It is a city that has a long history, but that does not even live in the shadow of the past. Incidentally, it is to be such a space facing the current times, with so many attractions, that Braga is another excellent reason to rent a motorhome in Portugal. After all, in Braga, we can always find a cross of churches with modern shops and a cross of traditional commerce with bars that stand out for being very cosmopolitan.
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Baptized by the Romans as «Bracara Augusta», the city of Braga is an important religious center, gathering a lot of churches. You can believe us: just in the historical center alone, there are 25 churches, a proof that Braga hosted the Portuguese episcopate. The Cathedral of Santa Maria de Braga is the major symbol. Built in 1089, it is a mix of architectural styles from Romanesque to Baroque, through the Gothic. Inside, stands a double organ and to hear it play is enough to creep you out.
After renting a motorhome in Portugal, it´s a good idea to try visiting the Theatro Circo de Braga. This space is situated on the main Braga avenue, the Avenida da Liberdade, which marks what was once the medieval city. The Theatro Circo has over 100 years of history, details of which are revealed in the course of guided tours of the inside. In this cultural point, you can attend concerts, plays and movies.
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. Roman ruins – there is little to admire of the Bracara Augusta, which has origin from times of Roman presence in the Iberian Peninsula. However, there are two areas which document the importance of Braga at the time: Termas do Alto da Cividade and Fonte do Ídolo.
. Gastronomy – the sweet tooth tourists will not resist the gastronomic treasures of Braga. So that you work up an appetite, get to know that the city”s restaurants which usually serve duck rice Braga style, cooked rice in water in which they cook the duck and take the duck in the oven with chorizo slices and ham strips. For dessert, it is best to opt for an Abade Priscos pudding, scallops, king cake, the fidalguinhos of Braga…mmmmm!
. Bars – the historic center can be populated by churches but there is no shortage of bars, because in this city, the sacred and the profane have always gone hand in hand. A good example is the Convento do Carmo, that, as the name suggests was once house of a religious order. But there is more to discover, such as the Gin Lovers, the Lattino Caffé Caffé, the Air Rooftop Terrace, the Insólito and the Estúdio 22, just to name a few…
Wild Side Campers enables a motorhome in Portugal to visit Braga, among many other regions
There is one more good reason to hire a campervan in Portugal: Óbidos. We can point out various attractions happening at this place: from the International Festival of Chocolate to natural landscapes (as the Óbidos Lagoon or the several beaches). However, last May, Óbidos drew attention … for its walls!
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According to Architectural Digest, a prestigious American magazine, «some of the world´s most beautiful buildings are hard to find. In the past, city walls helped protect the medieval population from invaders, and now currently hold a valuable collection of treasures and masterpieces of architecture».
When choosing his 11 unmissable walled regions, Alex Schechter included the Óbidos village, accompanied by other spaces, such as Dubrovnik, in Croatia, the Spanish municipality Avila, in Spain, and the citadel «fairy-tale» Carcassone, in France. Specifically about Obidos, besides its walls, Alex emphasizes the «washed houses in the middle of rough cobblestone streets» and even restaurants that serve «traditional octopus salad and ginjinha, which is an amazing Portuguese liqueur».
«The heart of this historic village is its XII century castle, converted into a medieval-inspired boutique hotel in the 1950s. Óbidos is particularly nice in the summer, when the wisteria and the geraniums bloom, which forms the perfect backdrop for the old architecture», added the author.
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The town of Obidos is a true national tourist attraction, much sought after at the end of the year (which turns into Christmas Village) and during the International Chocolate Festival, which this year received the 13th edition and involves show cooking and performances of music and theater. Each of these reasons has attracted many tourists who take advantage of their stay in Portugal to make hire a campervan and get to know the town of Óbidos.
