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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In an old Alfa again!! The same car we took in 2017 through Italy, Switzerland and France. Spent 5 days of the last week in the UK visiting a daughter and a then few in Belgum visiting Roland. All packed, prepped and ready to depart in the oldtimer Giulia tomorrow AM. The drive down and back up will be long, hard and unmemorable on Autroute with some stops to visit frierds and family both ways, The real attraction is nearly 3 weeks in Portugal in Salema in the Algarve, Cascais near Lisbon, and Porto, with some day side driving trips planned. Will post anything of Alfa interest and maybe some of Portugal. See you later. This was the last supper here.

PS: this and the 4 other touring trips blogs are linked in my signature at the bottom.
 

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Great photos, looks a fabulous car!

Try these Museums, especially the Caramulo museum which is in central Portugal. You can visit before or after Porto, or as a day trip. Also think there is a car collection near Sintra, certainly, there is one in Lisbon.

If you go near Malaga on your way into Portugal, the car museum there is very good. Some nice 30s exotica particularly.

https://www.museu-caramulo.net/en
https://portugalconfidential.com/miniature-automobile-museum-museu-da-miniatura-automovel-gouveia/

But of course, plenty of good food and nice places en route. And the Portuguese are real car fans......
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks Martin. Will investigate. Just arrived in Salema, Portugal from visiting Alfa friends in El Campello. We did 7 weeks in Spain (among other places over 10 weeks) in an old Affa in 2010. And hit Alicante again in 2011 to pick up and use a different car on a 7 1/2 week trip. All trip blogs linked in sig block. B
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Arrived last night and awoke late this AM to this. More updates to follow after we explore some. Looks quiet and peaceful before the main tourist season. Look up Salema on YouTube. A week here to unwind now .
 

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Great picture of your last supper!
How is it that the men look older and the ladies look younger ? LOL!
Have a fun trip!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
So it was mostly a veg day here Monday after 3 x 12 hour driving days humping down freeways from Lommel BE to Salema Portugal (Autoroutes and Autovias) to get here with one rest day in the middle. Only hit bad traffic at Lyon during rush hour and it added an hour. A too short a visit with good Alfa friends in El Campello Spain with Italclassic, Ben and John and families.

But the three hard driving days totaled 2900km (1032, 949, 951) of boring and hard highway driving in a noisy generally rough small light car. I'm not being romantic here. We had a lot of bad wind from the border in France all the way to El Campello that blew us all over the road when the trucks weren't; purposeful driving all the time. Darting in and out passing trucks and being overtaken fast by the big Peugeots, VW's, Mercs and BMW's. We had two hours of very heavy rain from a tropical cyclone in the Mediterranean (a "borassca") with African moisture, from Valencia to El Campello and a literal tropical storm with very high winds and a torrential rain after we got in. Glad that was not 6 hours earlier while we were on the road. And it rained torrentially much of the next day. And rained off an on almost all the way to Portugal the following day. A rare every 4 year event according to John.

Memo to file: these are NOT modern quiet smooth cars. They are just not suitable for long-haul freeway driving (especially in hot weather which gratefully we did not have this time so far, but did in 2017). They are great for shorter day trip touring on smaller country roads, the "national" and "departmental" roads. We have a New Rule 1 here: not over 500km of highway driving in an old car. And since the smaller roads are MUCH slower driving probably not over a few hundred km a day on smaller roads especially with lots of photo-op and exploring stops. We learned that lesson in 2017 worming down the French and Italian coast.

Also consider that we did 9 fill-ups at over $6 per gallon (averaging about Euro 1.70 / liter) to go 2900 km and averaging 11.0 km/liter at a cost for fuel alone of Euro 450 PLUS tolls at about Euro 150 or more. It just does not make physical or financial sense to go long hauls driving here especially in old cars unless you have a real purpose for the car at the other end* or you like to burn money. Ryan Air is your friend and rent a Fiesta locally. Driving an old car sounds romantic but do the math. More later. B

* we do have many day trips planned during the ~3 weeks in Portugal but perhaps not enough to justify the long-haul trip.

PS1: screen capture of route form BE to Nimes, then next day to El Campello near Alicante.

PS2: that big green blob was the leading edge of a big tropical cyclone that raked south and eastern Spain and slowly rotated east and is now up in northern Italy, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Some driving obserevatons:

1. Trucks come over when they want to. They signal and come over. No matter what. Be cautious in passing and have an out. And they are legion on the roads nowadays. I thought there were trains here for cargo. This is like in the US but far worse. Daughter lives in UK and she says it's the same there.

