A Few Notes from the Recent Trip

  • The series of roads from the Lisbon airport to the Algarve is A1 to A12 (the big new Vasco de Gama bridge) to A2 and then, in our case west on A22. Pay attention to the A12 signs when coming back because there’s only one sign among many that mentions the bridge name.
  • There are lots of good reasons to get off the A-roads, but the primary one is that they are all toll roads. All “freeways” are turnpikes in Portugal. That said, however, they are gorgeous to drive on and have very little traffic – the same cannot be said on regular roads – and on the other roads you will meet the crazy southern European (Portuguese model) drivers. In general, you will make as good or better time staying on the turnpikes until you have to get off.
  • When picking up a rental and exiting the car park, just take the tunnel which will deposit you on the hill towards the Really Big roundabout with lights and everything. To get onto the A1, don’t take the exit that looks like a freeway entrance, take the tiny one that follows (it’s marked)
  • When coming back in a rental car, you’ll need to fill the tank. Use the BP station at the exit; enter the roundabout and go all the way around as if you were going to go back onto the A1: the BP entrance is there – you can pay by credit card inside after pumping although there are some pre-pay pumps for late night filling that confuse things.
  • On exit, hang a right and re-enter the roundabout and take the entrance to the airport drop-off; instead of entering the drop-off hell, there’s a hard left and parallel road which will take you the rental car drop off. take the road that goes straight to the rental return entrance. It’s tiny, the road inside is complex, the turns are tight, but you’ll be fine.
  • Perhaps you want to drop your partner off with the luggage at the Tryp Lisbon Airport Hotel which is also on the roundabout before returning your car?
  • Depending on when you arrive there, the airport traffic can be trivial as long as airport employees aren’t leaving (arriving). Three-ish (~1500) is good, but it occurred to me that after 6 (1800) may not be bad either. Stay with your hosts a few hours longer.
  • Make sure you don’t provoke the SSSS gods. I think I did by ordering tickets and then cancelling them and ordering a second set – different airlines and a slightly different itinerary. If you do manage to invoke their wrath, just settle down: the Euros handle it all quickly and professionally; the TSA was slow to get going and a bit confused but was actually quite professional as well.
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