Wild Side Campers offers a campervan hire service to discover Óbidos, among many other sights of Portugal
Better than just renting motorhomes and discovering Portugal with maximum comfort, is to have the opportunity to travel without spending a lot. Simply follow the best advice. For example, it´s advisable to not create debt. Therefore, you should not travel, if it takes you into debt. Best to save and then travel. By the way, always pay before the trip and try to pay as little as possible by credit card.
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On the other hand, «planning» should be the keyword for your traveling. Therefore, search well enough to know all the routes that lead to the desired destination to choose one path that allows you to save more gasoline, for example.
A guide is always a good counselor. According to the professional traveler Gonçalo Cadilhe, which has toured numerous countries in more than 20 years, these books are especially advisable for tourists who prefer to travel independently and create their own route. Moreover, guides are ideal for indicating the most economical options in each destination. The best options are Lonely Planet and Routard, which help us to create routes and find the places we want to visit.
Obviously, the choice of travel through motorhomes is already quite economic. After all, it saves up on night”s accommodation.
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. Walk far – when visiting a place, leave the motorhome to rest and try to walk a lot: this way, it saves gasoline and you´ll encounter each location even better. A good way to discover the city is to follow a «walking tour», if the regions make this service available. The guides take tourists to the most interesting places and tell stories that do not appear in travel guides. Generally, there is no obligation to pay, and you are only asked for a small tip at the end.
. Travel in low season – scratch off in your calendar: July, August, Easter and Christmas, the so-called high season. Try to travel only during the rest of the year to get cheaper prices on the cost of meals, amongst other examples.
. Search «freebees» – never forget the documentation that will get you into free museums, including the student cards.
. Save on calls – for example, try to have a Blackberry with unlocked SIM cards of all places that you will travel to for a while. Buy yourself one for 10 euros to 10 euros credit, it is practically free.
. Travel in company – while traveling, try to make friends continuously. First of all, it is enriching and, on the other hand, you can share food costs, for example.
Besides being economical, never cease to be practical. How about always carry pen and paper to go making a sketch pad and explain some stuff with symbols when there is no common language ?
Traveling without spending much money. The first step is to rent motorhomes in Portugal with the Wild Side Campers.
To the question “why do I want to rent a motorhome in Portugal“, there isn”t just one answer, but five. Well, there may be more than ten, if we think really hard about it, but here are five to make you really love this country.
Yes, there are more reasons than these, but we are sure these five are more than enough to convince you that having a motorhome in Portugal is the best way to fully enjoy what the country has to offer and never find yourself longing for freedom of movement. You won”t have to worry about train or bus schedules, booking a hotel room or having to wait long hours for transportation. As the saying goes, all you”ll need is a motorhome and a star to guide it by. Perhaps not these words exactly, right?
Find a motorhome in Portugal now. There are plenty at your disposal, but early reservations are always better and you can find some pretty sweet deals right now.
Campervan for rent is a growing sector in the Algarve. The region wants to therefore provide a more enjoyable visit to those traveling south, specially those who use campervan for rent. Several agencies join a protocol that promises to create a new regional strategy for this area of tourism.
Sooner this year, several entities of the Algarve region, including the Commission for Coordination and Regional Development of the Algarve (CCDRA) and the Association of Municipalities and Tourism in the region, signed a protocol to implement a regional strategy for motorcaravanning. In 2014, the region was visited by 29,000 motor homes with 60,000 people. More than double than two years ago. And campervan for rent are here to stay.
In a survey done in 2007, CCDRA found 92 places where the campervan for rent could be parked without any rules, often leaving trash and doing dumps anywhere.
It has become common to see campers parked along the beaches in cliffs, in car parks, in places that are not licensed. With the increase of this type of tourism, several entities of the Algarve considered urgent to define a strategy. What is intended to create the ASA, Service Areas Campers.
Faced with this new reality, the CCDRA launched a challenge to municipalities and private agents to advance to an infrastructure of this kind, since this type of tourism, which is made especially for Nordic retired, has advantages.
