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Algarve visits on 19th to 26th August 2004

Page last updated on 10th November 2013


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For the second Classic Irish Buses visit to mainland Europe, the 2004 destination was to be the Algarve in southern Portugal. Months of planning went into this trip, and more specifically, the important event which occurred a couple of days prior to the holiday; namely our wedding on August 17th 2004.

The first part of the trip was made on a Northern Counties bodied single deck something or other, across the tarmac at Dublin Airport. Registered 93-D-40467, the Servisair owned bus had the remains of a Metroline sticker on the back window, and fleet number LN15 in the cab area. Which presumably makes it an ex London vehicle........ Then onto a Boeing 737-800 owned by Futura Airways, and our allocated seats were opposite a blank part of the fuselage, rather than having the luxury of a window to see out of. Perhaps someone had managed to fit in extra seats at the expense of legroom?

Having landed at Faro Airport, and after another tarmac bus trip (this time on a very wide Neoplan) we were directed to the coach park, only to find the Transol Scania K112 coach allocated for the journey to Carvoeiro was mechanically unwell. Eventually a number of drivers decided to try push starting the coach, aided by a slight decline. Their efforts were rewarded by the engine bursting into life, and so we were able to board it.

Carvoeiro, a former fishing village, is now very much a tourist destination, and it was to be our base for the next week. Scheduled bus services in the Algarve are provided by Empresa Viacao do Algarve, Lda., or EVA for short. Mainly the fleet members we encountered were examples of Volvo, Mercedes and DAF manufacture, in both bus and coach format. As can be seen from the following photo, most of the streets in Carvoeiro are quite narrow, and occasional inconsiderate parking opposite the metal hoarding was to delay the progress of a number of coaches coming into town. In this instance the two cars in question were manhandled onto the pavement by some of the coach passengers to create a bit of extra space!

As for local "things to do", there's restaurants, and plenty of them too!!! And bars, and cafes, and sand and salt water.......... Compared to certain other countries in Western Europe, the price of eating out in this area seemed to be less than what we were used to, the comparison being made so much easier by having a common currency. Night time entertainment was provided by bands on the seafront stage, and buskers outside some of the restaurants. Cover versions of Beatles songs in particular were much heard.

Now, sunbathing on the beach is all very well, but once the boredom factor kicked in, it was time to visit the local Europcar office and get some transport. A silver Seat Ibiza registered 38-74-XF was ours for four days, and once I got used to the left hand drive, it was easy enough to get about and see more of the area, and more of the EVA buses. The nearby town of Lagoa offered a sighting of a new Sunsundegui Sideral coach in the bus station, while noted passing by was a red painted opentop MAN double decker, possibly new to Berlin. A second example, this time in blue and grey, was noted a few days later in Albufeira, a town which has to have the ultimate in bad taste with its garish multi-coloured, multi-storey apartments in the harbour area.

Albufeira is also home to "Zoomarine", comprising a zoo and theme park. In the coach park I found this pair of coaches, both Portuguese registered. The first one is rear engined, so is probably a Scania, or a DAF, or a Mercedes, or a Volvo, in short I haven't a clue! The second one is a 1991 Van Hool Astromega, one of Zoomarine's own fleet.

Other tourist services are provided by Deltrains, and three examples were seen in use. A diesel powered tractor, styled like a steam locomotive, hauls two four wheeled trailers, although the one in Lagos had three. In the case of the one in Carvoeiro, it does a 30-minute trip from the square on a circular route. Never having seen such a vehicle before, I had no idea what was what under the bonnet, however an e-mail arrived some 14 months later from the company who make these trains. Deltrain are based in Maca, Portugal, and the company's website is at http://www.deltrain.com And the motive power? A Land Rover 2.5 litre diesel unit, with four wheel drive traction.......

Other places we visited were Monchique, a charming mountain village in the Serra de Monique range, and Sagres at the south west corner of the country. The photo below is of two EVA vehicles at the Sagres terminus, actually at a roundabout on the edge of the town. Nearest the camera is Mercedes bus 9526, and behind it is 9521, a Mercedes 0303 coach. As with all EVA buses we saw, 9526 has curtains on all the windows.

Having returned the car to its owners on our penultimate day, the afternoon was taken up with a three hour coastal cruise. For this we were collected by a Ford Transit minibus and brought to Portimao to board the "Alegria". On this voyage we headed east, to within viewing distance of Albufeira, before the boat turned round and went back to Portimao. Outbound a number of stops were made inside cavelike areas where the sea has eroded the sandstone cliffs, the return trip was non-stop. Another, older, Ford Transit operating the return shuttle encountered a traffic police checkpoint on leaving Portimao. What was said between the officer and driver, or what particular document was asked for and seemed to be hard to find we didn't know, but suffice it to say the driver was thereafter clearly agitated and his driving standard left a bit to be desired. It was a relief to get off the minibus soon afterwards!!!!

Anyway, Portimao harbour is often a good place to find parked up tour coaches, and here's a couple of examples.

This elderly but yet well presented Setra is part of the Transol fleet, and this coach, or one similar to it, was used for our journey from Carvoeiro back to Faro airport on the Thursday evening.

73-58-PQ is a Scania coach owned by Portimar, with a Marcopolo Viaggio GII 370 body.

We finish off with a couple of other views of buses and coaches in Carvoeiro.

Frota Azul is another tour coach operator, and this is a rear view of the same coach as jammed by the parked cars in the photo further up this page. Note the apparent lack of an emergency exit door, instead hammers are provided on the internal window pillars to break the glass should the need arise.

Another EVA bus is seen on its way back to Lagoa, descending the slightly hilly Estrada do Farol. The architecture to the right of the bus is typical of this region, and this street has the largest concentration of catering establishments in the town. Very few classic vehicles were seen, with the exception of a highly restored Magirus fire tender on display at Lagos fire station, and a Mk. 1 Ford Escort seen in a car park in the same town. (The same car park incidentally was home to a couple of derelict UK registered cars.......) Apart from that, several examples of the legendary yet humble Renault 4 cars were encountered, all in ordinary every-day use.


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