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Report on talk by Oliver Balch on Portugal's National Highway EN2

"A Camper Van Adventure along Portugal's Route 66" (based on a Financial Times article). 


The first Porto BHSP talk of 2024 at the British Club was a real delight, attended by 39 members and guests, with 22 staying for dinner. Oliver Balch has a PhD in Latin American Studies from Cambridge University and is a freelance journalist and writer, contributing regular articles to Reuters, The Guardian, the Financial Times and The Times. Oliver has authored 3 books (published by Faber and Faber), and is currently writing a fourth, "Out of Amazonia", for another publisher. He lives with his family in Porto, when not on the move. 


This was more of "an illustrative experience accompanied by a talk", with an excellent hour-long Powerpoint presentation, including a video, in which Oliver described a 5-day camper van trip from north to south along the entire EN2, a distance of 729 km, accompanied by his father (who was the driver, while Oliver navigated). Only three other roads in the world stretch the entire length or width of a country, two in the USA, and Argentina´s National Route 40.


The talk accompanying the many illustrations was full of good humour, and described the interesting places on the route and just off it, together with historical detail and information. We are most grateful to Oliver for his entertaining contribution and most informative session, which all those present thoroughly enjoyed. Participants hoped he would talk to the Society again to inform us on one of the many other topics he is well-qualified to speak about.


Oliver Balch is on the right of the above photograph, together with Alan Dawber (BHSP Porto representative), who was ably assisted, as always, by Janice Bain (left) and Maria de Fátima Martins. Thanks are also due to João Lago and the staff of the British Club for helping to ensure a smooth running and successful evening, rounded off by a tasty meal and enjoyable conversation.