Portugal ‣ Part 2. Car and oranges Jun 10, 2013

Concerning the car we rented at our hotel in Albufeira, where we were staying.

In the high season you can't expect a great choice of rental cars. So the favourite rental of our hotel failed to deliver anything sooner than in two days. But the lady at the reception was perseverant enough to persist in calling until she managed to find one at Hertz. I like Hertz, in Holland I always rented cars there, and I even have their Club Gold Card (gold-plated, I suspect). Their cars are always well maintained and with a low mileage.

In a quarter of an hour we were approached by a Portugese lady in her fourties, holding a Hertz binder. She at once started offering all kinds of insurance, which I never make use of—I've been lucky so far. Apart from that she tried to get us into buying a subscription for some magic windscreen device, which would exempt us from paying for toll roads for one and a half euros a day. Okay,— said I,— so what happens to those not carrying the magic device? The answer was vague and convoluted. In that case,— replied she,— you'll get an invoice, which you'll have to pay immediately at the post office, however you won't be able to since it's a rental car, so there will be an administration fee charged too, but it's important that you pay immediately, which you do at the post office, so it's definitely better to buy a subscription for the magic device. Okay,— said I,— so which motorways are toll roads here? In this area,— said she,— only the A22, but you can take N125 instead, for free. But once you happened to drive on A22, you'll get an invoice by mail, which… Yes, got it,— said I,— we won't need it.

This is that Italian masterpiece called Fiat Punto we were surfing Algarve with:

So what about this car? It pinched my finger twice by its door handle, and I strongly believe it's not my fault. At least that had never happened to me before.

I have mixed feelings about this Fiat. It feels hard: one needs to slam the door to close it, it'd produce a thundering click when locking the doors with the remote, the engine roars and the fan rustles. In other words, it sounds quite brutal. At the same time, the steering wheel is very light and you can spin it with a finger, and to brake you should push the pedal very tenderly. All this makes it a good car for a gentle yet brave woman.

But Hertz did well, the car was nearly new, 30,000 km on the speedometer and almost no scratches (which is quite rare in Portugal).

The oranges

You certainly noticed orange trees behind the car. If not, here they are:

For the first time in my life I saw them like that (Canarian mandarines don't count). The oranges are huge, bigger than my palm:

Here are little ones, hardly recognisable as oranges:

We found those trees somewhere northwards of Albufeira. We didn't risk to try them though.

Exactly same oranges you can buy at the roadside. 5 kg (11 lbs) of small oranges costs two euros, the same amount of big ones, like on the photo above, is three, and they are delicious! We've eaten 10 kilos in a week.

Next: Part 3. Albufeira