by Expat Focus columnist, Piglet in Portugal
I know it’s impolite to eavesdrop on other people's conversations; however, on a recent flight to the UK I was prompted to tune in to a discussion between a couple of golfing tourists and local residents. The conversation turned from the intricacies of the “ifs” and “buts” of golf to the recent introduction of tolls on the A22 Motorway. For those unfamiliar with the Algarve the A22 Motorway can best be described as the main artery, linking the Algarve from the Spanish/Portuguese border in the east to the towns in the west.
The introduction of the tolls on the 8th December 2011 resulted in protest demonstrations, criminal damage to the cameras, and at one point twenty-four hour police surveillance was mounted at each gantry along the A22 to protect the cameras and equipment. Even a police officer was injured when a disgruntled protester took a pot-shot at one of the offending cameras. The motorway was paid for by the EU and has always been free to use.
The only alternative route is the N125 and is aptly named the “Road of Death” due to the high number of accidents and poor road surface.
Judging from the conversation, I gathered that the resident couple, who looked in their early thirties, lived in Portimão in the Algarve and the others were elderly golfers who had been holidaying there for over 20 years. Tourism is the lifeblood of the Algarve so I was particularly interested to listen to the views of long-term tourists.
As their conversation turned from golf to more general matters the subject of tolls was raised by the couple from Portimão. “Did you use the A22 Motorway during your stay?” they asked almost a little too casually.
“Yes, it was surprisingly empty!” replied one of the golfers.
“That’s because of those damn toll charges.” ...
Read more about tourists and tolls in Portugal