Mon 25/07/16: Feast Day of Santiago. So the night before lots of fireworks again in the main town. We were planning to go
but somehow just didn’t make it, but we watched from a far and spectacular they were. The Monday again lots going on in the main square and all around the cathedral as the locals celebrated their Saints Days with mass and various family feasts whilst the ‘Caminos’ trudged on in after either 2000 or 200k- either way a personal triumph. Not quite sure why they have to collapse onto the ground in front of the cathedral, flat out taking all the space away from us normal tourists and locals but….. I’m less than charitable about some of the reasons as to why people undertake this walk. Apparently in a survey taken at the end the majority still say it’s for religious reasons. However, for us who have driven the route and only walked the 3k or so into town the day was spent happily wandering around before heading back to our camp site and having a lovely steak cooked with pepper mushroom sauce. A lovely change after 2 nights of mass produced chain food.
Tues 26/07/16: Busy check out time at site and lots of manoeuvring to get to ‘poo perch’ and fill up with water etc before we hit the road heading further inland to meet my eldest brother and family in a rural location near Leon. We were going to break the journey up with a stop at more natural thermals
baths in the city of Ourense. The choice of overnight locations was either by a cement factory or a slaughter house before we looked again at another stop over book we have called Espana Discovery. This covers slightly unusual places like vineyards that the owners might have offered up a couple of places on etc. By chance and thankfully not wishing for either cement or slaughter we actually found a spa place that said it housed 6 motorhome spots- not facilities just overnight parking and so off we went. A lovely drive as norm up down round and round before we turned a sharp right under a bridge and saw before us a beautiful fast flowing river with a lovely low rise spa and hotel complex- nothing else other than some row boats and river sidewalks. Uhm were they really going to let us park here in the car park alongside the paying guests. In we trundled book in hand with the picture etc to verify our statement. After a bit of back office chat and the very big hand book being consulted they indeed said yes we could park there- happy days. A lovely walk was had along the rover and a debate over whether to have a thermal that evening or the next morning. Practicalities took over and we opted for first thing the next morning-saves on our water and it’s a proper wash and shower. Dinner in the car park with temperatures at 35+ was a light affair of cold sausages, tuna, potatoes etc.
Wed 27/07/16: After a lovely swim and baths we headed off on a green route again through the mountains with breath taking drops and twists adding a bit longer to the journey than we thought but we made it to our destination before big brother arriving into Asturias airport from the UK. The location was in the mountains at a place called Las Medulas. Ancient Roman gold mines that once served as the source of all the gold for the Roman Empire. The result now a ‘singularly unnatural natural phenomenon bizarre landscape’ best seen at sunset. We to also make the most of our time with David, Chris and Claire had also booked into a small casa rural called Casa Louteiro just by the viewing point. The climb in was amazing and the views out equally, the casa a series of
converted mining or farmers cottages that can only be described as eclectic and quaint. After our hugs, greetings and catch up we ate locally and for me and Chris lovely locally grown mushrooms run through scrambled eggs. Thankfully for all the first meal didn’t disappoint
Thurs 28/07/6: Amazing breakfast out on the terrace overlooking the vast vista of mountains beyond in very hot temperatures of 30+ before we headed off back up to the coast and again another phenomenon called Cathedral Beach- the reason being that the rocks now look like a series of arches forming a cathedral. What was probably more amazing was the number of people on the beach – unusually it’s a ticketed beach with only 4,810 tickets a day allowed so the numbers all trying to get that magic picture were as spectacular as the rock formations themselves. We cut the lunchtime food option very tight arriving at after 3.30 but a lovely lunch of mainly grilled prawns was had with some very tasty fish croquettes- the ever popular little packets of taste. A late arrival at the nearby working town of Ponferrada brought an amazing discovery of the most wonderful steaks for brother David and David. It was rated as number 2 in the town on trip advisor and as a steak house. Number one was firmly shut and the steak house from the outside didn’t look that promising but at 10pm and gone with temperatures still over 30 wandering around wasn’t really an option, and good old ‘never judge a book by its cover’ Spain didn’t disappoint with both D’s saying it was some of the best steak either had tasted, plus lovely red local wine to boot
Fri 29/07/16: A more local day was to be had today after the many km’s we had done yesterday so off to the town of Astorga. Oddly known for its chocolate production since the 18th and 19th century and now home to the Museo del Chocolate- everyone’s favourite. It is a delightful museum small, simple and fairly priced at €2.50 each with a chocolate tasting at the end. Reason why the chocolate was produced here all those years ago- money, the town housing many priesthoods, churches etc, location for the cocoa coming into the coast and the man with the idea falling in love with a local girl So production was set up in this small town and still continues to be till this day. A lovely pinchos lunch was had with the popular choice being again the local mushrooms (on toast- pinchos!).
Sat 30/07/16: Check out day and it ended again with a lovely breakfast and the final cake was walnut. Thus far with each breakfast we had cake- chocolate, lemon drizzle and now walnut all being so light and delicate in texture and taste plus all made by our wonderful hippy host. Absolutely a wonderful start to the day along with the breads and homemade preserves, we were all wondering whether some other ‘magic’ might have been added to the cakes as well!!. Back up to the airport for a later departure and with it being a tale of the Hare and the Tortoise we opted not to try and follow each other and just meet in another pretty village of Cudillero just near the airport. The tortoise made it before the hare but with no stops and so after a bizarre weather change through a 4k tunnel in the Picos Mountains we went from sun, 35 to grey, 19 and rain to arrive in this lovely very Devon/Cornwall like sea side town. A stunning lunch of fish or shell food was had by all – mine being bonita (tuna) cooked in an amazing sweetish onion sauce and hake being opted for by the 2 D’s each a different cut and cooked differently. The seafood paella was also a hit with Chris and Claire so a lovely end food wise to the trip. For us a short drive in the grey to a local Aire in Oviedo while we work out our next few days plan and a late end back home for David, Chris and Claire back into the UK. Bye, big thanks for coming.
Sun 31/07/16: Wet start still, but onwards we must go with the north come what the weather might throw at us. It is the north and the Picos de Europa Mountains keep the weather here very wet and UK like even in summer. Bear hunting we are off to, heading not far north west of Oviedo to Entrago and the Senda Del Oso- the bear trail. The area is stunning along rivers with gorges, mountains etc and the highest population of bears in Europe, numbers still low and endangered. A lovely free aire at the start of the trail packed with cyclists and walkers alike. Thus far no bears seen (other than those on board) but there again not sure how many you might see in a local bar, but fun we did have with a machine sidreria as opposed to the human waiter sidreria. The big 50k cycle will be made tomorrow and so we have put the call out for all bears to be on route for tomorrow.
Watch this space………………….