2. Trucks can take 10 km to pass other trucks on 2 or 3 lane highways. You can be overtaking in the fast lane after they have followed other trucks for 300 km and they have an urge to come over and pass at the last minute (see Rule #1 above). And it can take forever. This is similar to the US.

3. After passing you in the fast lane cars come over in front of you, no matter what is behind them, with 1-2 car lengths. Even on a 3 lane highway frequently. This is not a huge problem when dry but when raining they put up a blinding spray forcing you to slow down to get some space so you can see. Very unsafe. They are OCD about not occupying the fast lane even though traffic may be 10 km back and they will come over and blind you. Strange habit. If I have a big Merc or BMW I did not see driving up my ***, I will still give a car being passed some room before coming over if raining even after being flashed 30 times. It is even worse in France but bad in Spain too.

4. Unique to us driving an oldtimer. Cars come up in the faster lane and then slow and hover in your blind spot to oogle and take pics. No problem except when they do that for a km and you hit slower traffic like a 90kph truck and need to come over to pass with them in the blind spot hovering. Funny not. Of cars that pass us, it seems about 40% are clueless (it could be a donkey cart), 40% are interested and hover and/or rubber neck, and 20% get very excited and honk and/or give thumbs up and their heads swivel around 360 deg. It feels like it's a traveling circus.

Roadhouse inn food in Spain. Usually good and usually cheap. Baby lamb chops. Yum.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Of course the purpose of driving 2900 km was to pick up a car and drive to a quaint place and do some day tours. Salema is that. A small old fishing village being urbanized and gentrified now. It's just been found thanks to Rick Steve's YouTube video. The old village is down below and the new "etranger" (foreigner) enclave of condos is up above on a hill. The old village is just starting to get gentrified and in fact is pretty run down and authentic. It is quiet and peaceful now. But 80% of the hillside condos are empty now so when they fill in the vacation season this place could be hectic. It is still no Costa del Sol Spain or Cancun though. There are a lot of good fish restaurants and we've been dedicated to that study for two days now. They also love their fresh vegetables here. Good basic food like you make at home. Were going to take a scenic drive tomorrow but with 70% rain may defer. We had a stormy cold front come though last night with thunder and intermittent rain today and 50F/10C. Chilly beach weather.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
And some more.
 

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Really excellent trip and great info - please keep sharing. So maybe save the Alfa for only driving within Italy? This type of trip is on my dream list, but your feedback is giving me 2nd thoughts.
 

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3000kms in 3 days, plus bad weather is extreme sport in a 60s car, no matter how noble. Most historic rallies only do half that per day....

An idea could be to transport the car from Belgium to Italclassic and fly in to Alicante. The transport would be about 800€ but saves your 600€ on fuel/tolls plus hotels/food/wear and tear, so might be an alternative strategy.

For those who want the experience but not the commitment, there are different classic rental agencies all over Europe. As per this article on one based near Madrid, which has a Duetto and a Spider on its books.

https://www.escuderia.com/classic-car-rental-spain-sts-pagoda/
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Really excellent trip and great info - please keep sharing. So maybe save the Alfa for only driving within Italy? This type of trip is on my dream list, but your feedback is giving me 2nd thoughts.
3000kms in 3 days, plus bad weather is extreme sport in a 60s car, no matter how noble. Most historic rallies only do half that per day....

An idea could be to transport the car from Belgium to Italclassic and fly in to Alicante. The transport would be about 800€ but saves your 600€ on fuel/tolls plus hotels/food/wear and tear, so might be an alternative strategy.

For those who want the experience but not the commitment, there are different classic rental agencies all over Europe. As per this article on one based near Madrid, which has a Duetto and a Spider on its books.

https://www.escuderia.com/classic-car-rental-spain-sts-pagoda/
Great ideas all, especially the ship south one. Costs about the same when you factor it all in and the time is a fraction. We are no strangers to touring in an old Alfa. This is the 4th long Euro trip and one in the US. All blogs are linked in signature block. Plus last year but in daughter's Ford Escape in France with the two older grand daughters (not blogged here since not in an Alfa).

1. We have done all kinds of driving legs in all kinds of conditions in these trips. Long days with few stops are the worst. And 500km on a highway is doable (@ 6-8 hours) but not on a smaller road with cities, villages, construction, bikes, tractors and traffic. Also a decent planed drive can go wrong with national holiday and bank holiday traffic or road diversions or bad accidents. We learned that lesson in 2017 city-hoping day-by-day down the French and Italian Riveria. Our challenge is that our car is stored in N Belgium and a lot of what we want to see is in the south. So we pay the piper.

