Of all the Oregon/Portugal differences that I’ve tried to explain to my friends and family stateside, one of the hardest for them to understand is the cost of car travel. In the US, gas prices make headlines when they go over four dollars per gallon. (European readers: that’s only 0.83 euro cents per liter; try not to laugh. And no, I am not kidding about the headlines.) And in Oregon, there are no toll highways. None. This in a state that covers three times the land area of Portugal.
When I lived on the Oregon coast, most of us had family and friends inland, and we spent a lot of time driving back and forth to visit them. We’d also think nothing of driving one or two hours just to go for a hike, or to shop in the big inland stores for things we couldn’t get at the coast. Even a trip to Portland’s airport, three hours and 144 miles away, was something we considered more for the time involved than the money. With gas at $4 per gallon, in a car averaging 25 mpg, that drive to Portland would cost $46 round trip (36.50 euros at today’s exchange rate).
The driving distance from Loulé to Lisboa’s airport is similar: 164 miles. Using the same theoretical car, this trip would cost $157.33 (124.84 euros). That includes $111.33 for the gas (or 88.34 euros at 1.779 euros per liter, the price we paid yesterday) and another $46 (36.50 euros) for the tolls.
Similar drive, 340% more expensive. This is why the Portuguese don’t drive much.
The really amazing part? It’s actually cheaper for us to fly from Faro to London than it was for us to drive from Loulé to Porto. If we plan ahead and buy Easyjet tickets on cheap dates, we can go to London for under 90 euros each. The gas and tolls from our recent trip to Porto cost more than 250 euros.
I’m thinking we might head back to London this winter.