Saturday, 19 March 2016

About Half Way Across the North Coast of Spain (part 2)

About Half Way Across the North Coast of Spain (part 2)

Saturday 12th March 2016

Today was another moving day - this time on to Foz - apparently there are 3 Foz’s - one in Portugal and one in Brazil,  but we were heading for the one in Northern Spain!  Our journey was to be another 100 kilometres or so, but the time passed quickly because mostly the roads were quite good, and it was another picturesque drive with beautiful coastal vistas of craggy shorelines opening up regularly as we topped the many hills.  And then came a little surprise! The T4rdis must have decided that we needed a tea break because all of a sudden we were turning left into a very narrow lane that led down to a tiny cove.  As we zoomed down the lane, with our wheels touching the grass verge on both sides we prayed we wouldn't meet any oncoming traffic, and luckily we didn’t.  Then, after about 2 kilometres, we were reward  with a lovely little deserted beach that provided a splendid place for our break.

Once back on the main road we soon reached our destination - another orange banner Aire that overlooks a river estuary, and then has unrestricted views out to sea.  When we arrived we parked up with several other vans on the sea wall and sat and ate our lunch while we admired the lovely views from the T4rdis’s windows.    

The tide was right out so there was only a little river of water running through the estuary and then lovely white sandbanks in the rest of the basin. However, the tide soon came racing in and completely filled the area, and as it was quite windy, the little wavelets were lapping up the sea wall just a few metres away form our tyres - and the icing on the cake - it’s free so we'll be staying for 2 or 3 days.

Eventually, when we'd drank in the view for a couple of hours, we decided we'd go for a walk, but as usual on this part of the coast, along with the lovely sunshine came a howling wind.  We wrapped up and headed off towards the little Marina where we found a raised walkway that headed out over the beach and continued into the ocean for about 100 metres - it looked a lovely place to walk so off we went.   

All was well until we got very near to the end - then a large rogue  wave roared up into the air and splattered down on us - it didn’t quite wet us through but it did cause us to take a deep breath as the cold sea water pattered down from a great height!

Sunday 13th March 2016

Now, on Sunday mornings we usually treat ourselves to smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, but this morning we decided to try something different - Octo-pus testicles tentacles and scrambled eggs (John says an 8 legged cat!).  It wasn’t bad, but the suckers were a bit chewy - (wouldn't have been your cup of tea Sharon!)

Thus fortified, we set off for a walk. From our little reccky yesterday we knew there were long distance coastal paths in both directions, so this morning from our door we turned left, and tomorrow we will go right.  Happily, it was another lovely sunny day but the wind was still gusting so it was quite deceptively cool - I think John was asking these chaps if they’d seen the weather forecast!

Right from the word go we were walking on paved coastal path that was well supplied with view points and benches, and because the going was so easy, all our attention was given to the lovely wild Atlantic vistas that were the main feature of this walk.

We walked for about 16 kilometres in all, there and back, and on the way back we were lucky enough to have the company of a kestrel who hovered and swooped while searching for a snack, and when he’d gone we were also entertained by the small birds!  They reminded us of the old nursery rhyme ‘Two Little Dickie Birds Sitting on a Wall’, but rather than ‘flying away’ it looked as if they’d been hurled by a very strong hand!

Monday 14th March 2016

Today was the day to turn right from the T4rdis’s door, and although it was a pleasant walk, it certainly didn’t have the wow factor of yesterday.  I suppose that was because we were mainly walking around the estuary inlet, and as the tide was out our views were mainly of muddy bottoms!

However, once again the way was well signposted and either on purpose built track or very quite roads, but after about 5 kms we did deviate from the set route because we wanted to visit a little headland that was just across the water from our parking spot.  We paused here for coffee and got chatting to an elderly Spanish lady - well, we didn’t but she did - she didn’t seem to grasp that we couldn't understand a word she said - but she seemed quite happy talking to us because she kept smiling!

From here we were soon back on track, and although this was far from being the best walk we've had recently, in  it’s own way it was still quite rewarding.  We spotted herons wading in the shallow waters looking for lunch, we watched numerous butterfly's of many different shades and colours, there were loads of wild flowers just coming into bloom, and we also had the pleasure of walking through several forests of closely packed eucalyptus trees where there aroma permeated the air with it’s very pleasant smell.  On the other hand, the track followed the main road for a couple of kilometres so we had roaring traffic to listen to, and could we find anywhere to sit and eat our picnic - NO!  We kept suggesting ‘lets just go a bit further’ but still no luck, and in the end we had to backtrack to our earlier coffee spot where the wind tried to whip the lettuce out of our sandwiches, but by this time we were so hungry we sat with our backs to it and ignored it.   Then we set off back to the T4rdis and when we arrived we decided we'd walked over 21 kilometres, so we were quite weary and well and truly ready to put our feet up.

