Driving in Portugal

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Lisbon in the rear view mirror, Maria Rebelo, digital print file, 2012.

Portugal has one of the world’s best highway systems, so it is easy to drive around the country’s 36,000 square miles. But driving in the two largest cities, Lisbon and Oporto, is a different story.

Lisbon has wide avenues, built after the 1755 earthquake, as well as many new tunnels and overpasses. But, whenever the Lisbon soccer teams lose, drivers are irritated and drive in aggressive, erratic ways. Since the Oporto soccer team wins most of the championships, it’s a bad idea to drive in Lisbon. It is much better to use public transportation, the subway, buses, trams, and taxis.

In Oporto, drivers enjoy the serenity afforded by their soccer victories. But the medieval streets in the center of Oporto were designed for vehicles with only one horse power. Driving a car requires constant care and attention. Here too, the subway, trams, buses and taxis will take you reliably everywhere.

There’s another reason why city driving is a bad idea. Every moment focused on traffic lights and road lanes, can be better spent contemplating the aristocratic beauty of Lisbon and Oporto.

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