We had been spending some time in Portugal, we had been living the life that I was longing for so badly! Driving the coast, enjoying the beaches and the waves. It could have been any coast in the world that made me feel like I was living life as it should be, but it was the coast of Portugal that made me feel alive. While wondering if this life would be the same in Asia, California or in Mexico we kept driving north.
Shortly after we left the beach behind we stopped for a bit of food in one of the many road bars/restaurants. It was a Sunday, which made the little bar full of locals mostly older man missing some teeth. It was not far passed midday but they were all enjoying beers for a while already. After we had a drink and some local pastry we got back to the van to find a big wet patch of cooling fluid underneath the van. To see where exactly the van was leaking we had to get to the engine. Getting to the engine never seemed to be a problem. First the bikes needed to come off, than all the stuff that was on the bed during driving, the bed it self needed to go. Under the bed there is the table, slackline and other fun stuff. After that we could finally open the engine compartment. This routine would be repeated endlessly in the coming week. The coolant reservoir was leaking from the coolant level sensor.
Tightening the sensor by screwing it in a bit more did the trick, I was sure! Getting everything back in the van we got going again. We were driving in the Setubal area just south under Lisbon. Just Seeing how far we got that day in the direction on Lisbon we were spending more time in the van than we had planned.
Before we headed out on this roadtrip we decided that we were not willing to take big highways and roads that we had to pay for. This ment we took way longer than any other car would. In order to get to Lisbon we had to travel around the big river outlets. These things conbined made sure we saw beautiful sights driving up north, Big nature reserves and endless slabs of lands where the trees had their bark pealed off. Not a whole lot of cars were taking these roads, more times than not the road in front of us was empty and looked like it was snaking over the hills in front of us.
It was aready getting later than we were used to while driving, we promised ourselves we would eat at the very first restaurant we saw. This was a treat because most of the time we cooked in the van and had to clean the dishes and all right after. Of course it took ages before we saw a restaurant until we passed by a place selling roasted chicken. We turned around to go and eat there, before we knew it we were served the chicken. HEAVENLY!!! I am not joking, that must have been the best piece of chicken in my life.
After a too good to be true dinner, we set off to the river side that appeared to be right behind the little town. It was already dark when we drove through the streets of a neglected neighborhood. Car wrecks everywhere, junkyard dogs following us jumping up to the van as we drove by slowly. After some driving around we parked out of reach of the dogs right up to the tidal part of the river. Some worn out boats lay in sight in the slow moving water. Looking around we left the van door open, and a whole army of mosquitos stayed over that night. This night must have been the worst of the whole trip, barking dogs through the whole night, the deep intense smell of the retreating river, an endless zoom of our sleep over guests and a garbage truck that seemed to back up to our van every hour or so. All this made sure we were awake to see the sunrise.
The sunrise was nothing like we had ever seen before. Far before the sun even showed itself the sky was orange pink, shining through the green trees far away, and through the blackened branches of burned down dead trees from where we parked. The water in the river had risen again and swirled around little islands in the river that were overgrown with high grass. Worn out boats with rotten wood filled up with water layed in the high grass as resting crocodilles. Kingfisher birds and dragonflies swarmed over the water. I honestly can not remember myself being so overtaken by the rising sun. I only stopped staring when the sun had risen all the way from behind the trees. After cleaning our shoes from the black ashes on the ground we set out to leave towards Lisbon early in the morning.
Before getting much closer to Lisbon the warning light of the coolant was blinking red again. Pulling over next to a car recycle company we did our “get to the engine routine” again. The coolant sensor was ripped because of the extra tension I put on it the day before. The big coincidence of breaking down next to a car recycle company did not do any good since the guard did not let me in, only Portuguese people could buy parts. We glued the sensor with some super glue. After it dried we installed it again and hoped for the best. We limped into Lisabon and broke down in front of a hardware store. Two-component glue did not do the job, a piece of PVC pipe forced on top of the sensor squeezed the sensor into the reservoir, fingers crossed! After 5 hours of trial and error we were on the road again.
Afraid to end up somewhere bad we settled on a camping, we booked for two nights giving ourselves some time to track down the needed part and to be able to see the city. That night I got in contact with Bruno Ferreira and Domingo Qaresma who are members of the VW Transporter T25/T3 Portugal facebook group. Believe it or not but they promised to be there the day after tomorrow to bring me the part I needed, as promised they arrived with the sensor 2 days after! Thanks again guys for making the T3 community super awesome! (sorry guys our pictures together were stolen from the van)
Two whole days of Lisbon is not close to being enough to see the city, we wondered the city for two days. Besides seeing the “normal sites” we always try to find little streets with character, and above all I love all the older cars and vans parked in every little corner of the city. The comforts of the camping were a welcome treat and when the dark fell the second day we met our helpers who brought more than just a sensor. Talking about t3’s for a while we installed the sensor. We were handed a T3 miniature that still sits on our dash. As a thank you we support RP garage with a sticker on our back bumper.
We set off in the night to find our next place to sleep!