Arriving at Gatwick for my two week holiday and I was very pleased to see the great British Stag and Hen weekends are alive and kicking. They stoid proud in thier groups slowly getting closer to each other like a pack of mating wolves all wearing T-Shirts explaining giving thier pub nicknames are and what their "Pies de resistance" is in the sack!
It filled me with great pride that this fine nation of ours loves to celebrate drinking at 5am whilst telling the world that "No muff is too tuff because "one" dives at five!" and that "Lucy" was really christened "Loose Lips from Lingfield!"
My flight from London Gatwick to Faro actually left on time and a very pleasant Scotish captain informed us he was going to be "Jumping the Q!" How very bloody "German" I thought to myself as he pulled back from the stand quuicker than "no muff too tuff" would from ."Loose lips from Lingfield!" On this occasion it seemed so very acceptable to be so "Un-PC" and I enjoyed the speedy departure as much as I did watching "Garry the grinder" get blown out by "Sally slag" from Swindon!
This is why the Scottish are such a fantastic race of people, proud, loyal to their heritage and brave, who else would jump a Q in front of a 747 in a little orange Easy jet - this Mc something would and the stag, Hen and holiday makers aboard this flight were very grateful.
I really must thank the very charming stewardess on board my Easy Jet flight, I was bloody freezing, now this may have been due to three hours sleep following a 14 hour day at X Factor, a journey home, a re pack and a trip to my home for a three hour snooze before a dash to the airport (alarm set for 3.30!) or the fact that I broke my cardinal rule of not taking a jumper with me on a plane, as I said to my daughter before her recent school trip away; you can take layers off to cool down but you can't put stuff on to warm up if you don't have it! (Note to self - Practice what ya' preach!)
Anyway - I asked the delightfully tall female stewardess (The height restriction rule must have been dropped on Easyjet so thank you Stellios!) if I could have a blanket - she replied they didn't have any - then came that wonderful customer service that our American cousins do so well yet we seem so oblivious too - she went to her personal bag, pulled out her own Easy Jet labeled cardigan and gave it to me to keep warm - whoever you are - I cannot thank you enough for keeping this "lovey" a little warmer - you warmed up the warm up!
I love flying and have been very lucky to fly both Virgin and BA (up front) and also very blessed to have crossed the pond privately - it's the crew who make a flight, not the airline - I've had good and bad flights on both the UK's major airlines but my biggest regret was falling asleep when upgraded to BA 1st on a CSE trip to entertain the trooos in a few desserts! On landing I almost wanted to ask the pilot if I could go back again just to experience the beauty of BA first rather than sleep through it! But honestly, that's a whole blog in itself!
Right, my point - hire cars in Faro and my advice should you ever need it! (This is like an audition for a travel writer!)
It's so refreshing hiring a car after landing into Faro airport, why? Because its an adventure not a chore, it could easily become a frustrating nightmare but I urge you to take two deep breaths, a bottle of water and a sense of humour as you depart the very easy arrivals area of an airport I really like (But not on Thursdays, Thursdays is package holiday departure day and hell on earth!)
My paperwork led me to "Car park four" and not the nice shiny hire car buildings you can go to if you'd have gone through one of the market leaders, so it was a left turn (Brilliant on a BA or Virgin flight, not as glamorous in the heat of Faro!) and a trip with my trolley on what can only be described as an assault course, over bumps, a wrong turn under a barrier, through a restricted zone, past some motorbikes on a rally (Don't ask) and then to a van, a checking in area? - No! A building? - No! A air conditioned office? -No! A bloody van but not any old van, a van with a small sign in the window reading "Hore Car!!!"
I was met by a fag smoking rugged man with a huge yellow smile - what a greeting to the land of the discoverers!
The paperwork was done on his lap with extra insurance for this and that and ash wiped off the credit card machine as I signed for shit i knew nothing about!
Now came the million $ question! "Wound token for Matwoo" he asked? I stared at him like a man lost for anything to say hoping he wound give me the answer..... The glisten from his yellow teeth and slightly browner stubble gave me my answer - "No thank you!"
(I've been to Faro a few times now and didn't need to pay €20 for a motorway token, I was going my route and the route I know so well! (I am such a man!)
Car collected (Suitable for Noddy but a car all the same) and I was off!
The fist 45 minutes of me in a car made for "Small people who couldn't even fit into Zara XXL jumper!) was around car park four searching for the exit! It was enjoyable for me as I was in no particular rush!)
I soaked up the rows and rows of hire cars and smoking men in white vans, if this had been at night I may well have been arrested for Dogging! For me this was not a lost car park four moment but an audition for "Top Gear!"
After a quarter tank of fuel I found the exit and I was off for a motorway free journey to my villa, as I hit 4th gear and the engine said at me "You're having a fucking laugh" I passed under some camera line things, a very loud beep went off in my car!
Many who hire cars would hear it as a beep, I heard it as "You should have bought the friggin motorway token you plank!"
I know - self will run riot! A quick call to the hire car company put it right and an extra €20 charge put my mind at ease that I could now speed the motorways of Portugal without a care in the world - did I ? Of course I didn't! But I got a token and that's the bonus right?
I don't get lost once (of course I don't, I'm a man, I merely get diverted) We should embrace such diversions as often in life we are so bloody busy speeding to get to the end point we have not seen , felt, experienced or embraced any of the journey to reach our goal point! (That's the spiritual side of the blog out of the way!)
This brings me nicely to the lack of maps available at Faro airport -if you're going --- bring one - you're going to need it as it would seem a country born out of discovery and following ones Instingst wants you to do the same, and why not?
Love Portugal and so will you, but go with it, not against it, otherwise you will not find the new world if such a thing exists!!
Thanks for reading and no doubt getting around my grammar and spelling - it's a challenge I know!