The cab arrived at an o'clock in the morning I had forgotten existed. The drive to Southend Airport was pleasant enough - hardly a car on the road. We and the other members of our party arrived in the car park about the same time, and we all trundled through the Airport together. Bag drop, security, air side restaurant, gate plane, take-off, flight, landing - all pretty straight forward, all as pleasant as possible. A great start, but this isn't about the journey, this is about the first few hours on Portuguese soil.
Initially getting through Faro airport wasn't a problem, once we had our bags we had to pick up the cars. I had booked then on RentalCars.com. One with Avis, one with DriveOnHoliday. Avis are easy to find, so with a mixture of drivers we got in the queue. At the desk the excesses were different (less) than Rental Cars had said. They also offered us extra insurance to completely remove any excess in the event of a claim. They provided us with documentation in English and Portuguese. - A slow, if satisfactory experience, although the car we got was not what we booked, and could have been booked cheaper on the RentalCars website, it was a good car. We loaded it up, and after fiddling about with giving the driver the location of the villa sent them on their way.
The remainder of us, with almost no bags, but with a two year old, went to try to find DriveOnHolidays. Eventually we found their representative who directed us to a queue in the car park. It was a hot day and the queue was in the open. Some of us found shade, while one held the place in the queue. We started to try to work out how long it would be - we guessed at about 90 minutes, we weren't that far wrong. The car hire garage is off site. There we joined another queue. So of those ahead of us had a row with the representative. I'm not surprised - the excess here is higher than on the RentalCars website, and the additional insurance only brought it down to €1000.00 - that's a lot of money. Still we eventually got the car, and tried to set the satnav to English. Finally one of the staff set it for us, but it couldn't make sense of the google co-ordinates I had, so we ended up using the phone.
We found the villa, the other half of the party had been there for ages.
1) If you have to rent two cars get them from the SAME supplier.
2) Never ever book cars through RentalCars.com. Really - NEVER.
3) Use a recognised company that you can deal with here if you need to.
4) Make sure the Rental Cars are available at or very near the Airport