Tuesday 15th March 2016

This morning we left our idyllic spot at FOZ, but found several more as we went on our way. This part of Spain’s North Atlantic coast is stunning and it is dotted with so many free Aires that either overlook the sea or that are only a stone’s throw from it, you’re really spoilt for choice.

We stopped at another Aire at Tapia de Casariego - this one didn’t have an orange banner in the Aire’s book, but we thought that was a bit of an injustice!  We had coffee and then went for a stroll - again on purpose built cliff top path that looked down over a little sandy bay, and it was here that we spotted children practising throwing the javelin - maybe it’s Sports Day soon!

We walked a little further and found this sea water swimming pool, and then came another lighthouse and memorials to commemorate how the threat of piracy was opposed in times gone by.  

Then it was time to move on to our parking spot for tonight - this time a small cliff top Aire at Ortiguera - another stunning spot.  We’re peached high above a little cove - left from our door leads to two light houses - the old one had a light that would reach for 10 miles, and an ancient iron bell at it’s side that used to be rang on foggy days.  But, this was superseded by the new one in 1975 and that one's light can be seen for 20 miles.

John with a 'Daddy memory' - A Clanger! 

By turning right from our door the cove can be accessed via a path and stairway - 280 steps later - (I know cos I counted), we were standing on the beach, and it was here that we had the pleasure of watching the tide turn.  From little lapping waves the Atlantic started to throw up great frothing plumes of water that raced up the beach - we made a line of stones to see how fast it was moving and in the 20 or so minuets we were there it advanced by about 10 metres and it eventually crossed our line!

Wednesday 16th March 2016

Forwards and onwards - this morning we had decided that our bikes needed to be used again (after a 5 week lay-off), so we aimed the T4rdis at an Aire at Teverga which is up in the mountains and that has bike trails running straight from it’s gate.  Our journey was  quite long - about 140kms, but quite a bit was on motorway so it passed quickly. Then the last part was up through a lovely gorge that required us to nip through several tunnels and along a roadway that clung to a rushing river’s side - so that made up for the boring bit.  And during this part of our journey we were treated to views of snowy mountain tops, the melt from which had swollen the river so that it gushed in torrents of white water as it went.

We arrived around 2ish, so rather than getting the bikes off today we decided to leave it and make a full day out tomorrow, so in the late afternoon we settled for just a walk.  We set off on a marked trail from the Aire and  we certainly didn’t expect to pass through Las Vegas - but we did, however, we never did find the Casinos!

Thursday 17th March 2016

Well, today was the day for our first ride since the beginning of February, so because it had been such a  long time, and because our ‘new’ bikes aren't quite fully customised to our standard, we decided we would probably only go about 30kms! (our faithful previous Scott Bikes, on which we'd ridden many miles, and often with very special friends had been stolen just before Christmas).  

So to get us on our way John unhooked our new bikes from the back of the T4rdis, oiled the slightly rusty chains and pumped up the tyres - and we were off along the purpose built trail that would eventually branch out in several directions and which followed the gorge that we had driven up yesterday.  

The surface we were cycling on was fairly good and the sun was shining, and for the first 10k we were rolling downhill through several  dark spooky tunnels, and with the rushing river Turbia for company!  Then came 5 more kms of gradual ascent, but the going was still fairly easy, so by the time we'd done half of what we intended it was still only coffee time, which we consumed beside a lovely lake.  Then we decided to go a bit further - this turned out to be another 10kms - along similar trail with lovely views around every corner, but by now, I was starting to ache and I was missing my well tuned Scott, and although John says he prefers his new bike, I think even he was starting to miss his favourite Brooks Saddle.  

Therefore, our return journey wasn’t quite so comfortable, and we still had the 10kms uphill bit to go before we made it back to the T4rdis.  John achieved much of this by peddling in a standing position while I contented myself with occasionally moaning about various aches and pains that are much to delicate to mention in a public forum!  I think in the near future, when we go for a ride, we'll be sticking to our planned distance, and as soon as we get back to England we'll be replacing some of our lost gear!