Today there are 12 spaces in the area for campers only, including campervan for rent. But the intention is to increase this number to call to the Algarve a market segment that is growing.
The CCDRA also liked that the project is to widen to the interior. To make most neglected areas more dynamic and because these motorcaravanners like nature tourism, not just sun and beach.
After thousands of kilometers on rental campervans, drivers visiting the city of Lisbon are surprised with parking tickets or improper camp, and the only place to camp in the capital is Monsanto Camping.
According to the Council of Lisbon, it is next to the river station of Belém that happen more parking violations and camp by motorcaravanners, where «there is signaling that expressly prohibits the parking of motor homes and rental campervans».
Every day, there are dozens of campers, mostly vehicles with foreign registration plates and rental campervans, parked in Belém. The Municipal Police of Lisbon has been inspected by assigning fines that can «vary between 19.95 and 60 euros» and putting the automatic blocking vehicles.
The local authority has not counted the number of legal proceedings and the amount of fines, but states that are «guaranteed residual values, over the total number of cars and rental campervans raised by road violations of law».
The campers can park «anywhere, except in expressly forbidden places. For camping, the only space that exists is Monsanto Camping», the Council of Lisbon stated.
The president of the Portuguese Federation of Motorcaravanning (FPA), José Pires, said the city of Lisbon needs to have more spaces where motorcaravanners can park and stop usually 48 hours.
According to the administration of Camping Monsanto – Lisbon Camping & Bungalows, the park «is quite extensive, with about 38 hectares, so it is enough to receive all motorcaravanners, rental campervans and campers visiting Lisbon».
Regarding caravans violations parked or camping unduly, especially next to the Belém river station, administration of Monsanto Camping believes that happens because «probably for economic reasons and also of convenience, with a view to easier access to the places they want to visit».
«The lack of control of the tourists who visit us and permissiveness in unauthorized occupation of space is a concern, turning parking spaces in authentic camps», the administration of Camping Monsanto said.
The Camping Monsanto has «171 wells equipped for motor homes» priced between 24.80 and 34.90 euros, 1,800 free camping places and 70 bungalows, with occupancy capacity of 355 beds.
«The year 2013 was less favorable in recent years, due to economic conditions, not only national but also European, once we receive many French and Spanish customers. 2014 was a little better and this year we have an increase of about 20% over the same period», the administration reported.
The Lisbon Camping & Bungalows welcomes guests all year, however has a «customer increase between April and September».
In a decision that may or may not have been a bolt out of the blue, the cycling”s governing body – UCI – has banned motorhomes from bike races and tours, a measure that will take effect in time for the Tour de France. Instead, riders must stay in hotels.
The decision was revealed on June 26th:
The UCI Management Committee voted the amendment of article 2.2.010 of the UCI Regulations. The article now clarifies the requirement of rider accommodation during stage races: “In all road stage races on the international calendar, the organisers must cover the subsistence expenses of the teams from the night before the start to the final day; riders must stay in the hotels provided by the organiser throughout the entire duration of the race”. The decision was made in order to reaffirm absolute fairness between all riders. The amended article comes into force immediately.
So what this amendment says is that riders are forced to spend the night at the hotels made available by the organization, and not motorhomes. So motorhomes might, in theory, still be around the competition, but are not a valid lodging option anymore.
Why did the UCI make this move?
Apparently the UCI is concerned that riders sleeping in motorhomes while their team mates sleep at the hotels may endanger team union and camaraderie. Such a case happened last May in Italy when Richie Porte of Team Sky opted to sleep in a luxury motorhome. For the team”s manager, Dave Brailsford, having the team leader in a motorhome was due to the fact that changing hotels every day can turn out to be strenuous, with the riders sleeping on the floor in mattresses. The environment and privacy of motorhomes therefore sounds more appealing for higher performance and rest.
