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If the train doesn’t get a flat tire…

“A quarter to seven at Bifurcação then… just look,” I point out, “otherwise you won’t be there on time, because you also have to allow an hour for the metro.” Broes looks a bit down. He had found a nice ticket, flying at one o’clock, arriving at half past three dutch time, absolutely ideal.

By train or by car to the airport – what’ll it be?

The train is better for the planet, but it takes more time. Our footprint is a baby’s foot when it comes to flying; only a little bigger when it comes to driving. Flying back and forth to the mother country once a year, that’s not too bad, isn’t it? This time he goes alone to visit his father and brother. I stay home, because I have to look after the chickens and Mira, and guard the fort.

Broes is a night owl, and often only falls asleep in the middle of the night – whether he goes to bed early or not. That is survivable, but hey, if it can be done easily… “How about the car then?” he asks kindly, and well, it’ll save at least two hours, so okay then. “But please check the oil and water?” I also ask kindly and the next day it turns out to have been an inspiration from the gods.

“Quite a bit of coolant went into it yesterday, so I just had a look, but now it seems empty again,” Broes reports. Half an hour before departure, little time to study this in detail. During my long life I have made all kinds of car maintenance mistakes, including running without water twice (!), and it has never resulted in anything nice. A nice story in retrospect, yes. But that’s all.

Water is an essential ingredient for a car, just like oil.

We schlepping Hugo in, an expert in the field of computers and cars. Great, such a handy resident foster son! He starts the car, loosens the cap, lets it race a bit, and then says: “No way that you’re going to get to Porto with this car. Don’t drive it, there’s something very wrong, it leaks, can’t see where.”

Thunder and lightning! Immediate action required!

“Take a quick look to see if there is still a train option!” I shout over my shoulder

“Then I’ll ask if we can borrow Paddy’s car to get you to the station! Maybe we can do it from Coimbra or Aveiro!” I run to neighbor Paddy, who of course agrees that we borrow the car, and doesn’t even mind having a chaotic explanation thrown at his sleepy head.

On the way to Coimbra, near Soure, it is clear that we will never make it. It has started to rain, and not just a little. The clouds were already down to the ground this morning, and despite this the weather gods still managed to bring down quite a few downpours. Apparently we are dealing with a double cloud cover. Visibility is already poor, so everyone drives slowly, on a one-way-lane.

“What now?” Broes asks “should we continue to Porto then? Give Paddy a call and see if that’s okay?” Our sweet neighbor thinks it’s fine and gives some useful tips, because his car is about the same age as ours: an impressive 22 years. “It will need some diesel, it was almost empty. And don’t worry about the lights on the dashboard,” he says, “there’s a broken sensor or something.”

Yes, we know that one. Ours says there’s something wrong with the airbag, or the airbag doesn’t shield babies in the front seats – I think, I’m not sure because I’m not very familiar with car jargon. And it is an orange light, so you don’t have to take it too seriously according to Hugo, and he should know. We solved the problem during the annual inspection by removing the fuse. Then the lights are off, nothing is wrong, approved.

The fuse can go back in, and we just continue to stubbornly ignore it

These are just things from an older car. The soft head of the gear lever is attached with duct tape, the knob of the exterior mirror has broken off, the sun visor has been ingeniously reattached, and there are a few more little things that you can live with if you know that it is not serious. is. The motto is to continue driving your petrol car for as long as possible, because before too long we will all have to go electric.

The question remains whether thát is feasible.

Whatever else is decided in that area; whatever, but one will have to oblige because the train won’t get us where we want to go

Whether it’ll bring the desired salvation is also the question, because along the way I see several brand new cars along the side of the highway. Fluid in the lungs probably, or anxious sensors, because the weather is getting rougher. Heavy rain, strong wind, poor visibility, only the truckers just keep driving and push you aside if they think you’re going too slow.

This oldie doesn’t have much pulling power, but apparently it does have a loyal character. It’s chaos on the ring road near Porto, and everyone drives at a walking pace. Fortunately, because another one has given up, in the middle lane, believe it or not. I see it last minute (= split second), and we can pass. Poor Senhora, image it happens to you.

It happens again, at the entrance to the airport. No emergency lane, only two lanes, and suddenly a brand new car with the hazard lights on. All I can do is brake, but in my rear view mirror I see a very large,, very white, very new truck approaching. “Let it also have good brakes” just crossed my mind, and luckily, it had.

Otherwise we might very well have regretted that Broes had not taken the train!


A big step, especially with two small children.

We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday houses, rooms and a campsite.

You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

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