Posted by: Marco | March 6, 2011

May I see your documents, please?

Today, I paid cash to a cop. He told me I could pay him 25€ now or pay 125€ later. He had a little smile when he said this.  There were four of them and one of me. I paid the 25€, cash.


A GNR patrol car

It was inevitable. After about 9000 kms of driving in Europe, we were bound to have a little encounter with the law. In strange lands, with strange signs, narrow one-way roads and round-abouts, eventually I was going to run afoul of the law. Today, I committed a crime and the Portuguese GNR, the Guarda Nacional Republicana, saw me do it.


The scene of the crime: the Town of Aljezur, a former Moorish town near the Atlantic coast in the Algarve region. Aljezur is a quaint, sleepy little town, with ruins of a 12th century Moorish castle, an historic medieval centre, a shallow meandering river, a few shops, and an overzealous police force.

My crime: Upon seeing an available spot, I turned left into the parking lot of the local farmers’ market, right in full view of an oncoming GNR police car. I parked, exited the car, and faced my accuser, Officer Bondeco of the GNR. He was impeccably dressed from head to toe in the GNR uniform: the distinctive GNR cap, a crisp bomber-style forest green jacket, a pistol belt (with handcuffs and a whistle), grey trousers, and knee-high leather boots. He addressed me in Portuguese, but we quickly established that my Portuguese, although getting better, isn’t up to the task of talking to the authorities. He wasn’t selling me a bag of oranges, so I was out of my league.

“May I see your documents, please?”

“Is there a problem?”

“Yes, this is a do-no-enter. You must go around the building to enter the parking lot.”

“Oh, I see. I’m from Canada and…”

“You have the same sign in Canada, no?”


“Thank you for the documents. I’ll be back to tell you how you can pay the fine.”

“You’re actually going to ticket me for that?”


GNR officers discussing my fate!

And so for the next 15 minutes, while his three colleagues paced, smoked, and chatted, the polite, multi-lingual GNR officer, filled out the notificacão in triplicado. Young officer Bondeco showed me the Portuguese Highway Traffic Act and the paragraph that states a fine of 24.94€ is to be paid immediately, in cash. He stated that if I wished not to pay, and dispute it, the fine would climb to 124.94€. That’s when I decided to pay cash on the spot. I had to pay in exact change, so a quick run over to the farmers’ market was needed to break the 50€ bill I had. With some hand waving, some mispronounced Portuguese and a little Spanish, I got my point across. I paid my fine and then Officer Bondeco explained the legal way of entering and exiting the Farmers’ Market parking lot. I thanked him and he wished me a good day. Thankfully, neither the handcuffs nor the whistle had to be used.


I did a little research on the mission of the GNR. I found three entries that could pertain to my particular crime:

  • To maintain and re-establish the security of the citizens and of the public, private and co-operative property, preventing or repressing illegal acts committed against them; (umm…nope)
  • To collaborate in the control of all entries and exists pertaining to national and foreign citizens and goods into and out of the national territory; (I don’t think that applies)
  • To veil for the execution of the laws and dispositions in general, namely those related to the terrestrial traffic and highway transportations; (hum, maybe)

I think it was just a slow day in Aljezur. As I walked back towards my grinning family, I thought: “I’m 25€ poorer, but I’m one blog richer.”

Carpe annum,


PICTURES of Aljezur can be found HERE.

For more PHOTOS of our Portugal trip CLICK HERE.

The culprit turned left into the busy parking lot!!





  2. The lesson to be learned is this: No matter what country you are in, try to refrain from committing illegal left turns right in front of a cop car!

    • It wasn’t an illegal left turn…I just did a little early. Anyway, it was Shannon’s fault she told me to turn there. 🙂

  3. I would have made an illegal turn for food as well….


  4. Going by the map you sent, we are shocked that you would attempt such a flagrant flaunting of Portuguese traffic law.

    • I should really have been locked up.

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