Category: Uncategorized

Back to the Pap

Since returning to Papiano we’ve had a pretty quiet time.  We went on a bike ride a few days after getting here, but it’s the last one we’ll do together as Colin’s road bike – with the skinny tires – doesn’t do well at all on the terrible roads.

I’ve gone on several solo rides to some of my favourite places – Olmeto, Spina, Compignano, Mercatello, etc.  The weather’s been generally nice and sunny, but at times the wind has been rather fierce.

I’ve also gone a little further up the road to the east and into the hills that way – as far as the small town of Castelleone that I haven’t been to before.

There was a festa at the bar a few days after we arrived and it was very well attended.  We couldn’t believe how much food there was – 4 or 5 courses, including pasta al ragu, and more than one meat dish.  It was so nice to see everyone again, and we had some good conversation with John and Janet, as well as Afka (the Dutch lady).

Last Friday we finally took a short drive to Spello where we had lunch.

It’s a lovely little town with very scenic lanes, lots of artisanal shops, and many restaurants to choose from.

It looks like it might be a bit touristy at another time of year but wasn’t too bad at the end of October.

There is still work being done on both the bell tower and the ‘apartment’ building below us.  They’ve begun removing the scaffolding from the bell tower but it isn’t likely to be in use again until near Christmas.  The apartment will take a lot longer – the government is spending almost 1 million euros to fix the damage from the 2016 earthquake, and they’ve completely gutted it.

I’ve been practising making pies – not dessert ones, but meat ones.  Colin had seen a recipe in a magazine when we were still in France and the first one I tried was steak and mushroom.  It turned out pretty well, so I moved on to chicken pie – I roasted a whole chicken first, then peeled the meat off and made the pie – another success.  The last experiment was salmon and leek – I’m rather pleased with the results!

There was another festa at the bar this past Sunday – Monday was a holiday here so no problem to have a slightly late evening.  This one was more low-key, with pork buns rather than a sit-down dinner, but again nice to mingle with the locals.

I’ve spent hours in the last few days trying to sort out paperwork, etc for my journey home.  Air Canada sent some info on Friday and since then I’ve been very busy.  First I had to schedule a ‘molecular covid test’, which I had this morning.  It was the one involving a very long swab poked way up the nose, although I must say it wasn’t quite as bad as the one I had in France in the summer.

Then I had to fill out a very long thing online for entry to Canada and it failed time after time.  I finally gave up today and downloaded an app that actually worked.  Hopefully they’ll let me pass with no problem – I would hate to be stuck in Toronto for 14 days!

We had our neighbour Angelo over for lunch today – he’s a very nice person and we had a lovely visit.  Chairman Meow is his cat…

Fantastic Finale to La Vuelta – ITT into Santiago

As usual on a race day cars and campervans went up and down looking for spots to park.  Also as usual many amateur riders took their crack at the course.  And fans walked and rode up and down as well.

Since it was the ITT many of the racers did a re-con ride, either alone or with others of their team.

Around noon a few vehicles pulled into the parking area of a building just up the road from us and proceeded to setup a large canopy.  They then put up some very large speakers – uh oh.  Not long after that the music started – just blasting away the peace and quiet we had enjoyed until then.

After a couple of hours I couldn’t stand it anymore so took a stroll up to have a word with them.  I asked when they were going to stop and and was told it would go on all day!  I cried out ‘no!’ and they just looked at me like I was crazy.  I finally begged them to at least turn the speaker around so it was facing them and not us, and to please turn it down a bit.  They did turn the speaker around, but the lowered volume only lasted a minute or two.

The start today is much later than usual, so that the last rider would arrive in Santiago di Compostella near sunset.

I did take a walk to the corner just below us – it’s a very sharp corner with quite a steep gradient.

There are, of course, quite a few people gathered, including not one, but two bagpipe players, a bongo drummer and a guy with a horn – literally a horn.  In addition there’s the lady in the jester’s costume that had walked past us earlier with the cute baby.

The caravan – small as it is in the Vuelta – arrived at 3:48.  We did score a couple of hats – I gave one to the little fellow next to us – as well as several key rings and a bag of olives.

