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Discussion Starter #81 (Edited)
Informative Q&A comment on a FB post and my answer:

Andy Cuerel: "Enjoyed reading your updates on BB Bruce Berens. We have a 7-day family vacation booked for August in France (Loire Valley) and am debating whether to take the Berlina. The mileage to and from where we are staying is 400 each way (UK and French legs combined), plus 300-400 estimated sightseeing while we are there - with a young daughter to consider we typically stay in the holiday park every other day so we're not car-bound every day. I appreciate your candour on the pros and cons of using an old Alfa - ours is certainly up to it and cruises quite comfortably at 120-130kph with its 4.3 diff, but the occasion is first and foremost a family holiday, not a road trip, so I have to decide whether using the Berlina adds to everyone's fun, not detracts from it by making it an endurance test! Food for thought anyway..."

Bruce Berens: "Andy Cuerel Thanks! We did a Euro trip after visiting daughter last year in Cambridge UK. Did 3 weeks in France in June with the two adult college-aged G-daughters. Great time. Down the Normandy coast from the Chunnel, St Malo, Quimper and then the Loire Valley/Amboise for some castles, then up to far NW FR beach area (Bray Dune) with forays into BE (Ypres). BUT we did it in the daughter's Ford Escape considering the cargo and comfort. I did not blog that trip because it was not in an Alfa. That said, my wife's father did join us in 2011 to Italy for 2 weeks in a Giulia and it was a bit cramped with 3 + luggage and provisions and the rear was on the bump stops. My daughter naively asked if the Giulia had airbags. I said yes, underway we have two hot air bags up front. Safety of your precious cargo is a consideration. The 2017 trip had a lot of driving hardships and learnings also. All 5 trip linked in ABB sig block. Good luck!!"
 

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Thank you Bruce,
.for the investment of sharing all your experiences and beautiful photos/videos with us.. Fabulous.
- Art
 

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Discussion Starter #83 (Edited)
Art, welcome! Thanks!! I get a PM every several weeks about some guy having read past blogs, wanting to do such a trip. It's on their bucket list. But they quickly get a dose of reality in chatting.

1. First, you have to have a reasonably good and reliable old car. Doing that from afar via an unknown person(s) is hard. It is still an old car and a largely unknown quantity. Not everyone is comfortable with that uncertainty.

2. The car may need mechanical work and upgrades for the trip and it needs to be outfitted with Euro safety equipment, etc.. Doing that from afar via unknown persons is hard. It is still an old car and a largely unknown quantity.

3. You need MOT, registration and insurance on the car and doing that for a tourist foreigner is hard (resident and work visas can be done).

4. You need to have the acumen to plan the trip in a far away land. This is different from an organized group bus or cruise tour where you just show up at breakfast. Navigation planning is important.

5. You just have to be open to more risk and uncertainty and hardship when things go "pear shaped", and some things will.

Did I say, "It is still an old car and a largely unknown quantity." My pit crew friend worries the whole trip while I am away. I just drink more port. And think through backup plans.

I have tried to capture some of this for folks here, together with all the wonderful, and in the 2017 blog. Hope it helps and does not discourage too may. Eyes wide open.
 

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Discussion Starter #84
Interesting stat: combined the 5 trip blogs have had over 76,000 hits.
 

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Discussion Starter #85 (Edited)
Working to bayonet the wounded now back at home. Tally: spent $680 on fuel (6100km) and frigging $640 on frigging toll toads, with most of that on the long trip up and down (2700+2000km=4700km), plus the 4 nights of hotels at say $400 is about $1500 for the luxury of having a nice old car to use on the sweet spot in Portugal. Need to do the math on Ryan air RT and renting a small car for 2 1/2 weeks locally. But that would also have knocked out visiting friends and family along the way up and down.
 

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Discussion Starter #87 (Edited)
When you put it like that, it really makes no sense...:surprise:
Yea, maybe . . .

Only for the joy of having visited enroute my friends at Italclassic in Spain and Kristy's cousins in Bordeaux and aging Aunt near Paris (all only briefly). Otherwise it was pretty much just a long boring highway drive that cost ~$1500 and took 5 days away from doing fun stuff. Thar room cost would have just been spent elsewhere but not the tolls and fuel, say $1000 less the air RT and rental car. Air travel is no fun either. It might have been a wash if I run some numbers. Five days plus is a big investmwnt in low quality windshield time. Food for thought for trip panning. That's why I mention it.
 