And you don”t have to be a genius to accept that going back to your own comfortable room every night gives you a potential edge over the competition. You also don”t have to be very smart to realize that unless all teams and riders have access to similar motorhomes, those who do, have a competitive edge that goes beyond simply sports and training routines. Teams with lower budgets would therefore be in a position where, no matter what their sports merits were, they would be at a clear disadvantage.
What the introduction of motorhomes also meant for many, was a complete rupture with cycling”s long-standing culture of the grand tours with all bikers together.
Quite obviously, Team Sky is not particularly happy with the decision, Chris Froome, winner of the 2013 Tour dee France, being one of the first ones to voice his disappointment with the ruling.
Motorhomes are obviously very much in demand with several sports, particularly motor sports where competitors have to spend a long time on track, but at least for the time being, bike riders will have to revert to the time-long tradition of floor sharing in overcrowded hotels. How teams will react and what stands will be made in the future, one can only tell.
But why not take your own motorhome and follow the glory of the cycling sport? Cycling tours go from town to town, meaning that whoever follows them, is actually taking a tour of the best the country can offer, and this is as true about the Tour de France as it is about the Tour of Portugal, or “Volta a Portugal”.
The “Volta a Portugal” will take place in August and, believe it or not, following hot on its tracks is a great opportunity to get to know the rich landscape of Portugal, from the Mediterranean south and Algarve, to the continental climate of the north, up to Bragança. Each stop is a new city or village to discover and the presence of the tour ensures that locations are buzzing with entertainment and activities. One day the tour will take you to the beaches of algarve, the other to the hills of Alentejo, stopping by in the much sought-after Oporto, and keeping heading north to some of the most beautiful hills and mountains in Europe.
If you”re planning on travelling to Portugal this year, there are plenty of rental options for motorhomes in Portugal, giving you and your family a golden opportunity to get to know this small but diverse country at you leisure, and without breaking the bank.
Volkswagen has just introduced its new generation line of campervans, the VW California or Transporter T6. Now, as we may all know, nothing in the world of campervans was ever as popular as the VW Kombi, more affectionately known as the Breadloaf, or Loaf for short. What the name betrayed was it”s form factor, which was to become not only iconic of surfers and free spirits, but also a paradigm in the campervan world.
The VW Kombi was as frugal as it gets: no steering aids, tough as nails to drive, and an engine sound that sounded like the 7 dwarves were trying to hammer away their escape. But with its roomy interior, affordable price and durability, it quickly became the choice of youngsters looking for a Summer of freedom, and it was only a small step from there to becoming a pop icon, adorning dozens of album covers, many unremarkable, but others certainly more important, as the works of The Beach Boys, The Flower Kings, Bob Dylan, and even Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens. It was truly the queen of campervans.
Even today, the breadloaf remains highly popular for businesses, collectors an travellers. For Volkswagen, living up to that mystique can”t be easy, but with their new jab into the world of campervans, they may have something up their sleeve.
The VW California bases itself on the new Transporter T6 and replaces the charm and atmosphere of its older sibling with some interesting points. Knowing well where its genes come from, the current VW California is the sixth generation since the introduction of the line back in 1950, and remains the only factory-built campervan in the world.
We are talking about very interesting if compact living arrangements, allowing for a family of four to sleep in thanks to the now classic roof bed with an hydraulic pop-up ceiling, adding to the mandatory twin berth. The interiors are all very well arranged and make for a very comfortable home away from home, that includes a stove, a fridge, and LED lighting for a pleasing ambiance. Dimmable LED lighting, we should note!
Of course, in terms of safety the new Transporter T6 is light-years ahead of the breadloaf, with several driver-assist featured, that include a Driver Alert System that notifies the driver if it notices strange driving patterns that could indicate the drive is getting tired or might be a tad tipsy. There”s also Post-Collision Braking to prevent secondary collisions and the regular Brake Assist, allowing for full break pressure in an emergency. You”ll also find Adaptive Cruise Control and front controlled headlight management, plus you can adjust your suspension to three driving modes: comfort, normal and sport. There even a 6.3 inch touchscreen infotainment system, to help you cruise through your summer more comfortably.