2. Our first trip with the rose-colored spectacles in 2010 was now 9 yeas ago. We are a little wiser and a little more "mature" in body. That stamina and tolerance has an effect. So does your partner. Most partners would not put up with what my sweet wife does in these trips. You may end up single by the end of the trip if not the 2nd day.

3. Heat is a real factor. In 2017 it was bad, a European heat wave that cooked us to a crisp day, night and driving. So now earlier in April we hit torrential rain and strange borasca storms.

4. These are old cars. No one does a 100 % resto and takes off with a new car. Stuff on old cars rattles loose and fails; even with a new engine in this car there is other stuff. We have some annoying vibs above 110kph, the parking brake hung up the other day and would not release so we were stuck and it still seems balky, and a hinge pivot failed and the trunk lid flops around when open now (had to remove the spring to get it to close, using a coathanger). In 2010 we had a cranky solenoid and a length of broomstick and a rock coaxed that back to life on occasion. Also discovered a rear wheel bearing going out that caused subtle rear vibs above 130kph. THIS is ALWAYS in the back of your head. What is my backup plan. We are in a pretty isolated place here in the Algarve in Salema. Comms is always an issue in dealing with old cars in a foreign land garages. We had a old car in the garage for a week in 2011 for vibs and had to get a rental (a Giulietta of course) and then return to swap out the car from Bergamo to Florence and back. We got towed in Spain once for illegal parking (with a lot of others) while in a church. Came out and no car. Panic. The show goes on. Be prepared for an adventure.

If you are interested in this type of trip, read the many travel blogs. Too often folks gloss over the issues. You have to be open to hardships and change, and a bit of worry. Not trying to be a buzzkill, we've been really fortunate with no real mishap. But it's not a piece of cake. The good times are amazingly good but do you really need to drive an old Alfa in unfamiliar territory? Or do those tours back home.

Posted with signature block again for links. Off for an exploration drive to Sagres and Lagos now. The coffee and breakfast has kicked in.
 

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You certainly know what you are doing and give very good advice. Driving a classic around Europe is a great way to see the place and allows you to interact with all kinds of folk who you wouldn´t meet in a rented Focus, but is not always plain sailing.

"These are old cars. No one does a 100 % resto and takes off with a new car. Stuff on old cars rattles loose and fails even with a new engine in this car there is other stuff."

I had to do this last July, not a 100% restoration but engine and gearbox out plus plus repair to a Fulvia 1.6 HF (whisper it....). It was delivered out of the workshop in Valencia at 12.00 on Saturday (shuld´ve been Thursday....) and had to be on the ferry to UK from Santander the next day at 16.00.......about 1000kms. Temperatures were a steady 45C and the seats black vinyl. I got there with a couple of minor issues, but couldn´t relax into the journey at all.

Car rewarded me by blowing a piston at the very most northern part of my trip, Lake Windermere. Buy Alfas, friends
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
You certainly know what you are doing and give very good advice. Driving a classic around Europe is a great way to see the place and allows you to interact with all kinds of folk who you wouldn´t meet in a rented Focus, but is not always plain sailing.
This is kind but we feel like a pinball in a pinball machine much of the time. Trying to sort the Portugese highway toll card out now (not the transponder thingie). I much prefer Switzerland's blanket freeway pass. You actually have to set up an account via their antiquated PTT system on-line and activate it with with hidden codes and secret handshakes. And add money if you go over your account. All in Portugese. They do not make it very tourist-friendly.
 

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On the bright side; the food looks to be good...:laugh:

On a serious note; highway driving in a classic is not the most fun thing to do, let alone in torrential rain.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Looking back on 2017 trip and driving through southern Tuscany from 4 day base in Sienna including the Val d'Orcia. A perfect old-Alfa driving day.. There are many of these, just not those long haul days to get there. Eyes on the prize. This is what today and the next 2 1/2 weeks are about. Fun shorter exploring drives interspersed with visiting bigger cities. Just wanted to inject some reality also on the hard stuff.

https://goo.gl/photos/v79JXYRcp3QUbBBg8
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Day drive trips east to Lagos and its breathtaking yellow and orange cliffs with azure waters, and west to the Sagres area. Sagres is the 2nd furthest west point in continental Europe. One of their two national beers is named after this area. Lots of traffic circles inserted into roads as the exurbs have expanded. I like them versus traffic lights or unsafe intersections but they do slow the drive.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Sagres, and lunch back in the village. Sagres has an old and new maritime school going back to Henry the Navigator. Sagres is a thin peninsula jutting out and receves the full force of the Atlantic northern swells on one side and is relatively calmer on the other southern side like the southern facing beaches of southern Portugal at Lagos. Weather has been coolish 50's night and 60's day and quite windy at Sagres today after the front came through.
 

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