Author: sallymckenzieblog

Vuelta from Viegu

We left our lovely aire and made our way north back to Asturias.

Along the way we passed thru some beautiful countryside that reminded me a lot of home.  Not far from the border there’s a reservoir/lake and the water’s so low that cattle are grazing on lands that used to be underwater.

There’s a pullout just before the town of Oseja de Sajambre and it has a trail down to a platform with wonderful views of the deep valley and surrounding mountains.

We left the main road shortly after entering Asturias and headed a few km west to the village of Viego – or Viegu, depending on what signs you look at.

We’d passed a couple of possible parking spots for the race tomorrow before we got to the village but continued on, stopping at a cafe/bar/restaurant for a coffee and to discuss our plan.

We quickly decided to stay where we were rather than continue up to the summit.  The cafe served food and good wine – why leave?

We had a nice fairly flat parking space right in front – we did move a bit to allow more customers to park but were assured by the waiter that we could stay overnight.  We promised to eat and drink there – he spoke very good english, and is also a cycling fan.

We had some tapas for lunch and got to watch the last bit of the day’s race on the tv inside.

We went for a short walk a bit further up the road – it’s very twisty and quite steep in spots so there’ll be plenty of good places to watch and shoot from.

There are several large dogs that roam around and aren’t on leads.  They don’t seem to be aggressive, but Mo and Henry bark at them anyway.

We’ve seen quite a few campervans going up the road, only to come back down again a short while later.  A couple of large ones came back to the village and we had fun watching them trying to squish into places to park.

Two boys carried a small soccer net to the square and a bunch of the local kids were playing when some slightly older ones arrived with brooms and started clearing the ground.

They did a very good job in a very short time.

A steady stream of vehicles went up and down the road the next morning, all hoping for a decent place to park.

As the morning progressed our little cafe got busier and busier and it seemed like the whole village gathered along the roadside.

The campervan next to us has a tiny dog we refer to as ‘rat dog’ and their friend that was parked down the road a bit has a fluffy little shi tzu.

We ended up parking the lawn chairs right behind the campervan to take our photos from.

The caravan passed by and I almost missed it – it’s nothing like the one for the Tour.

The first riders appeared just before 2:20, with several QuickStep riders protecting their green jersey holder Jacobsen only four minutes back.  It’s so, so good to see Jacobsen doing well again when only about a year ago he was in an induced coma from crash injuries.

About half an hour after the first pass it just started to pour…

…and pour…

One of the local ladies and her family were all wearing white t-shirts with ‘Viegu’ in black – I’m now the proud owner of one and put it on immediately.

The second pass of the race arrived just over an hour after the first – the rain had slacked a bit by then – Bernal and Roglic were alone in the lead by a few seconds.

The group was much more spread out this time taking over 15 minutes to pass us.  As soon as they were by we scooted inside the cafe to watch the last hour on one of their two tv’s.

It was a thrilling finish up the dreaded Covadonga with Roglic and Bernal staying out in front and Roglic finally getting away and putting over a minute into everyone else – very dominating and exciting ride!

Bonar, Barrio de Las Olas and Barky Dogs

It absolutely poured with rain during the night, and Mo, as usual, tried to out-bark the thunder.  We’ve noticed that the campground has made several improvements from the last time we were here.  The bathrooms, including the sinks and showers all seem new and they’ve spiffed up other things as well.

The one thing that hadn’t changed was that no one was at the office when we wanted to leave.  The last time we’d just left some cash in an envelope and put it thru the door slot, but this time we left a note that we’d be back later.

We had to go up to Lugo to try to get a couple of things fixed in the campervan.  Not only had the solar battery/electrics failed but the sink plug had sprung a leak – for the second time!  Adria:  we love the new campervan and many things about it, but some of the little things are just crap!

We made it to Lugo and the place we’d picked was very good – we got a replacement sink drain/fixture and one of their guys had a look at the battery.  He wasn’t an expert and couldn’t determine what was wrong so didn’t charge us anything, although Colin gave him some cash anyway.

We headed southeast back to the campground where we paid up, then further east past Leon, stopping at the edge of the town of Sahechores where we saw a bunch of campervans parked in a field.  It was quite pleasant, with a very nice restaurant/bar as well.

We were enjoying a nice beverage when a woman at a table near us lit a cigarette.  As this was very smelly, and I know isn’t allowed I motioned for her to put it out – no doing.  She gave me the evil eye until Colin went in to pay, then I went to her table and apologized for my response to her smoking, telling her that my mother had died due to cigarettes and it just made me sad.  She accepted my apology very contritely.