Friday 18th March 2016

We’re now on an Aire down in Gijon - a coastal city that provides a motorhome camping spot with a lovely sea view, but having said that, its quite an industrialised area and near a main road!  The night had been a bit noisy, but this morning the sun was shining again so our picnic was soon packed and we set off for a walk with a plan to follow the coast for about 5kms.  This led us along several wide promenades, through a marina, and eventually onto a very windy old Battery Site which was somewhat marred by graffiti. 

Along the way we also found this novel way of recycling old wine bottles - 3200 of them altogether - we thought it looked on a bit of a 'wonk', or maybe it was just tipsy!

From there, our main concern was to find somewhere sheltered to eat our picnic, and this we did in the form of a pretty park -  Parque de Isabel la Catolica.  However, by the time we returned to the T4rdis we'd done it again - gone quite a bit further than intended - but at least we hadn't needed to use the same muscles as yesterday - and it hadn't required us to sit for long periods!

Once back in the T4rdis we still had quite a lot of the afternoon to pass, but happily this was assisted by some new neighbours who gave us a knock.  They were a Scottish couple from Arbroath who also had an Autotrail van which they had recently purchased from Brownhill’s in Newark.  We invited them in for a cuppa and spent the next hour or so comparing notes and suggesting to them some of the lovely places they should visit on their journey South.

We ended our evening with another culinary adventure - this time purple potatoes! The Spanish call them Vitelotte - 'Deluxe' from Lidl, and the label says they supposed to be very good for you! We had them with a fish supper - not bad but maybe I won't indulge again!

Gijon was ok but no real WOW factor for us so we'll be moving on again tomorrow - destination to be decided later - maybe with the help of a wee dram!

Click here to see our Spanish camping spots

About Half Way Across the North Coast of Spain! (part 1)

About Half Way Across the North Coast of Spain! (part 1)

Tuesday 8th March 2016

Happy birthday Louise xx

Well, as planed for today we visited Fisterra - the most westerly point in Spain, but rather than the town itself, we were heading for the rocky outcrop and the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula.  This was partly because a ‘little bird’ had told us to be careful of the very narrow streets in that town, but they didn’t get in our way cos we only really flitted through, and then continued on our way, (a further 2 kms) up a narrow winding road that led us to our destination. 

And this was another treat - we landed (on a wonk) on the headland amongst the free roaming goats, and were the waves crashed into the rocks below us sending up plumes of spray that left a salty taste in the air.  

John at the End of the Earth!

Apparently, many years ago, before Christopher Columbus's time, people regarded this point as the end of the earth and this is where the name is derived from - It used to be called Finister - Finis (end)  and terra (ground)   

Fisterra Lighthouse

I did wonder if I could borrow these to help with John's hearing problem (one of his hearing aids is broke), but I couldn't quite reach to get them down!

We'd half planned to stay and wild-camp for the night, but for want of levelish ground we gave it up as a bad job - requiring us to head back the way we'd come to an Aire at Carnota.  In the book it’s described as being located on a beach road amongst pine trees, and this is where we found it, but rather than stop at the actual Aire we decided to continue on to the end of the road - just to see where it went.  It terminated at a white sand beach with huge boulders on century duty at it’s shore, and although it  was a lonely spot,  so was the Aire - but this had better views so we put down our roots and claimed the spot as ours for the night!

Wednesday 9th March 2016

During the night I thought we might get washed away - not by the sea but by the torrential rain that fell more or less continuously all night long, but when we woke got up we hadn't moved an inch, and apart form a few big puddles outside the door we were fine.  Happily, while we ate our breakfast pancakes, the rain stopped and the sun glimmered out - and that more or less set the stage for the rest of the day.  

Our journey today was to be about 100 kms, some of which was over mountainous roads, and if it hadn't been for the hills we might have thought we were in Holland - I don’t think we've ever seen so many windmills­čśü!

We stopped and replenished our supplies at Carballo (Lidl of course), and then continued on our way to an Aire at A-Coruna which has an orange banner in our Aires book (denoting it as excellent). Now, it well and truly deserves this accolade for it’s views over a little harbour and then out to sea with it’s rocky craggy shore line, but the actual parking area is on cobbles that camber away in 2 directions - making it absolutely impossible to get level - I think the T4rdis is getting used to sleeping on a ‘wonk’ and we’re getting used to the blood rushing to our feet!

