Article by Victoria Riabenko
I can describe this story like this: “It could happen but not with me. Moreover, it looks like movie plot”.
The storyline is very simple – 2 Canadian girls, 2 girls from Turkey and I (Russian) decided to rent a car and visit the nearest city from Porto. We had an incredible plan: to visit Aveiro, Nazare (the best place for surfing), and Douro valley. The Douro Wine Region Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.
Easy right? Get up at 8:00 AM, meet in the kitchen and out-of-home at 9:00 AM. When the clock struck 9:15 AM, we realized that two of us slept away. Then we realized that nobody booked a car. 30 minutes later we found out that the deposit for renting a car is 700-1000 euros. So, nobody had much money on the credit card. It was a pity! We didn’t want to stay at home; therefore we decided to go by train.
We went to the tourist office in front of the station and found out that we could rent a car without a deposit. Of course, it was a little bit expensive … but in general, it was more convenient than going by train. We paid, waited for the car and at 12:00 AM we were ready to start our trip.
But the beginning of the trip(starting in the parking space) was so confusing. Carol could not get the car out of the parking place. Was it funny? From the first step, the trip was going wrong. The owner of the car helped us and we were on our way to Aveiro.
After several unnecessary turns, making a couple of extra circles, finally we left the city. With the music loud, the speed strong, we were enjoying the highway ride. Everything was OK. And we kept on going ahead without anything to worry about. And suddenly into 2 meters we saw the turnpike. Carol pressed on the brakes, but it was too late. We crashed into the turnpike and flied off the highway. Let me remind you, the car was rented, and in case of an accident we had to pay 1000 euros. All of us were shocked. We left the car and began to inspect it. It seemed that there was no damage, except for a print on the windshield, which was safely wiped off through damp napkins.
We went to see what happened with the turnpike. We unfolded it; waited for the car … it seemed to work without changes. But we wondered what we had to do. In any case, the cameras recorded the accident, and if Carol got a fine in Portugal… it would be a bad travel souvenir. Our Portuguese friends gave us the number of the road inspector. We called, tried to explain the problem and in about 30 minutes he arrived. A cheerful man who did not speak English and understood a little French, explained to us that for him “Nao problema”, “No problema para mi!”
Well, we didn’t have problems too! The inspector signed the act, said that everything will be ok and next time we have to choose the green road without turnpike. That was when one of us noticed that someone was sitting in the cabin by the road, and he saw our accident, he did not even come out. Portuguese pofigizm!
Carol was under stress, she didn’t want to drive again. But there was nobody to replace her, so we decided to go to the nearest café and eat something. The trip seemed to be a failure. After lunch the situation seemed more funny than tragic. We sat, laughed and ate our French fries. An hour later we decided to get to Aveiro. It was almost 3:00 PM. Let me remind you, we got up at 8:00 AM and still hadn’t got to our destination!
Aveiro is a small town on the river near Porto. The Portuguese call it “the local Venice”. It is a beautiful place! We fell in love with the yellow-blue city. These colors are everywhere: at home, underground passages, in the signs – city of endless holiday. The colourful Moliceiros give a comical nod to the traditional Aveiro way of life.
What is the plan for 5 girls in the new city? Go to the wedding salon and pretend to buy wedding dresses, eat local sweets (it was disgusting) and ice-cream (slightly better), find a yellow house and take photos during the hour, explore the local products in the store about 30 minutes. In addition, Aveiro is known in Portugal for its traditional sweets, Ovos Moles de Aveiro (made of egg yolks and sugar), trouxas de ovos, both made from eggs. Raivas are also a typical biscuit of Aveiro. As I said we didn’t like it.
After Aveiro, we went to Costa Nova, which is famous for its striped houses and a delightful beach. We took the car from a paid underground parking to go there. Costa Nova is just the perfect place for a holiday! Striped houses made our heads spin! Where is the person who created this marketing move?! It’s brilliant and simple. It makes an ordinary village to a tourist place. Now in my wish list I added one point – buy one of these striped houses.
The beach itself is an open stretch of pristine shoreline sandwiched between undulating sand dunes and the clear, crashing waves of the Atlantic making it an idyllic location to spend a few hours relaxing. There is a wonderful wooden pathway to walk along the beach and admire the vista.
Around 9:00 PM we returned to Aveiro to have a dinner in a sea food restaurant. We left the car in the same parking, so it’s easier and safer. The dinner was a little bit expensive but very tasty. We had a Russian waiter who tried to speak with all of us in Russian, but unfortunately, I was the only one who could support the conversation. We received our bill with two zeros and happily went to the car. The local time was 11:00 PM.
But the surprise of the day was waiting for us. As we approached the parking, we saw a closed gate and the only car inside was ours!
Parking was open only until 10:00 PM!!!!
It was an epic fail. We started to call all the possible numbers, but of course, nobody answered. There was a suggestion to hack the parking, maybe then an alarm would work, someone would come and we could pick up our car. Nonsense! There was only one option: return by train, and in the morning come for the car. We began to look at the train schedule and realized that the last train leaves in 10 minutes. But we had no idea how far we were from the station and where this station was located. We decided to have the best run we’ve ever had in our lives. We found out that the station was about 15 minutes by walking and we had a minimal chance to take a train.
On the way, we tried to catch a taxi but without success. Then we saw a stopped car at a traffic light and without an option for the driver to refuse us, we all got in the car, where there already were 3 guys. Do not even ask how we did it! Magic! 2 minutes before the departure of the train we took it without tickets. Fortunately, we could buy them from a conductor!
1.5 hours on the road going back to Porto completely exhausted and tired, we decided that this crazy day must be finished on the embankment with cocktails. We will remember this day for a long time. Because it can happen only in a movie!