Read this section before you leave home.
Before you Depart tells you about what’s at the villa, & reminds you what you need to bring yourselves.
Your Journey covers important aspects relating to your flight, your car hire pickup at the airport, & your road journey from the airport to Quinta dos Sonhos
Information you need before you depart
What’s provided at the villa
The villa is generously equipped for 7 guests, the casinha for 4. Here is a list of the main items.
|Cooker (gas hob & electric oven)||Gas hob|
|Full size fridge & freezer||Full size fridge & small freezer|
|Iron, ironing board||Iron, small ironing board|
|Electric Toasters||Electric Toaster|
|Flat screen TV, Freesat receiver||Small flat screen TV, Freesat receiver|
|DVD/CD player/recorder home cinema system||DVD/CD player home cinema system|
|(above includes Hi-Fi system). Connection for Ipod, MP3 or PDA via a 2nd system in the orangery.|
|Selection of prerecorded audio stored on DVD hard disc|
|Selection of small children’s videos recorded on hard disk|
|Very large selection of books||Small selection of books|
|Selection of games|
|Guest computer with wireless broadband internet connection|
|2 Cots if required – please bring your own linen|
|Clamp on baby high-chairs. Plastic stand alone high chair|
|Selection of children’s beach toys (buckets, spades, armbands, beach balls, snorkel, plastic chairs, – use at own risk)|
|All linen including towels but excluding swimming towels||All linen including towels but excluding swimming towels|
|Outsidepadded sunbeds*Table tennis table, paddles for 4Boules set.Various childrens’ beach toys (use at your own risk)|
|accessibility equipment (on request): manual shower chair/toilet seat/commodepool hoist fitted with either sling seat or rigid seat.|
Please let us know if you think of something that isn’t listed that should be.
Welcome packWe provide a small pack of food essentials including: tea, coffee, water, flora, rolls/bread, cheese, jam, together with starter supplies of toilet rolls, hand soap, dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid.
Before you leave home
- Check that you have valid travel insurance for yourself & all members in your party (you have agreed to do this as a condition of booking), & that you bring the documentation with you.
- Check your driving licence now – that you can locate it, & that it is up to date – do not wait until a few days before you depart as it can take a month or more to get a replacement UK driving licence. If it is a new 2 part style licence, you need to bring both parts. The car hire company won’t let you have your car without it!
- Check your passports are still valid!
- European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This replaces the E111 form & entitles you to free health benefits across Europe). The EHIC has a photo ID & magnetic strip. You can apply online at EHIC. It is essential if you want free medical care whilst in Portugal. A passport on its own is now not enough.
- If you intend using a UK mobile phone in Portugal, check the call rates with your service provider. If you have a smartphone, switch data roaming off unless you want to run up a bill for data (since July 2012 the EU now limits the charges that service providers can charge).
- If you intend using the guest computer:
- Make a note of any account names & passwords you may need while you are away.
- If you intend to bring your own laptop computer, PDA, PSP smartphone or any other wireless enabled device: Check your insurance cover on these items;
- Back up before you leave
- Bring any necessary program or data CD/DVDs/memory sticks with them.
- Print & bring the notes regarding gaining access to the villa.
- Organise your currency. We suggest bringing some €uros, together with normal bank debit/credt cards. We do NOT recommend Travellers Cheques – they can cost a fortune in commission to cash, together with wasting time in queues in banks. Ordinary credit & debit cards can be used in most restaurants & other tourist related shops as well as to withdraw cash from ATMs, but you will be charged by your own bank – check with them before you leave. Some banks like you to inform them if you intend to use your cards abroad, to avoid you being cut off because of a suspicious transaction.
- If you take medication, bring adequate stocks with you. Whilst you can obtain everything at the pharmacy, medication costs, even for humble aspirins & generic drugs are expensive.
- Mozzie bashers can be bought locally as can UK electrical adaptors but you can save some time by bringing your own.
Villa phone number
The phone number for the villa from the UK is:
00351 282 969 283
At your departure airport
Scheduled flights generally run to time, charter flights can encounter delays or be rescheduled at the last minute. Remember that your car hire in Portugal is geared around the flight details you provided at the time the car was booked. If you encounter a major reschedule it is a good idea to telephone the car hire company and advise them of changes. If your flight is delayed such that your arrival is after midnight the hire company may charge a premium as they have to keep the hire desk open all night. If alternatively your outbound flight is rescheduled to an earlier time, remember that your hire period commences on the hour you pick the car up and if your return flight is at a later time you may incur an additional day’s rental unless you get the car back at the same time as your hire commenced.
At Faro Airport
Note: The roof of the arrivals hall blew off during the winter of 2011. Major repair works are in progress (2012) which means that you will have to carry your bags much further, & you will end up at a “tent” which is the temporary arrivals hall – disorientating at first but the car hire reps are in the tent!
