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  • Cecilia Clark

Lisbon-Algarve, October 28 - 29, 2023

Updated: Mar 2

It was an easy 2-1/2 hour flight from Terceira to Lisbon. Lisbon is one hour later than Terceira so we lost some daylight for the drive south to Albufeira in the Algarve.

However, first we needed to pickup our rental car at Europcar. Although we reserved and paid for our chosen car size (compact, standard transmission, GPS) in advance with the help of American Express Travel company, it took quite a long time to leave Europcar with the rental car. At the airport Europcar counter, we showed the desk person our California Driver's licenses and our International Driver's licenses purchased at $20 a pop at the local AAA office. He scoffed at the International Driver's licenses. Perhaps because he then thought we were gullible he then tried to up sell us to a different car, larger and with automatic transmission, because we would be more comfortable. He also said that car would come with the built in Navigation system. He said if we weren't happy with the size of the vehicle, we could change. So, we signed for the larger car (a Jeep SUV), with built-in Navigation, and use of the automatic toll tag (2€ per day). He told us to put in "95" gasoline when we refilled the tank. In the Europcar garage, after seeing how large the Jeep SUV was, we asked to change to the compact choices. We were told that "compact" is just slightly smaller than a Jeep SUV. In fact, there were no compact vehicles available so not sure how large they are. We were about to relent when we found that the Jeep SUV did not have a built in Navigation system - a deal breaker. Then a newly returned Peugeot was parked next to us. It was as long as the SUV, but certainly not has huge otherwise and it had a built in Navigation system. We took it and finally left the airport at dusk.

The GPS routed us over the Vasco da Gama bridge just as the full moon was rising in front of us. The bridge is the second longest in Europe and the longest in the EU. It is 12.345 km/7.671 miles in length. It spans the Tagus River and connects north Portugal to the south. It was a beautiful sight and we were finally on our way south thanks to the GPS.

The Algarve is from where 15th century Portuguese explorers set off on their voyages of discovery. The Algarve formerly home to small fishing villages is now packed with hotels, restaurants, and bars. Albufeira was at the end of the A2 toll highway and I wanted to wake to a view of the ocean. We got to Albufeira about 9 ish and it was dark. The resort area was packed with cars, hotels, condos, bars, party makers even at the end of October.

But, we did have a view of the ocean from our room at 3HB Golden Beach. The next morning it was glorious to watch the light change and enjoy the sound of sea birds. Not many people were up at sunrise and there was no where to get coffee until about 9 am. The 3HB Golden Beach is normally a long-term rental with a kitchen so most people would make their own coffee.

We took a short walk on the beach. There were more rocks than people on the beach.

We checked out and drove a few miles to Al-Gharb Coffee Roasters for the best cappuccino I have ever had. Breakfast was great, too. Rested and refreshed we drove east toward Spain. We exited the A22 to head south to have a last look at an Algarve beach. We stumbled upon Praia de Alagoa (Alagoa Beach) in the small township of Altura. A boardwalk takes you from the free parking to the beach past two restaurants. The beach was fine, white sand and just about the only creatures on the beach were gulls.

Just before crossing into Spain, we visited IKEA to buy a type "C" connector for my phone to connect to the car. I had forgotten that the EU required Apple and other phone manufacturers to make USB-C the universal charging cable for phones in the European Union starting in 2024. Rental cars have already complied.

Next stop Sevilla, Spain.


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