Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Cars and Girls -Portugal 8


We took the IC1, parallelling the motorway Northwards, before veering West again to pick our way across the city of Setubal, aiming for the National Park on the other side. The Parque Nacional da Arrabida was worth the effort, as we travelled the coast road at its perimeter, we were treated to spectacular sea views and coastline, looking for all the world like the Italian Riviera.

However, our enjoyment was brought to an abrupt halt when about 20 kilometers in, we found the road closed, and, as the vertiginous slopes precluded any possibility of a way through, we were obliged to retrace our steps almost back to Setubal itself to continue our journey!. We resolved to learn the Portuguese for No through Road

We eventually hit the town immediately North of Setubal, Palmela. Curiously, I had quite by chance pulled out the Toto song “Palmela” to play that day. We pulled up just outside the bus station, with a fabulous view of the town, perched atop a hill, with the now obligatory fortress. It was here that the indefinable something began, like an itch you can’t scratch. The place didn’t seem to project the openness, friendliness, general healthiness that everywhere else thus far had done.

I pointed out to Miki that bus stations usually drew the detritus of society in all its varied forms, and why should Portugal be an exception?  We put it to the back of our minds, and moved on. Our plan was to park for the night by the water on the opposite shore of the Rio Tejo to Lisbon, and with that aim, we drove towards the town of Moita, and on to Barreiro.

You could almost hear the culture shock. Suddenly we were confonted by hi-rise blocks seemingly sprouting out of the ground like a scene from a Terry Gilliam movie, garishly washed with graffitti, and festooned with miles and miles of grubby washing, like shabby bunting from a leftover parade.

I got the impression that if we left the Boomobile for five minutes, we’d become the proud owner of a pile of bricks instead of four good wheels. We U-turned and headed back for Moita. The general feeling I had was that we had stumbled into the land of the disaffected, the desperate, as if Lisbon were acting like a magnet, drawing them in. For the first time on the whole trip, we spent an hour looking for somewhere suitable to overnight.

We thought we’d found it on the outskirts of Moita. A beautifully designed waterfront with wide open spaces and plenty of parking, and a great view of the water and the brightly coloured boats that decorated it.


Moita harbour sunset

But, only a short while after going to bed, the youth of Moita gathered outside our Motorhome, and in a depressingly familiar display of faux testosterone, played the “my car is louder than your car” game.

I had, in my apparent naivete, hoped that the Portguese had not succumbed to this pathetic disease, but it was not to be. Listening to the most inane drum’n’bass music on the planet, through systems quite possibly worth more than their cars, they handbraked turned, wheel-spun, and generally revved the hell out of their pathetic little vehicles for some time, within feet of our door, accompanied by the usual, chest-puffing back-slapping high fiving crap that these educationally stunted idiots go in for.

There wasn’t a single girl amongst them. I wondered again, as I had in my twenties – what the hell is wrong with a guy that wants to spend his Saturday night tear-arsing around a gravel carpark with his stupid friends instead of finding a girl? I can only surmise that they were all gay. Anyway, they eventually got bored and probably went off to each others bedrooms to talk about Michael Schumacher.

I was beginning to become wary about visiting Lisbon… if the surrounding areas were like this, how was the Capital going to shape up?

Kev Moore


June 18, 2008 - Posted by | Art, life, photography, travel, writing | , , , , ,


  1. THat place gave me the creeps!

    Comment by Susan Cornelis | June 18, 2008

  2. As always, I enjoy reading your post Kev! and the photos (these and those before) are great…I will shamelessly inspire myself from them, if you let me… Kusturica had a movie called something like “I’ve met happy gipsies”… you seem to fit the profile even if your gipsyness has ups and downs…
    That the life I would have liked to live, at least for a few years…

    Comment by iondanu | June 19, 2008

  3. All part of the rich tapestry of life, Susan!
    Danu: by all means, inspire away!

    Comment by kevmoore | June 19, 2008

  4. Hi,
    My name’s Leonor.
    I am building a poster and I would ask your permission to use the first image of this post. Can I?
    The poster, if accepted, will be disclosed to a party in Palmela.

    (sorry my english)

    Comment by Leonor | June 23, 2009

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