Afonso and his 1988 Volkswagen Golf have visited over 30 international locations within the final 3 years – NiT

Be in good situation, with a number of miles, no seen injury and be comfy. When shopping for a used automotive, you must double your consideration and these are often sought-after options. However not for Afonso Mendonca.

The 24-year-old tells us that whereas looking out on OLX, he got here throughout Milhas, who was alleged to be his devoted journey companion. “I particularly appreciated the colour, which was turquoise,” she confesses. It was a 1988 Volkswagen Golf and was “moderately priced for the situation it was in”. Since seeing it, he says he hasn’t “let it go”.

“I purchased it as a second automotive as a result of I all the time wished an older mannequin, however this one wasn’t within the plans.” Whereas the outside appeared good, not all the pieces was one hundred pc. “It had enormous oil leaks, first gear, third and reverse all hit what appeared to be the identical place, and in case you accelerated a little bit extra there was a small explosion and one of many cylinders stopped working. It value 1,600 euros, you’ll be able to’t ask an excessive amount of.”

Regularly, Afonso – who moved from Virtudes (a village within the municipality of Azambuja) to Póvoa Velha (Serra da Estrela) on the age of 9 – repaired the automotive. As the scholar of the time turned a greater mechanic and understood how his automobile labored, the mannequin turned “kind of dependable.”

The assistant director tells NiT that the concept for touring got here from the household. Accustomed to touring round Europe by automotive, he says that as quickly as he turned autonomous and had his first automotive, he made a number of quick journeys. “After I was on a aircraft, I all the time did my greatest to go to the window, watching the 1000’s of miles that separated me from dwelling and my closing vacation spot. The journey will change all the pieces. It is not the vacation spot that issues, it is the journey that counts.“, guarantee.

In 2019, when he was in his second yr of research, the chance arose to make his first main journey. Since all the pieces was deliberate for an Erasmus journey with three mates, he determined to shock them by suggesting that they go by automotive as an alternative of by aircraft.

“At that time, I had Milhas for half a yr, however he was removed from going to Budapest, which was our aim.” Opposite to what one would possibly count on, this solely made the younger man from Serra extra keen to simply accept him. In any case, “it would not be an journey if there wasn’t a minimum of some danger of one thing going improper.”

The journey took 5 days, and there have been a number of mishaps in between. It began proper on the Spanish border, the place they needed to cease to dismantle some components and forestall the wheels from rubbing towards the within of the fender. Nonetheless, it was in Monaco that what’s described as one of many funniest moments of this journey befell. “Amongst Ferraris and Lamborghinis, in one of the crucial luxurious cities on the earth, our exhaust blew as we drove over the pace bump. Nevertheless it was straightforward to place it again in place.”

Genoa, Milan, Venice, Ljubljana, Zagreb: towards all expectations, Milhas lastly arrived in Budapest. And it did not finish there. Throughout his months of examine overseas, Afonso took the chance to get to know different international locations in Hungary. And naturally, because the Milhas was a undertaking automotive, it nonetheless had some points. Between changing bearings with primary instruments and in search of assist for 2 days in a metropolis with sub-zero temperatures, Afonso Mendonça managed to go to a number of extra factors.

Six months later, this system was over, however not the will to journey by automotive. He traveled by way of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, in addition to by way of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. “I believe it was successful,” he says confidently. He wasn’t so certain when he crashed behind a pickup truck in Latvia.

Sure, that was the toughest second for me. This time I believed Milhas would cease there. However when the police arrived, I used to be capable of dismantle and reassemble the board, permitting us to return to Portugal, regardless of the deep scars it left behind.”

Bloopers and outdated adventures, the younger man says he would not change something that occurred. “As a result of it is the worst conditions that provide the greatest tales, reminiscences, and emotions of defeat,” he provides.

Three years after his first main expedition, Milhas, on the age of 35, has already traveled by way of 31 international locations. And if it occurred to him with 4 or 5 passengers, Afonso confesses that on longer journeys he prefers to stroll alone or within the firm of 1 individual to have a spot to place his mattress. The preparation is just not tough and doesn’t give a lot meals for thought.

“Mechanically, I all the time attempt to make him as ready as doable, so I am not nervous about that. More often than not I alter my rims and tires to greater and extra brushed ones which avoids so many punctures and helps if I’ve to go off-road. Then I additionally take away the again seat to make room for the mattress, which is nothing greater than two boards linked by hinges,” explains the adventurer.

Milhas’s lover admits that he spent extra money on his upkeep than he initially gave for them. For instance, after an accident in Latvia, he returned to Portugal and utterly stripped it, cleaned the sheet steel of rust and imperfections and had it painted. Together with extra superior mechanics that Afonso couldn’t carry out, the invoice shall be near 4,000 euros.

“However now it is beginning to get to the purpose the place it is all arrange and does not require as a lot upkeep. For instance, on a latest journey by way of the Balkans to Greece, there was not a single downside. It is like wine, the older it will get, the higher it will get.”

With the formidable dream of placing Milhas in a container to the east coast of the US and making Route 66 to California, Afonso does not overlook about his favourite journey: the one which handed by way of Norway. A satisfied lover of nature and the mountains, he admits that the terrifying landscapes and roads he handed carry a smile to his face at each kilometer. As well as, he managed to cross a number of locations he most wished to go to from his checklist: Mont Saint-Michel (in France), Giethoorn (within the Netherlands), Pulpit Rock (in Norway) and went so far as the Arctic Circle to Norway’s nationwide mountain, Stetind.

“I’ve additionally ridden two of probably the most lovely roads on the earth, Trollstigen and Atlantic Street. I nonetheless had surprises with locations that I didn’t count on a lot and that shocked me, as within the case of Tallinn and Warsaw. I could not ask for something extra on this journey,” he assures.

Afonso, admittedly hooked on this lifetime of discovery – who spoke to NiT on his option to the Picos de Europa – could not finish the interview with out revealing that whereas he is keen about Milhas, there are locations he’ll discover it tough to take him. That is why – and in addition as a result of he nonetheless has “room in my coronary heart for an additional outdated automotive” – he lately purchased a 1983 Datsun Bluebird station wagon.

“I modified it right into a small campervan and the subsequent tip shall be in all of it the best way to Morocco. For Milhas, the subsequent massive journey will most likely be the North Coast 500 in Scotland, which has been deliberate for a while, he concludes.

Click on by way of the gallery to find a number of the locations the place Afonso and Milhas – the automotive with 425,000 kilometers on it – have pushed over the three years.

see the gallery


Miles generally takes a number of passengers.

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