Sat 26 July 2008
Writing this at Lisbon airport, I'm just jotting down a few thoughts. We got up at 04.00 and hit the road an hour later. The drop off of the car was so smooth as was the check-in at the Easyjet counter. Somehow, you're always expecting a problem but luckily, and so far, out holiday has been sweet with all transitions being exactly as planned.
We are so sad to leave mainland Europe behind. The car behaved impeccably and Mary, the GPS, was totally invaluable. I'll never drive in unfamiliar territory without one, such is our realisation that some technological developments are genuine progress and not just a gimmick. To drive 11000 km around Europe, without hitting anything hard enough to mark the car is quite a feat. It took a fair bit of defensive driving to achieve that - being prepared to take abuse when drivers behind want you to go through a gap smaller than your car and giving way, most of the time.
Portugal is a country in transition with modern shopping malls in the towns and donkey carts in the country. It's still cheap, mostly, with a top class wine for less than 5 Euro (NZ$10), a coffee and cake for 1.55 E ($3.00). I bought a blue mackerel for tea - the sort of fish we mistakenly never eat in NZ and use it as bait. It was really delicious but a smallish fish cost over 3E (7 Euro per kilo), that's over NZ6.00 for small piece of snapper bait! It just shows what the cost of fish is worldwide. I tried some locally made black pudding and it wasn't that good. The French version was by far the best of all the countries I bought it from - 5 countries. I could simplify the food bit by saying that French food is superior to every other country. Not that the French food is totally than better NZ food as we have better veggies and way cheaper meat.
Just as we board, I'd like to leave behind the 4-5 kg of weight I've gained. Europe needs it more than me!!