We had a nice quiet night – with…ta-da!  – full power on the battery in the morning.  We took a short walk – there’s a huge stork’s nest atop the chimney of a church, and a rock that looks like a frog (according to Colin) – a bit of imagination can be used, then I get it.

We got going before noon back to Leon to stock up again and then off northeast to the town of Bonar.  It’s in a lovely area and the aire is right on the river – 3 euros a night including electrics.

The aire is right across from the community swimming pool/recreation area and as it was Saturday they were having a party.  

Hundreds of people started to arrive and the music was blaring – we feared no sleep would be had until well after midnight.

We took a walk in to the town and had a nice drink at one of several cafe/bars.  

On the walk back two ladies looking out their window smiled as I waved at them then took their photo.

We were very pleasantly surprised when the music at the party across the road stopped at around 9:00 and we were able to get an early, peaceful night.

There were about 25 campervans in the place overnight but many left during the day.  We assume this is the last weekend of holidays in Spain and everyone has to get back to work or school.

There are several hiking and mountain-biking trails around here, as well as skiing in the winter.  We took a walk along a trail that was meant to take us to a waterfall, but it wasn’t well marked and we went about a kilometre the wrong way before backtracking.

It was still a nice walk, though, and we went back along the road rather than the trail.  There was more than one house with guard dogs, and one in particular had several large, loud ones.

Another walk into the town, and another refreshing beverage, this time with a couple of tapas.

On the walk back the sun was coming thru the clouds in brilliant rays – a lovely evening.

This morning we went for another walk, this time following the road rather than the unmarked trail.  It was easy walking until we came to the ‘dog house’.  This time there were no fewer than six very large dogs just hurling themselves at their gate to get at us so we hustled past.

Then a lone dog – a ridge-back, Colin thought – came after us up the road.  There was a fat old lady yelling at it to come back but it just kept coming at us.  I scooped Mo up in my arms and the dog went past us and on to Colin and Henry.  Colin gave it a light kick and it retreated back a bit, allowing us to pass.

I yelled at the old lady – even though it wasn’t in Spanish I’m sure she understood ‘get control of your f’ing dog!’.

I must say something about the dogs here – there are dogs everywhere, but here in Spain it seems the owners don’t care as much about having them on a leash and it can be quite frightening, especially when we have two fairly small dogs – always on their leads, of course.  

We continued on up to the nearby small village of Barrio de Las Ollas – unfortunately there wasn’t even a cafe, and several of the houses were for sale.

It wasn’t deserted or anything, in fact restoration work was being done on more than one place.

Not feeling very energetic we declined to go to town for a drink, opting instead to sit in the chairs outside and take it easy.

There are only four or five campervans here now and it’s very quiet.

The recreation area across the road had a bit of music as usual, but again it ended nice and early.

Razo to Trabadelo

The morning was a bit misty on the beach in Razo but the surfers were already out.  We got going before noon, looking for the isolated beach aire we were originally trying to find.

We wound up and over some very narrow roads and finally saw the lovely beach, but there was nowhere to park and we almost got stuck in a field.  After I’d gotten out so I could direct Colin back to the road he started shouting ‘Get in!  Get in!’ so I quickly jumped in and shut the door – there was a swarm of very large, very angry hornets at the front of the van and they followed us, attacking the windshield as we got going up the road.

We finally got onto a better road and had a little break at the beach just outside the town of Ponteceso.  It was a lovely area, but marred slightly by an older fellow telling us we couldn’t take the dogs onto the beach – which we weren’t going to do anyway.  Another older guy got into a discussion with the first one and we wondered if it was going to get physical they got so heated about it.  We just continued on and went to the cafe/bar where we had a very nice coffee.

After our short break we continued around the northwestern point of Galicia, and stopped at a nice campground just outside the town of Louso.

We took a walk along the beach – dogs are allowed here! – and had a nice chat with a couple originally from Wales that now spend three months a year here – they have their own spot reserved and everything.

The next day we took a walk back into the town, all on paths and sidewalks overlooking the ocean.  Partway along one of my flip-flops broke – I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to walk with a broken flip-flop!

I managed to make it to the restaurant where we ended up – finally – having a nice lunch.  The place was very busy and apparently they only had one waitress that spoke english to serve us, although we could have made ourselves understood to anyone – it took forever, but ended up being pretty good.

After a very hot afternoon it finally cooled down a bit, but we noticed that we suddenly had very little battery power left.  In fact we had to shut down the lights and the fridge even went off.  The solar panel should have been plenty so we hadn’t hooked up to the electrics – we think there’s a problem between the solar panel and the battery – it works fine in the daytime, and charges while we drive, but suddenly seems to be losing power quickly as soon as the sun goes down.

