Chelsea tractors need not apply

For our short drive from Costa Nova down to Figueira Da Foz we decided to hug the coast on the the smallest roads our crappy map showed. This is a family tradition of heading down inappropriate roads or perhaps more accurately, using inappropriate vehicles to head down tracks that would make a Unimog cry.

Back to crappy maps. We have been on the hunt for a really decent road atlas of Portugal. Every book shop, filling station and motor accessory store we’ve been into only have massive fold-out maps with a scale of 1:600,000. Well that’s fine if you have a large table to spread the map out and all you want to do is carpet-bomb the entire country. We need a bit more detail. After many a failed map shop, I pondered whether the Portuguese are all lost or they all know every square millimetre of their country. After a discussion with two of the auto electrician’s staff back in Aveiro to check which was the best road to take on foot to head back into town, I can confirm the Portuguese are the former. The discussion started by the three of us holding the tourist map of the area and staff pointing to random parts of the outskirts of Aveiro in the vain hope of locating us. The discussion finished when I drew a roundabout and a box to show exactly where we were. All too hard until I was saved by the PA who did actually know where she worked and told me the best road to walk beside to avoid death by crazy driver.

Oh no, another tangent. Crazy drivers and being a pedestrian. In the first two days of driving on non-motorway type roads we saw four or five ambulances zooming by, lights and sirens ablast. I’ve watched cars cut across me from one side of a roundabout to the other indicating the wrong way, mad overtaking moves where there isn’t enough time for a car to make it past the slow-moving black-smoke-belching truck without me having to jink into the hard shoulder to avoid a head-on, yet there are quite old ladies walking on the side of the road with their shopping. How have they lived for so long? After walking around the streets, we have have discovered the safest way to handle Portugal’s roads is actually on foot! Just pause near a pedestrian crossing, or even better place a confident foot into the road and huge trucks, coaches full of people and fast moving cars will come to an abrupt stop and wait for you to cross without a single hint of annoyance. Even on a dual carriageway with a pedestrian crossing on the exit, where I thought we would have had no chance of getting across alive or at least without some type of disfigurement, an entire city of commuters rushing home, ground to a halt for a moment to let us cross. Impressive valuing of human life and adherence to a law in what seems like a part of Portugal where anarchy rules.

The night before heading further south. Costa Nova aire with dunes and the crashing Atlantic off to the left. Parked next to Gary & Sharron from New Zulnd and Heinz & Dagmar from Germany, ja.

Where was I? Oh yes, rather than spend one hour down a boring A road, we decided to take four hours popping into all the little coastal resorts and heading down some lesser travelled roads. Well Hans was feeling better so why not test the suspension! It was all low-lying land with some areas growing crops right up to the edge of the dunes. The entire coast seems to have spectacular beaches backed by soft white sand dunes. Other areas we drove through featured pine plantations and more sand dunes! It is in this area we had the most fun. When I say plantation, most of it looked a bit random, not obviously planted in rows and to add a bit of an Aussie feel to it, there were Wattle trees trying to get a foothold in the gaps between pines. There was a 10km stretch where we didn’t dare get above 20km/h for fear of shaking Hans to bits or falling into a huge crater, never to be seen again. It was brilliant fun picking my way through pot-holes in a 6-wheeler whilst avoiding the soft sand either side of the road. I felt particularly smug knowing that a road like this would never have and never will see a plonker in his shiny Chelsea Tractor 4×4 for fear of a spec of dirt defiling its bling.

There is some tarmac out there somewhere.



OK the road wasn’t so good but what about the beach, is the sand firm and flat with a suitable tidal range?

Well Basil, you can report to your Dad that the beaches would be suitable for a Class 3 land yacht fitted with big fat tyres and you could sail for endless miles at very high speed. Problem is you couldn’t turn!

would that be around or over

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