Getting a Fix on Destiny

Moving down the coast a little we stopped at a Camping Aire just outside Sao Martinho do Porto



This is the classic beach resort seen in many postcards of Portugal so it was a must to see.

The beach was just 50 yards away from where we parked so we spent 4 days enjoying the weather sand and sea. We also had the Engine management light fault back with us, which was not causing any real problems apart from glaring on the Dash. So obviously our time in Test la Bouche was wasted, and we were just given “Lip service” from the French…






Then just for comparison reasons I wanted to see the lower lakes in Portugal, near a town called Avis


As we were looking at properties near the lakes close to Ferreia do Zezere I assumed the landscape would be just as nice 100 miles or so further South. 

Heading south towards Lisbon past Obidos and Bombarral, then over to Alenquer, going over the Rio Tejo

By 2pm a lunch stop was required so looking for a suitable place to eat and we decided to stop at the next Delta cafe we saw. Delta cafe’s are everywhere and seem to be quite newly fitted out and once you get beyond the often dark doorway not knowing what you could find behind we have always been pleasantly surprised with the food a drinks. We went over the river at Couche on the IC9 and stopped at the Delta Restaurante Pont Da Coroa, walked through a small bar in to an enormous room more than half full with Portuguese eating lunch.

We looked at the menu and frankly didn’t understand any of it but the waitress quickly realised we were disadvantaged ie: foreign and went to get a waiter who basically said “Fish or Chicken”…..

We have the drinks sorted with White wine and a small bber for the Driver so we plumped for the Chicken (Frango) which comes with Potatas and a salad.

The chicken is done a rotisserie, and they were doing about 12 at a time whilst we were there he did 2 lots and we were late for lunch at 2pm. It was fantastic! A great atmosphere, and after an hour we had polished off our chicken, tried a pudding which we took pot luck at as neither the waiter or ourselves could sort out what they were in a language all could understand, basically they use a lot of eggs. When it came to the bill its just 25 Euros, including the ½ litre of wine the Navigator needs for her nerves, beer and 2 coffees.

Returning to Destiny it’s about 32 Deg C in the shade, we can see why they all sit in a darkened room for lunch, we starts’ up and ? No power? Engine lumpy and wont rev above 900 rpm which is tickover.

Whoops? Doing the obvious thing, “Turn it off and on again” did the trick! And on we went on our way wondering what it was and will it happen again.

We didn’t stop until we got to Avis but then we needed more fuel so I pulled in and filled up, and of course started up and again no power? Again switch off, start up all Ok? Having no confidence we went to the Camp site, a great little place just by the lake, with fantastic views but felt somewhat disillusioned and jaded. Amanda couldn’t settle thinking we were now just limping with the van so I got to and looked for someone to see about fixing it.

Have you ever rang Spain? With no Spanish at my disposal I encountered a Switchboard of the nearest Fiat dealer (just over the boarder in Badajoz) I got 5 choices ( I can count to 5 in Spanish at least). Tried 1 listened to the next set of choices and thought if you don’t press any No you might get an operator. No.. you just get the message repeated ! So try 2 pretty much the same thing so I stab a Number on the keypad until someone picks up. There I’m talking to a real person so I ask if they can speak English. Thud… Back to the SW board.

Stab … Thud……Stab….Thud !!!!!!!!! Stab…..Thud ????!!!!! Stab……… gets a response Nada? Which I thinks means No, Not at all or something. So I feel perhaps we can do this on the Internet. I gets their website up and navigates to what I think is the Contacts page and finds a Facebook link! Great they can’t ignore this. I do a FB message in English Nada…. Then playing the game I do a FB message using Google translate in Spanish. Ha! ………..

Leaving the Spanish to do whatever they do in Spain, obviously they don’t fix cars or speak to the English. I set upon the Portuguese, who in Lisbon have some thing like a Motor City which services Fiat amongst other vehicles.

Again I tried the Phones but again came to a brick wall with the myriad of choices and stabbing at a few realised it’s pointless. So I found the website and again I got a Facebook link and again I posted a message on messenger this time with a Pic of the Engine management light. With no immediate response Amanda suggests, going back to Tomar as we know there a few Bosch service centres there and we also feel less “out in the wild” as Avis we have decided is a bit remote, a bit dry, dusty and if I was honest a little Barren apart of course from the endless Cork trees, Olive trees pigs and cows.

So after just one night in Avis we starts up, starts up (again?) and heads back the way we came towards first Lisbon, to give the Motor City a chance to answer our cry for help, then over the river up to Santarem on the E3 which is the Wine route up to Tomar, a very nice drive with lots to see if your in the mood. We arrived in Tomar and looked for a Camperstop in the Town and found this gem of a place, right in the middle, it’s the old municipal camp site which closed for Licence reasons but is “open” for just Campervans to stay for free!?


We found first a Bosch place in Ourem which we visited at 10.30am, they were very enthusiastic and asked if we can leave the Van with them for a while. Spoke very good English, so confidently we un hooked the bikes, left them with Destiny and rode in the Ourem for Lunch and a wait. And a wait. And a wait….. at 6pm I asked how we were doing, they had found the cause of the “No power fault” and fixed it, just all the Vacuum pipes had perished and were leaking on top of the engine. Also the system showed lots of ignition key errors which they could not sort, and of course our old engine management error which is the 2nd stage cooling fan and this was stumping them as well. They work til 9pm! So by then we got fed up and booked Destiny back in again on Monday as this was Saturday.

Monday we got there early and left the van, waited, did the laundry, waited, had some lunch (fish or meat), waited and saw that Destiny had not actually been taken in to the service bay.

So asking how they were getting on I basically got fobbed off with “We are too busy, can you leave it with us for longer?” this was now 6pm and I decided to call it a day the more problematic faults were ones they just didn’t have the enthusiasm for as most jobs were under an hour.

Feeling very despondent I paid the bill for the first repair, and some new windscreen wipers some 97 euros and shook hands and left it at that, with them saying bring it back when you can leave it with again for a day. As we live in the van the only way we can do this is a Hotel, which we were thinking of…

Getting back to Tomar, we saw a smal Bosch service centre not 400 yards from the Capmsite! Not as yet on Google maps. Next morning I rode up and spoke to a guy who listened, and with far too much confidence said bring it up Friday morning and he would sort it!

Friday morning I pulls Destiny in to the service bay (having learnt from previous visits) and get asked in Portuguese, what I am doing, Thinking the day isn’t going to go as planned I try to explain what I have arranged and get a smile and am asked to back out and wait for 10 mins.

In just 10 mins, the guy I spoke to earlier turns up books me in, takes my mobile No, after checking if he has to dial +44 first, and says “he will ring before lunch”, I sceptically say I will come up and see how he is getting on any way don’t bother to ring.

Amanda & I go out on the bikes to Tomar market which is busy and bustling and at 11.30 I don’t hear my phone ring.

We have coffee somewhere quieter, and I have a missed call from Bosch. It’s done!

I ride up, he very contentiously shows me the cause of the trouble ( a busted wire under the ABS unit going from the Control unit to the fans).Shows me the diagnostic check for errors None now! Before we had half a page…..

Looks a little sheepish as he asks for 113 Euros! ( 2 hours work a diagnostic and the new wire)

I thank him profusely pays the bill and drives away with a feeling of triumph! Could this be over!