot of the 3rd world. A Trojan Horse. Portugal would be wise to decline both.

As far as China's new growing upwardly mobile middle class, that is thanks to lost 1st World jobs - notably American rust belt and manufacturing jobs - having been shipped overseas to them while our folks languish on meth and opioids, and homelessness and hopelessness with a stubbornly low Labor Participation Rate. We traded jobs and worker dignity for cheap **** and $8 T in debt to them. I'd gladly trade Hawaii for that.

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I thought I was just a regular lurker, but have been "upgraded" to Vicarious Vacation Voyeur . Whatever, thanks for posting. GREAT travelogues.
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post #42 of 97 (permalink) Old 05-02-2019, 07:28 AM
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Great reading indeed, had all sorts of expressions on my face while reading, made my wife wonder what website I was on :-)
Yeah, Europe is a b***h to be on the highways, we're a brutal bunch of roadwarriors sometimes, especially in the 'compagny car' sorry for that.
Do I understand correctly that you live in Texas and have an Alfa stored in Belgium on a dutch license plate ?

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post #43 of 97 (permalink) Old 05-02-2019, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
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I thought I was just a regular lurker, but have been "upgraded" to Vicarious Vacation Voyeur <img src="https://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/images/AlfaBB_2015/smilies/tango_face_grin.png" border="0" alt="" title="Big Grin" class="inlineimg" />. Whatever, thanks for posting. GREAT travelogues.
That comes with the Gold Subscriber package. With Platinum you get more offline snarky comments
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Made it to Porto. A bit hot and horrible city traffic but really beautiful. Drive mostly on freeways was not memorable. More to follow maybe after a liter of beer. But probably not

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Do I understand correctly that you live in Texas and have an Alfa stored in Belgium on a dutch license plate ?

Frans
Glad you are enjoying it. Yes, Texas/Austin resident, car stored with a good friend in Belgium, and reg'd in NL. Used it in the 2017 trip. See other trip blogs linked in signature block. Cheers,. B

PS: for the most part European drivers are very good and well trained, and there is both a known and hidden set of conventionis and rules here that Americans slowly - or maybe don't - grasp. Normal friendly people can become absolute schizophrenic maniacs behind the wheel, their socialistic suppressed over-regulated controlled alter-ego Mad Max emerges in a car. And everyone is an F1 or rally driver in a car or on a moto or scooter in Italy. Once in Bordeaux I was struggling to make the destination even with GPS having made several rounds on one-way and blocked streets. So on the 3rd round, I slowed down to really study it. The French guy behind me went mad honking his horn. I stopped the car, turned it off, got out and went back to have a discussion about civility. In the southern US you do not behave like that, and my "red- neck" came out. In some areas you could be legally shot*. He immediately realized he had made a grave mistake as he was easily a foot shorter and 40 kg less. From an American POV he was lucky he did not get dragged through the window and stomped to beef jerkey. From a Euro POV I gather that leaning on your horn for some like a petulant 2 year-old is just fine. Viva la difference.

* only slightly SARC
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