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Driving in Portugal

I was driving down my “personal motorway” today  not a car in sight in front or behind me for several miles.

You could be forgiven in thinking that its the end of the world or you are part of some kind of martian people snatching invasion but no its just a new toll road the IC3.

As amazing as it is most of the toll roads here are very lightly used by Portuguese people who cant bring themselves to pay the toll just to save time (there’s that different outlook on time again)

motorway driving in portugal
My personal motorway

Further along I did see a car. I saw a man in a Mercedes reversing slowly up the hard shoulder towards me as he had gone past his junction and only had about a mile more to reverse on a motorway !
Instead of doing the sensible, safe thing and going to the next junction and turning around he must have thought that he would save some fuel money.

This kind of thing must happen often as Portuguese people generally don’t buy maps. They prefer to rely on word of mouth directions which they remember pretty well.
Failing that they are happy to stop and ask someone for directions. Then of course you can call your cousin the truck driver while on route as he is sure to know the way avoiding toll roads.

Many British people hate driving here. It could be that its because you are now  on the other side of the road or that the Portuguese drive very fast and far to close behind you. Some people may think that’s an aggressive style of driving . I don’t think it is its just bad driving.

Do you know that you are supposed to register your driving license when you come out here to stay. Your also supposed to change it to a Portuguese license as you are living in Portugal. Your new Portuguese license will not have as many vehicle categories as your UK license so if you need to drive with a trailer or have a motorbike you should take care as you may loose the wright to drive them.

The main two periods in which I take extra care on the roads are market days and Sunday afternoons around 5pm.

Market days because it can attract people out from the outlying villages who are too old to drive in very old badly maintained cars with the road sense of 50 years ago (stopping in the middle of the road for a chat, stopping on a roundabout to wave people through for instance)

Sunday afternoons because people who have had a huge Sunday lunch with friends get in the car to go home and find that its making them sleepy or they have had a little too much home made wine and brandy. Then of course there is having a conversation with the wife in the next seat while facing them and not looking at the road.
Don’t add to the statistics stay at home on Sunday afternoons.

One final comment that I hope will make you smile. I had not been living here long and I took my old battered car for its annual test (like an MOT) at the end of the test I was given the little square of paper to put in my windscreen holder. It was pink for the new calendar year or so I thought as my Portuguese wasn’t very good.
What it was in fact was an MOT fail. I was driving around for almost 6 months before a policeman told me what it was. My face was the colour of the ticket !

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