Looking back over the past two and a half years, it’s amazing what we have accomplished in preparation for this tour.
The first major obstacle was estimating the cost of the tour that far in advance.
Fortunately, the Euro-to-Dollar exchange rate has been favorable, and even though customs added new requirements increasing our shipping costs, it looks like we are coming in within budget. We estimated $15,000 per couple and one car. This includes shipping (and transport insurance for the cars) from the US to Portugal and back from Barcelona, Spain, to home. It also includes limited European liability insurance, 21 days of tourist class hotels, some group meals, some excursion tickets, a luggage van, a “trouble” trailer, a multilingual European tour coordinator, and local English-speaking guides at some of the major tourist spots. It doesn’t include individual air tickets or travel insurance. When the trip is finished and we do our final accounting, excess funds (if any) will be returned to the tour participants. We are a non-profit touring club.
The second challenge was accumulating copies of all documents required to meet various customs regulations. Did you know that our cars had to have “green cards”? That meant that WAY in advance of the tour, we had to provide specifics for each car – including year, model, VIN, license, registration, title, local insurance info, height and weight! (I’m glad I didn’t have to provide my personal height and weight…) We also learned that customs agents in various ports (both US and European) often have differing interpretation of their regulations. That only added to the complication and the red tape.Above are the Barry, Padgett and Burbank cars waiting to enter the port warehouse.
The third challenge – but a fun one – was devising an itinerary. Obviously, we want to see as much of the two countries as we can, but the age and speed of our cars (not to mention our vintage bodies) limits the daily mileage. And, sometime we need to rest a day or two in a good tourist locale. We went through at least three versions of an itinerary, and the current one is still developing. We found that Portuguese and Spanish car enthusiasts wanted to help us enjoy their countries, and where it’s possible, their members will join us for short periods. Their enthusiasm and hospitality is heart-warming. We plan to check out local foods and wines, crafts, culture, architecture, history, and music. We believe we will have an opportunity to attend a Portuguese Fado music show and possibly a Spanish Flamenco show.
Finally, our participants had to make sure each car was in good running order.Some of us had to rebuild engines… Here’s Jay working on the Padgett car.
Everyone is packing basic tools and some spare parts, and breakdowns on a tour such as this are part of the experience. Fortunately, many of our participants are experienced vintage car mechanics, so we expect this aspect of the tour to go fairly smoothly.
Now in these last couple of weeks before we join our cars in Portugal, we’re down to the normal traveller issues of deciding what to pack for a three-week trip. Yes, there will probably be some rain, but the weather should be reasonably pleasant. Every time I have looked, it’s been very similar to what we’re experiencing here on the central coast of California.
Next post will come from Portugal. See you there!