Have car will travel – touring from Newcastle to the Algarve

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a href=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/photo.jpg”img class=”size-full wp-image-61″ title=”Have car will travel – road trip from Newcastle to the Algarve” src=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/photo.jpg” alt=”Touring – road trip from England to Algarve, Portugal” width=”478″ height=”640″ //a Touring by car gives a whole new dimension to the joy of travel

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h2Touring by car offers freedom of the road/h2
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Taking the open road to the sun can be a little bit pricey these days but the further south you go in Europe the cheaper it gets. And touring by car offers so much more freedom that maybe price comparisons with other holidays miss the point. Getting overnight accommodation in France, Spain and Portugal is so easy you can decide your stopping points as you go along – for example, will the first stop in Europe be Paris for the nightlife or Rouen for its medieval history?

To help balance the budget a bit, we have been taking a look at the sort of costs motorists will face this year if they tour in Europe.

First of all, don’t expect fuel to be much cheaper. You’ll pay over E1.70 a litre for 95 octane gasoline on roads in France and  in Portugal. Spain proved the cheapest with E1.50 a litre.

Then there are the tolls on the best routes to take. In France in particular these are becoming excessive and forcing many cars back on to the Route National which is slow going and can be badly congested in areas.

For less than an hour on the A28 from Rouen to Alencon, we were expected to pay E29.40. The circumstances were exceptional as we were diverted off it on to the RN because of a tanker crash but it still smacked of highway robbery.

If you’ve plenty of time to explore,  the RN roads can be fun, weaving their way, for instance, through the towns and villages of the Loire Valley.

If you are in a hurry to get to the  Spanish or Portuguese coast then it has to be the toll roads.

The bill for our car through France was 60 euros for tolls but it got cheaper in Spain and Portugal.
h2Electronic tolls/h2
In Portugal a href=”http://www.victoryag.org/”pokies online you/a encounter electronic tolls and, if you don’t want to risk falling foul of the authorities, you have to buy a card from a post office or service station.

You pay a refundable deposit of more than 20 euros for the card and it is advisable not to pay cash but to pay by debit or credit card.

Toll road fees are taken automatically from your card as you travel and when you hand your card in at the end of your trip you get your deposit back. Time-consuming and shrouded in controversy, but that’s the Portuguese way now.

Most things get cheaper the further south you go, particularly  the price of food and accommodation and wine.

We paid  96 euros for a room only in an Ibis hotel in Bordeaux while in Valladolid in northern Spain a Novotel room plus a meal for two and parking came to 101 euros.

In the Portuguese city of Castelo Branco an overnight stay in a Best Western hotel cost 93 euros but this included dinner for two, breakfast the following day and parking and a room with a balcony.

Getting accommodation is easy with a laptop if you travel outside of peak holidays and can be arranged the night before as you travel or even on the day.

You can often be given a room with just a shower so if you like a good soak at the end of a journey it’s worth asking if you can have a room with a bath or indicating on the web your preference.

The Channel Tunnel may be the quickest route across the English Channel but its also the most boring, twiddling your thumbs in a train carriage as it nips through the subterranean passage.

A one-way hour and a half ferry crossing with DFDS at £45 was almost half the price and probably more relaxing.

But don’t get too bogged down in the practicalities as this mode of travel gives you so much freedom to pick and choose what you want to see and do.

Our five-day trip to the Algarve gave us the opportunity to visit the historic medieval town of Rouen, the brandy lovers’ mecca of Coignac,  the sophisticated city of Bordeaux, the typical northern Spanish town of Valladolid, the historic  Portuguese city of Castelo Branco and then the Algarve where we could spend an enjoyable couple of weeks.

The trip fom Newcastle to the south coast took little over six hours and was broken up with a stay at Brighton. The route in France avoided the excitement of the Boulevard Périphérique ring road and headed via Rouen and Bordeaux to the south.
h2The bills/h2
The total fuel bill from Calais to Praia da Rocha, on the Algarve, was 280 euros.

Toll road bills in France were 60euros, in Portugal 50 and in Spain just 10. Total toll road bill was E120.

Mileage clocked from Newcastle to Praia da Rocha was 1988 miles

a href=”http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/classic/planner_main.jsp” rel=”nofollow”http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/classic/planner_main.jsp/a

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