As the airport and the car hire desks can be very busy, you can save yourself time and lots of queuing by splitting your party into “luggage collectors” and “car collectors” after you have gone through passport control. Whilst the luggage collectors will need to wait for the luggage in the baggage reclaim area the car collector(s) can go straight through customs to the main airport concourse and sort out the car(s) and thus beat the rest of the herd! The following information on car hire procedure is broadly similar for most other car hire companies who offer car pick up at Faro.
Leaving the baggage hall go out onto the main concourse and turn left. Go through the immediate throng of tour reps and taxi drivers, and keep an eye open for the Leisure Car sign on the left balcony just after the Information Desk.
If you booked your car through us, your car is booked in your name & there is no prepaid voucher as you will pay on arrival. In the event of any difficulty our house manager Ann Stubbings mobile: 91 740 44 70.
The car collectors should take with them their passport, driving licence and the passports of any others intending to drive the hired car(s) together with a credit card for deposits against damage excess & petrol (returned when you return the car with the petrol gauge as it was when you collected the car, usually full). Although the car is booked in the name of just one lead driver others can drive the car (sometimes at a supplement) provided valid licences & passports are produced at this stage.
Note: a trick that virtually all car hire companies pull these days is to invite you to pay for extra insurance to cover damage excess. This is often an extortionate amount but to decline it leaves you open to hefty charge on your credit card if they say you have damaged the car. Best is to take out an insurance e.g. http://www.carhireexcess.com/ before you depart – it can be a lot cheaper, especially if you hire more than once per year.
When the formalities have been completed they will be given the car keys and collect the car(s), sometimes from a compound outside the airport building or, by use of a courtesy bus to a compound on the airport perimeter. In either case when driving back to the airport building, on turning left to drive in front of the airport building, drive along most of the length of the building as Arrivals are at the far end (2012 – you will encounter road works etc – aim for the white marquee just past the Arrivals building, on the left).. They should stop in this area to await the rest of their party . They may get moved on and have to drive round the airport and back, but will usually be OK to wait for a few minutes.
When the others have collected their luggage (make sure you get a trolley), go through customs, out of the airport building through the doors directly opposite, turn left and walk down to Departures at the other end of the airport building where the car collector(s) will be able to wait for you, as they won’t be able to wait outside the Arrivals exit.
Motorway Tolls on A22 (east-west motorway across the Algarve)
The motorway (A22) that runs east-west now has a toll system in operation (since autumn 2011) however it has been inplemented in an unconventional (code for Portuguese!) way. Please read the following notes carefully:-
The toll system is entirely electronic i.e there are NO toll booths at entry or exit (nor any form of advice or instruction!). Overhead sensors pick up the registration details of cars that pass beneath them & local people pay via their portuguese banks accounts charges accrued on a monthly basis.
You will have spotted the fatal flaw immediately – there is no provision for foreign visitors to pay. Most visitors hire cars. The car hire firms refuse to take on the hassle of colllecting toll money. If you are renting a car in Portugal you will therefore be given or shown a piece of paper saying that you should pay for your toll use by going to the post office. [May 2012 – we have just heard that some car rental companies are getting to grips with the system – they may offer you an “optional” transponder – you pay a fee which they apply to your account it is automatically debited as you drive. Subsequently you can phone them to top-up.
Some might say that they will debit your credit card for unpaid fees. Our advice: The car hire company absolutely cannot pass your credit card details on to a third party & if they were to bill your card with toll fees you can take it up with your card issuer as they are unauthorised by you.
If you are feeling generous & decide to pay at the post office,you will possibly be asked to pay all the charges outstanding on that vehicle – this could include unpaid charges from previous hirers (see next note). You can therefore save yourself some money by knowing the dates of your hire contract & perhaps take your flight ticket with you. Do not bother going to the post office immediately after the journey – the clever electronic system seems to take a few days to pass the data to the post office (carrier pidgeon?)
Those who are still alert will have spotted the next fatal flaw – Whlst there is a post office at the airport, your journey to the airport along the motorway will not have been logged yet (see 2.2 above), therefore its impossible to pay the final toll even if you are super honest about the rest. It also means that the previous hirer will not have paid their last journey either.
There is a post office in Mexilhoeira Grande although it’s not obvious as it’s run by the local council office (Freguesea). Driving towards the village from the villa, turn right at the road junction & about 100m along on the right is the Freguesea (single storey white building) – there is a tiny “Correio” (post office) sign outside;. Inside you will see a counter & probably a queue. Simply show your car key fob (with registration details) & they will understand what you want to do. You may want to take in your rental agreement in case there is any discussion about which charges you are responsible for.
There are also full post offices in main towns, easiest to locate is is in Lagos (main square) “Correios”.
If you are driving a foreign registered car (you drove down, or hired from Spain), theoretically you can still pay at the post office (2.2 above) but of course you can’t pay for your journey out of Portugal (assuming you use the A22). We have no idea how this will be resolved. Current folklore has it that there is simply no way for tolls to be enforced against foreign registered vehicles. It would seem therefore to be a “voluntary tax”.
If you are in doubt, or worried about the system then we suggest you avoid the motorway. Our directions to the villa offer both motorway & non motorway routes.