In terms of engine, this new generation of campervans comes with a two-litre, 102 bhp turbo direct-injection diesel engine for the Beach Model and a two-liter, 204 bhp turbocharged stratified injection petrol engine for the Ocean Model, which make for rather discrete characteristics, but certainly more than enough.
With all this at hand, the T6 has the aesthetics of a slightly revised T5, which may put some people down, after several tentative designs that resurrected the Kombi”s style. So the utilitarian look is still the rule, and it”s not yet that we get a daring classic, but even so, VW has come up with a very interesting proposal in the Generation SIX special edition with two-tone paint job, 18 inch retro style allow wheels, chrome package, tinted windows and fog lights with cornering lights. The interiors here are even more scrumptious, with contrast stitching on the steering wheel and gear shift leather, two-tone Alcantara seats and fabric floor mats, plus a host of tech goodies.
So, is the new Transporter T6, aka VW California, the new queen of campervans? Not quite yet, if measured by breadloaf standards, but we”re beginning to wonder if classics like the old camper could ever find a parallel in this new world. While lacking the style and mystique of the T1 and T2, the T6 is certainly a very interesting offer in the world of campervans.
Other campervans are on the market to make 2015 a very interesting year to anyone looking to buy or rent one for a slap of asphalt freedom.
Do you want to rent campervans and enjoy a relaxed weekend in Portugal? Take our advice and travel to Amarante. Located in the Douro region, the county has numerous proposals: from the delicious food to natural landscapes, through sporting activities and historical spaces.
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Of certainty that the gluttonous travelers will love Amarante. After all, the gastronomy is full of very abundant dishes with influences from the regions of Minho and Trás-os-Montes. The feijoada (a dish made of beans and several kinds of meat), the tripes, the serrano lamb and the Portuguese stew are some of the major (and tempting) examples.
We should also mention the famous chicken rice, popularized by the nuns of Santa Clara, a lawyer for people with speech difficulties, to whom they were offered in payment promises, numerous poultry. Even today you can see, sometimes by others, chickens and countesses with eggs beside their picture in the Museum of Sacred Art of the Church of São Domingos! Accompany all this by a fresh and reinvigorating green wine. Eggs also play an important role in the confection of the sweets that go well with fine wine from the Douro, produced right there in the south.
Indeed, we must do a special reference to the pastries, which continue to ensure to the people of Amarante and especially to travelers the delicious papos de anjo (a traditional crescent-shaped sweet made with egg yolks, sugar and ground almonds, wrapped in wafer).
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. Amarante is the perfect destination for those who travel through the campervans, looking for cultural values or for outdoor activities and in communing with nature, such as golf, hunting and fishing. This is also a destination of adventure sports, such as climbing or raft.
. The county still breathes history at every corner. It is that the county was already inhabited from early times, when some tribes settled in the Serra da Aboboreira. However, it was the arrival of São Gonçalo (1187-1259) that gave visibility to the region, making the target city of pilgrimages. For the rest, Amarante survived the French invasion led by Napoleon Bonaparte in the nineteenth century and acquired the city was founded on July 8, 1985.
. If it is nature that flames you, the destination is the Tâmega river or the mountains of Abobobeira and Marão, offering both dreamy landscapes and villages of friendly and warm people, rich in tradition and with a marked granite and slate architecture.
. Visit the Museu Municipal Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, a place that aims to bring together materials relating to local history and remember artists and writers born in Amarante: António Carneiro, Amadeo de Souza- Cardoso, Acácio Lino, Manuel Monterroso, Paulino António Cabral, Teixeira de Pascoaes, Augusto Casimiro, Alfredo Brochado, Ilídio Sardoeira, Agustina Bessa Luís, Alexandre Pinheiro Torres…
Travel with the campervans of the Wild Side Campers and discover all the treasures of Amarante