We’ve got to be careful with capitol cities. As with most big/capitol cities, getting anyway near in a MoHo is almost impossible. It’s not a very good environment for a home on wheels, tight streets, traffic, noise etc. it’s also reported that most of the criminal acts against MoHo’s happen near cities or famous attractions (Acropolis, Tower of Pisa, Lourdes, anyway near Rome and Lisbon), so it’s probably wise to keep out of major cities if you value your home, or the stuff in it. We do take certain measures, we have a safe that will hold everything we need it to, we have a lock-up routine that would deter the casual opportunist, but let’s face it..if the determined low-life wanted to get in…they will and there’s very little you can do about it. We’ve ruled out alarms, even monitored ones, they may help you recover your vehicle if stolen, or alert you if there’s a problem, but it would be no good to us against the casual thief who is only after the contents. We don’t think locking a medium/large dog in an unattended MoHo for hours on end is fair either, some dogs may cope OK being left for a few hours, but we don’t think it would sit right with us. So it’s back to good-old-fashioned-common-sense, parking up in safe spot, possibly with other (lucky people), MoHo’s is always sensible, close…but not too close and never down a dead-end side-street where there’s nobody about, or an isolated car park. But the thought of returning one afternoon to where you parked most of your worldly belongings and finding nothing but tyre tracks still sends a chill down my spine. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. It’s for this very reason we keep out of large cites, working on a theory of : increase the population, increase amount of low-life.
There are several ‘parking opportunities’ around Lisbon, one 5km out of town in Belém, near the ferry and famous explorer’s statue, another within city limits just to the west of the bridge, it’s just a large car park nestled between two nightclubs paying host to a few ‘Hippy-surfer-types’. Between these two ‘unofficial MoHo gatherings’ there are hundreds of free car parks, full of thousands of cars and every car park has the ‘Excepto-Autocaravanas’ (no MoHo’s) signage displayed, seems were not wanted around these parts.
On the way into Lisbon we pass the delightful area of Belém. Home of Cathedrals, Exhibitions, a Planetarium and cute little tower which once sat almost in the centre of the river, until the earthquake of 1755 changed the rivers route. This time, unusually for us, we had timed our visit to perfection, so many times we hear “ho, you should have been here last weekend…it was free!, our Guide book informs us that all the attractions and museums are free on the first Sunday of the month,..’owt for nowt and we can afford it! So tucked in tight into the first parking slot in Belém, totally ignoring the ‘no-Autocaravans’ signs. Other mobile dwellers inform us ‘they have been parked up for 4 nights with no problems’, great…smack-bang next to everything we wanted to see in Belem. That was until nice Mr.Plod taps on the window in the morning and asks us to move along. We weren’t alone, 3 Portuguese, 2 French and 2 other Brits all got their marching orders, all scattered to the corners of Lisbon. As usual, all the vehicles were photographed and registrations recorded, so no chance of just scooting up the road and pleading innocence, no…this game’s up!
I’d spotted an Aire on ‘Camper Contacts’ over on the south side of the bridge, about 15km away from Belém, no cycles allowed over the bridge, so I guess it would be tricky to for other migrant meanders. There’s a ferry option too, but I’ll bet there’s a bus or train going over the bridge. There’a a charge one way on the bridge, going from south to north, (Fankie the Moped :class one= €1.75). The aire was superb, nestled between a housing estate and a sports field, all services (no EHU) and FREE! We felt safe and secure here and made 3 trips over the bridge into Belém and Lisbon, it’s got to be better than dodging the police, or worrying about Charlie close to a big city.
Belém just happens to be home to the most famous Portuguese cafe, ‘The Confeitaria de Belém’, serving up the best Nata in the country since 1837, (so I guess they know how to make ’em by now) a flaky pastry-case filled with a semi-solidified custard cream. We just had to go for coffee and cake, or is it a tart?…not sure (private note to JP. you’d love ’em unk, track down a Portuguese bakery, soon). We’ve tried several Nata before this, all over Portugal, the ones bought in Porto were very nice, the best so far, but these are the ‘Real deal’ and they knock out thousands of them every day.
Sunday morning, first Sunday of the month, free entry all-round to the top sights, we were up and out by 09:30, fire up the 90cc-Frankie-machine and whizz over the bridge into Belém. Then we join the hordes of other visitors (the word is out), at the ‘Monastery dos Jeronimos’, built to honor Vasco de Gama’s safe return from India in 1497. We queued for half an hour only to be told that the rules ‘just changed, free entry on the first Sunday is only for Portuguese nationals’…’spoofed again scoob, if it weren’t for those pesky politicians changing all them rules!’ Once again, there’s a refusal at the gate, no way we’re going to fork out €10e for half an hours entertainment and education. It was the same story at the tower of Belém, free for the locals, tourists pay-up please, er..no not today. So we forfeit culture, history and education in favor a long forgotten delicacy and zoom over towards Lisbon to the Irish bar for burger, chips and Guinness…we’re soooo classy!
We didn’t completely fail to find free entertainment in Belém, the “Electric Museum” flout them pesky rules, as a smiley 14 year old chap at the desk announces ‘it’s free for all today’, whoopee-do and we’re in like Flynn! What a find, we love a quirky museum. It’s housed in an old coal-fired power station, all the old boilers, condensers and generating gear still in there, cleaned up and painted, info boards a-plenty. The furnace (British made of course) has been ‘chopped open’ so visitors can walk through the rolling fire area. Generators have been laser cut open so the insides are open to view, it’s great. On a weekday, coach-loads of kids would be marched through here, loads of interactive electrical stuff to play with, from plastic trays and a Van-de-graph generator to, low amperage ‘through your body’ tingle circuits. Kids need to know about electricity, it’s so important now, and will become even more in the future, replacing all forms of fossil fuels…someone have a word with Russia, China and Trump…please.
Lisbon city, Mmmm? Would I go back…er…no. The trams are cute not much else. Belém’s the place to be, just don’t get caught kipping in the free car parks.
Belem, car park. n38.69505 w9.20070 Great spot, but you may be moved on.
Corroios, South bank. n38.63261 w9.15548 Free aire. Water & waste. No EHU. Surprisingly quiet. 10km from the bridge. Possible public transport into Lisbon
Have a great week.