The first rider came by us at almost 5:20, followed by points winner Fabio Jakobsen (I’ve been spelling his name incorrectly previously).  Even though he will win the green jersey he’s in second to last place overall, thus the second to start the ITT which goes in reverse order.

The folks up the road with the blaring music do look like they’re enjoying themselves, but we just couldn’t take any more so relocated down to the corner where the atmosphere was so much more fun for us.

One of the bagpipers was now dressed – we think – as a wolf, although wookie also came to mind.

The other bagpiper and the guy with the horn were in skeleton outfits.

There was also a superman.

As we were taking photos of the riders and the cars, folks in some of the cars and on the motos were also taking pics of us.

Even though it’s the final stage and as long as they all stay on their bikes the overall results are not likely to change much, no-one seems to be slacking in their efforts.

In the end Jack Haig hung in for third overall…

…Mas for second, and getting a very well deserved win – both the stage and the overall, Primos Roglic.

We waited for a short while before deciding what to do about leaving – we asked our neighbours in the other campervan if they were leaving or staying the night and their opinion was the very same as ours…if the folks with the horrible loud music were staying, then we were leaving – if they left, then we were going to stay.

Luckily for all of us the party people started to take down their equipment and in very quick time were out of there – blessed peace!!

From Viegu back to Santa Eulalia de Oscos, and on to Quintans – More Vuelta!

Shortly after the race passed our nice little spot in Viegu we got going north towards the coast, stopping at an aire not far from the town of Ribadesella.  That’s the town that’s made headlines recently for it’s tongue-in-cheek response to criticism from tourists that had complained about the noise from roosters and church bells, etc.

We stopped in Gijon to re-stock on food, then continued straight west on the motorway until just before Ribadeo where we turned south along the route for the next day’s stage.

We followed the route to the town of A Fonsagrada, where we stopped so Colin could get some salve for his insect bites.  I haven’t been bitten at all, but they seem to really go for him!

Backtracking to the village of Santa Eulalia de Oscos we once again took advantage of the aire.  The race goes by on the road below, although it doesn’t actually go thru the village.

After a lovely glass of rioja we had a nice early night – there are only two other vans this time, as opposed to being almost full two weeks ago.

Early the next morning we followed the route several miles on and picked a nice wide spot to park and watch from.

There was a very large breakaway that arrived at 1:49…

…with the peloton, led by Jumbo Visma – with current overall leader Primoz Roglic – only two minutes behind (love his blue shoes!)…

…and team Ineos and Bernal not far back.

We once again saw our ‘friend’ the photographer who stopped right at our spot to take some photos.

We’ve met him several times now, including the Tour of Burgos three years ago and the world’s in Harrogate two years ago.  He liked the book I was reading that I’d set near my chair and commented on it.

Several minutes later, as usual, were the sprinters and others, including Jacobsen and several of his protective Quickstep team members.

After taking down the flags we had a somewhat leisurely drive back past Santiago and a bit south to the town of Padron – it’s the starting point for Sunday’s final stage that is an Individual Time Trial.  We know we’re not going to watch from Padron, but it has an aire that was pretty easy to find.

We actually didn’t really care for the site – it’s right across from a canal, and also right on one of the many Camino routes.  In fact there’s a marker showing that it’s at km 26,770 of the trail – not sure where they started counting from – China, maybe? Or, perhaps, as Colin reminded me, they use the comma and the decimal backwards here, and it more likely means 26.77 km to go to Santiago – maybe?? Hahaha.

The problem with the site is that it’s surrounded on two sides by large apartment blocks, and since it was Friday night there was a lot of activity, including drunken shouting and verbal altercations from some of the suites.

Leaving as early as possible the next morning we headed out on the route, looking for a spot somewhere on the one large climb of the finale on Sunday.  We passed a spot that Colin liked but I wanted to press on and see what was ahead – we ended up going another 15 km or so before turning around and parking in the first spot.

We were eventually joined by another campervan, and many more cruised up and down the road looking for places.

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.