Wednesday morning we left the campground and headed inland past Santiago de Compostela and on to an aire in the town of Portomarin, another of the many large stops on the Camino.

This close to Santiago there are now hundreds and hundreds of walkers as the various trails converge.

We walked around a bit, then chose a restaurant to have dinner in – it was quite nice.

The town is just packed with walkers – almost every business in the place is something catering to them – cafes, bars, pensions/auberges, pharmacies (we’ve seen the walking wounded, with every kind of bandage possible!) – good business for the locals, I hope.

Again in the night the power all failed, with the fridge going out in the very early morning.  We can’t even make tea in the morning as the gas goes out automatically when the power fails.

We took the ‘scenic route’ to Ponferrada the next day to stock up on groceries – the GPS spent almost an hour trying to get us to turn back and go north thru Lugo before giving up and acknowledging that we were taking the more southerly route.

Along the way we experienced an interesting incident – we got behind a line of vehicles that were all slowed down because of a very large, wide loaded truck ahead.  There was a huge dump truck on the deck of a low-bed, with the tires stacked with it.  It was moving extremely slowly and then it wasn’t moving at all – it had become stuck under an overpass that was just inches too low.

Luckily it was right near a slip road that everyone behind snuck around on, but the oncoming traffic was held up by police as the low-bed was going down the middle of the road where the overpass was supposed to be high enough to clear – not!

We made it to Ponferrada, did our shopping, then continued northwest a bit to a campground we’d found four years ago just outside the town of Trabadelo.

Exploring Galicia – Foz to Razo, and Places in Between

We had a couple of fairly quiet days, with nice walks along the shore trails.

The weather was a bit crappish so we didn’t go far, and never even bothered to get out the bikes.

One morning there was a man that was teaching his son to surf – and the little fellow seemed to like it.

After a couple of days of rest we decided to head a bit inland again, and ended up in an aire at the edge of the lovely village of Castro de Rei.  It even had free electric.

We got parked, then took a walk into the village, where we encountered an elderly couple that were just leaving their garden and crossing the road to their house.  They took a great interest in the dogs, especially Henry.  We managed to converse a bit, even with my very poor spanish, and they were so sweet – wanting to know the doggies names, and also where we were staying.

We then walked back a bit and stopped at the bar to have a drink, and then a couple of very small tapas.  The bill for a really nice glass of rioja, a beer and two tapas was a grand total of three euros!

On the way back to the campervan I tried to take some photos of the almost-full moon – I was fairly disappointed with the results…it was much more colourful than I seemed able to capture.

We left Castro de Rei mid-morning the next day and continued on the short distance to A Feira Do Monte, which was also very nice, although quite a bit larger town.  The aire, however, was in a really beautiful area right next to a bird sanctuary.

It was a fairly busy parking area actually, with lots of cars coming and going – there are several nice trails going around the ‘lake’ and to various places in the town.

We took a lovely long walk around the ‘lake’ – it has many informative kiosks as well as a few strategically placed bird watching towers.

(No – this is not a real bird!)

The next morning we took a short walk along one of the many paved trails – it eventually led to a museum in the town but we didn’t follow it to the end, opting to get going to our next stop instead. I must say they’ve done a really good job with the trails and info in this area – very nice to see.

We went a couple hours almost straight west to what we thought was going to be an isolated beach aire on the coast near the small village of Razo.

It was a beautiful place, but not what we’d expected.  It was just bustling – mostly with surfers, but at least it had a couple of nice bars and restaurants.  We parked for the afternoon right across from the beach – directed by some fellows that looked fairly official, but we weren’t asked for any money.  We squeaked into a space, slightly scraping the canopy holder on the side of the campervan on a sign on the way in.

After a nice walk above the beach – no dogs allowed on the actual beach – we tried to order a drink at a bar, but no luck.  They were incredibly busy but didn’t seem to have nearly enough staff to service half of the folks.  Two people at the table next to us were able to order some of what they wanted but then the waitress pretty much ran away without taking our order.  When I said ‘well…maybe tomorrow!’ the two laughed and said ‘she’s very stressed’ but we’d waited long enough and left for another place.

At the second place we ended up not only having drinks – a very nice bottle of Rioja – but also lunch.

We relocated where we parked a couple of times to find the right place to spend the night, ending up on a large paved area at the edge of town, again right across from the ocean.

The sunset was beautiful.