Anyway, we had a late lunch - or was that an early tea - and then went for a walk partway around the Paseo Maritimo - a seafront promenade that surrounds the peninsula.  The far reaching sea views from here were spectacular as the ever angry Atlantic waves surged up over the rocks and threw their foam high into the air.
We were also treated to distant views of Torre de Hercules - a Roman lighthouse -  Apparently it's the oldest lighthouse in the world that is still in use.

Additionally, other interesting things to visit along the way also include the ‘elevator’ and the Millennium monument

However, our aim for today was to walk up to the Battery that sits on the headland above the city of A-Coruna, and to get there our choice was to either take the ‘elevator’ or walk up the very long hill.  So, in order to save 6 euros, and because we felt we needed the exercise we chose to walk - which we did quite briskly - so by the time we got to the top we were both huffing and puffing slightly (me a lot) - but the sights we saw when we got there made it well worth the effort.

Then it was back home to our wonky T4rdis - feet up, beer out and time to sit and admire the amazing views form our windscreen.

Coming back from Narnia.........?

John trying to throw him back - but he wouldn't let go!

Thursday 10th March 2016

Casa del Hombre - Think he needs a fig leaf!
After our brief views of the old lighthouse yesterday, we decided to get close up and personnel, and visit it properly today - a walk we thought of about 8 miles, but in the end it turned out to be much further.  We set off by retracing our steps from yesterday along the Paseo Maritimo, and again we passed the elevator and the Millennium Monument, and from there we continued on past Orzan and Riazor beaches (both fine white sand), and then further towards Casa del Hombre and Aquarium Finisterrae. 

And after that we left the built up areas behind and entered the green parkland of the lighthouse and further on, a sculpture park.

We paused for lunch under the lofty heights of the lighthouse, and it was here that we read the mythical story of how it acquired it’s name.  Apparently in Roman times it was the Tower of Brigantia, and during the Middle Ages it was simply The Lighthouse.  However, the legend tells how an infamous king treated his subjects so cruelly that they begged Hercules for his help, offering him their lands in payment.  Hercules agreed and for three days the two opponents fought for possession of the area, and in the end Hercules beheaded Geryon the Giant and decreed that a great tower be built upon his skull - and since then the  lighthouse has been known as The Tower of Hercules!

It's open to visitors but as the day was quite windy the balcony at the top was closed, so instead of going in and up  we explored a little more the area surrounding it and found quite a few interesting sculptures along the way.   

Could't resist taking this pic of John with his new friend, and the Rose Compass above depicts 8 elements - Glacia, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Mann Ireland and England and two other areas we couldn't quite decipher - probably to do with Celtic history.

A little further afield we found these in the sculpture park!

From a distance they looked like authentic monoliths, but close up it was obvious they had been sited much more recently to help depict the historic  and agricultural history of the area.

From here there was still more that we could've explored but we knew our return journey was at least 6 miles so we called it a day and set off back - a very hot walk in the lovely sunshine, and one that necessitated a break on a little beach for coffee and cake.

Friday 11th March 2016

This morning we left our wonky perch at A-Coruna and headed for the town of Ferrol - a settlement with a long Naval History, a castle that houses the Naval Establishment, a pretty marina, a few old  historic monuments and a garden that is home to a small nature reserve.

Now, I didn’t really get the joke but John says I've got to tell you that ‘The T4rdis is parked in Area 51’ - apparently it’s something to do with science fiction!   The story goes that it’s a secret area in the Nevada Desert that’s allegedly linked with the Roswell Incident - a UFO that crashed to earth! Fingers crossed then that the aliens don't sneak on board the T4rdis while we're not looking

Anyway, once we were settled we went off to explore - and sadly we were both a little underwhelmed so we only be stopped for one night. However, as we walked along the estuary that led to the Marina we passed over a rather nice footbridge - John’s comment here was ‘look what you can get money for when your Full Members of the Club’

After that I think the highlight of the day was sitting in a little cafe in the park - the sun was shining warmly on us as we sipped a cool beer and sampled the free tapas that they gave us. Only trouble was that the many boy peacocks who were strutting about displaying there tail feathers wanted to share and they were quite insistent!

And then when we declined a couple of the ladies decided they would nip in and get their own!

To be continued.........

Click here to see our Spanish Camping Spots