Chaves, a Breakdown and a New Battery

Leaving Izeda, our next destination was the large town of Chaves. Situated in the far north of Portugal – close to the Spanish border – it was to be our departure point from Portugal.

It’s about 60 miles by the easiest route from Izeda to Chaves – but we were taking the scenic route, as we had time on our hands and a yearning for good views. Our route took us up towards Braganca and along the N103, which runs along the southern edge of the Parque Natural de Montesinho. This proved suitably scenic and the day progressed very pleasantly – albeit rather wetly. We had heavy rain for much of the journey, although visibility wasn’t too bad for driving or for enjoying the views:

Some things can't be rushed...
Some things can't be rushed...
Parque Natural de Montesinho
Parque Natural de Montesinho - not at its best
More of the Montesinho Natural Park, still not at its best
More of the Montesinho Natural Park, still not at its best

Driving into Chaves, we started looking for a likely place in which to spend the night. We had heard that there was a car park close to the river and the town’s spa, in which motorhomes could spend the night legally and unmolested. While looking for this (still in the rain), we pulled off the road at a roundabout to have a look at the maps.

Uncharacteristically for me, I switched the engine off – I wouldn’t normally bother for a map stop – and when I came to switch it on, nothing happened, other than a half-hearted, sporadic clicking of relays. It seemed – and later transpired – that my van’s battery had moved on to the great scrapyard in the sky.

For the second time ever, I had cause to call on the AA European Breakdown service. Once again, I was singularly impressed by how good it is. Within half an hour, a recovery truck was with us and we got taken to a local garage. There, our van was looked at immediately and, in due course, a faulty battery was diagnosed and a new one fitted. The price of the new battery was fair and we were treated very well and on our way within a couple of hours of the time we broke down.

I simply can’t recommend AA European Breakdown Cover highly enough – based on two personal experiences, one in Spain and one in Portugal.

After this, we did find the car park we were looking for in Chaves and it was suitable for overnight parking – so we did, along with three other motorhomes. There’s a good and very reasonably priced Chinese restaurant within 10 minutes walk of the car park – another reason to spend the night!

Grand Chaves...
Grand Chaves...
Old town Chaves...
...Old town Chaves...
...Park Chaves...
...Park Chaves...
...Fort Chaves (now a posh hotel)
...Fort Chaves (now a posh hotel)

Distance driven: 94 miles (plus a few on the back of a recovery truck…)

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