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Sorry, I've got to disagree. Almost yearly I've driven my AlfaSud from the Netherlands to Italy or the UK and loved each drive. Sure, there have been some issues with traffic, bad roads, less then perfect hotel rooms... but as my friend in the Netherlands always says "Its all part of the adventure". The joy of discovery on small French roads as you wind through endless vineyards and ancient castles or WW1 sites. Driving in a old car adds to the adventure. I remember a few years back my throttle cable on the Sud broke and I wound up using a long USB cable to control the carb linkage with my left hand.

I have not published the trips here on the AlfaBB as I did not know where to put them (the Sud section is quite dead) Here's the last two European trips if anyone cares to see them:

https://fredfrey.org/category/europe-2018/
https://fredfrey.org/category/2017_lake_orta/
 

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Discussion Starter #89 (Edited)
Sorry, I've got to disagree. Almost yearly I've driven my AlfaSud from the Netherlands to Italy or the UK and loved each drive. Sure, there have been some issues with traffic, bad roads, less then perfect hotel rooms... but as my friend in the Netherlands always says "Its all part of the adventure". The joy of discovery on small French roads as you wind through endless vineyards and ancient castles or WW1 sites. Driving in a old car adds to the adventure. I remember a few years back my throttle cable on the Sud broke and I wound up using a long USB cable to control the carb linkage with my left hand.

I have not published the trips here on the AlfaBB as I did not know where to put them (the Sud section is quite dead) Here's the last two European trips if anyone cares to see them:

https://fredfrey.org/category/europe-2018/
https://fredfrey.org/category/2017_lake_orta/
Fred dunno whom you are disagreeing with. IMO it just depends on the goal(s). Each travel mode has its purpose - see this LINK - at one extreme from "make good time to get someplace fast" or to "wander slowly" at 3x the time and explore. Another is medium length legs using a place as a base to explore the region. We did not have the time to turn 3 long days down and 3 long days up (= 6) into 3x6=18+/- days. We knew the hump days would be hard, just not as hard as it turned out. Lesson Learned (re-learned actually from fewer long hump legs on previous trips). Roland hits Tuscany (~1300km) in one 18 hour hump - he's a machine. Then plants and takes side trips from that base. Nothing interests him along the way. It's all good. Depends on your personal goals.

That said we have a new rule on hump days FOR US - < ~500-600km on highways. Indeed out best days have been wandering days usually from a base or occasionally a leg on a route. Save the occasional hump or day-legs, what seems to suit us best for the most part is moderate drive days with some stops to a destination for 3-5 days and exploring around by car and train, bus, boat and foot from there depending on the location. This gives you an chance to be a mini-local and get settled in and not schlep luggage in and out every day (especially where there are dozens to hundreds of stairs).
 

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Ok, got it. I guess if you don't have the time to do a proper scenic then perhaps flying in will do... and rent a fun car for while you are there.

I don't personally don't mind one night stays in tiny hotels along the way. I put hours of research to find someplace that is interesting and have a small bag take up the ridiculous European stairs. Keep in mind we always travel with our dog too, so that adds to the "adventure".



In regards to your photo problems... best way to post photos on the BB is to save them remotely and use a link to post
 

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Discussion Starter #91 (Edited)
Ok, got it. I guess if you don't have the time to do a proper scenic then perhaps flying in will do... and rent a fun car for while you are there.
It warrants review for those far-away places you just want to get to and not slowly sightsee along the way. I'd run the economics. Rented a Giulietta once for a week and it was like $600 or so. THAT can add up quickly for a longer stay when you own a car there. But then so can gas, tolls and hotels.

Indeed, usually on one night stays we only offload a day's needs into the backpack from the 26" rolling duffel and it's usually in a hotel so no need for provisions. As far as travel modes, as I said in the long blurb linked, we've done it all and "get it" - each has its purpose. On average, mid-distances and mid-length stays is our sweet spot for a stay. But interspersed with a few longer legs and longer stays, and some day-hopping. You indeed Fred are Jedi master at planning and executing these trips, navigation and documentation. Props.

I was going to do a rant on stairs but folks just have to experience it. AirBNB vaguely says, "stairs, not suitable for impaired". Well we're not too impaired . . . . yet. But. In Salema, from a parking area we had 65 stairs up (and down) several times a day, with backpacks, luggage and provision bags at the ends. Sometimes when hot, sometimes when slippery in rain. No handrails. Quirky lighting. Tried not to do it in the dark. In Porto it was 112 uneven stone winding stairs up and down from parking. And over 200 down to the waterfront area. Our place in Orta in 2017 was like this. We've been in high-up lofts with steep narrow winding shallow stairs (Le Touquet) and no bathroom, and had to navigate in dim light at night for a pee run. Ended up with a small pitcher up there in the loft. Like camping in freezing weather. ;)
 

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Building codes thrown out when it comes to stairs in the EU it seems. Some of the old French (and Dutch) places we've stayed it was not so much as the amount of steps but the lack of actual landing where your foot can be placed. Caring bags up and stepping on a 4 inch bit of step 16 inch riser is common. In the semi-darkness is even more fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #93 (Edited)
Ok VVV's, I went back and resized 21 vertical pics that were posting 90deg off. All fixed. Still dowloading Kristy's pics from backup to consolidate. May post some more when I finish that. Seems like I beat a dead horse on post mortem: plan well, have navigation, watch the trucks, don't count on ice, and beware the stairs. That's about it. Nahhhh.

And oh, bathrooms are OSHA safety hazards. Most speak to me and say, "I'm going to cripple or kill you", like a 327 Cobra. Slippery elevated narrow tubs, those tubs with a shower head wand but no curtain (WTH???) and water all over, shower stalls so small if you fall you would be a crumpled mess in the bottom and have to slither out broken, raised showers 12" off the deck and no ladder onto slippery floors. This must be some kind of population control for the elderly . . . I did some safety work for awhie (managed actually) and these are usually places we'd rope off with yellow tape until they were fixed. So anally safety conscious in some things and completely clueless in others.
 

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Discussion Starter #94 (Edited)
I do not have enough experience of Portugal to know why this is, but my observations are as follows. There is huge respect for the past and a need to preserve in Portugal.
I recalled this convo when just watching some Portugal YouTube videos to help put the trip into context and explain what we saw and felt, a Rick Steves associate travel guide, Rich Earl, says an important concept in Portugal is "saudade" which he says does not really translate into English well, but it is a "longing for something in the past, something that is gone", and some say, "it permeates much of their being and they have this almost sadness about the past (glory lost)". It is the basis for the soulful, sad and longing "fado" music. Google says, "nostalgia, yearning, longing, missing". Now, I saw a lot of happy friendly people seeming to live well in the moment. Not judgemental and highbrow. But perhaps it is there deep down, perhaps especially in the older generations.
 

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Discussion Starter #95
These people run a series of vids on the Pros and Cons of living in Portugal. Most apply to visitors as well. YouTube will autoplay one after the other if you want to binge. There are several other authors in this genre as well.

https://www.youtube.com/user/8milesfromhome
 

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Thanks for sharing you trip, Bruce.
Your descriptions of all the stuff in Portugal and about the Portuguese are really faithful.

Portugal is a great country to own and drive a classic, especially due to the weather and the scenic roads all over the country.

There is a monthly informal get together of classic enthusiasts in Sintra (Sintra Clássicos) that can get really crazy, sometimes with more than 200 cars and crowds of visitors.


Enviado do meu iPhone usando o Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #97
Like Arnold said, "I'll be back." Lovely place, lovely people. Great food and wine - fresh fish and fresh veggies galore. Need to do more of those small roads. And meet some Alfa "homies". Wife is already planning next trip but I like Tuscany also. See the other trip blogs linked in the signature block at the bottom. Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #98 (Edited)
I read articles from time-to-time about guys fearful to do a 500 mile several-day trip in a vintage Alfa. One recent article was the doing the CA Mille Miglia on FB. A few years ago I wrote in to Hemmings on some fear they had on a cross-country US trip in an Alfa Berlina. I've put over 26,000 miles, yes, miles, on "old" Alfas on 5 long-haul trips since 2010, and over 78,000 miles on old Alfas om total. Have put over 38,000 on the Pino verde 2L used in the 8000 mile 2010 EUro alone with just routine maintenance, an Alfaholics exhaust and a new clutch slave. Robust cars if you take car of them.
 

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If you're fearful of driving your 105 500 miles, you're defiantly not driving it enough. I wouldn't think twice about driving my Junior to Milano and back (well except for the salt this time of year ;) ).
 
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