Back to Italy!

We got on the way from Mansle at a decent time in the morning, heading east through pouring rain.  The sky cleared a bit from time to time but it was generally a grey day.

We arrived in Chambery after a fairly long drive and checked into the hotel before taking the dogs for a short walk.  They are such good little travellers, and we make sure we stop regularly so they can have a little walk (ie:  pee).  

Since we’re in the car this time the seats in the back are down and Henry has his bed behind my seat so he can see Colin because then he doesn’t bark.  We tried putting Mo in the back also but she didn’t look comfortable perched on her blanket atop some luggage so she now lays on my lap on the blanket with her harness clipped to my seatbelt.

The next morning we continued east – it was still a bit grey out but not as much rain.

Passing through Bramans Val Cenis I finally realized we’d been through this pass before – albeit from the other direction – when we saw one of the Hannibal statues.

I’m not sure it’s been proven that Hannibal took this route over and through the Alps but it’s certainly possible.

We stopped just before noon at a cafe at the top of the pass – it was fiercely windy and had actually started snowing!

The proprietor of the cafe was a very old lady – when she spoke it sounded like every second word was Italian, although when I tried to converse with her she said in French that she didn’t speak it.

A few miles down the road we stopped again so I could take some photos – Lac du Mont-Cenis was looking spectacular with a bit of mist rising and whitecaps from the wind making the water look extra dark.  The place is half-way between Paris and Rome.

Only a few miles later and we were in Italy – again, just as passing from Spain to France, there was no border stop or covid check.  We only knew we were in Italy by the road signs and potholes.

A few miles outside Susa we saw a large message on the side of a mountain – ‘TAV = MAFIE’.

I googled it later to find out what it meant – there is/was a lot of opposition to the plans to build a long tunnel to accommodate a new high speed rail line.  Apparently there’s a lot of mafia infiltration in the construction industry, as well as many corrupt politicians – well, it is Italy!

We checked into a nice hotel in the village of Fornaci, not too far from Bergamo – we’re spending a few days on a little vacation before the race on Saturday.  The hotel has a nice restaurant and we enjoyed a lovely, although quite late dinner.

The next day we took a drive to re-con the race route, planning to pick a spot somewhere on the last climb of the day – the Passo di Ganda.

As we followed the route up through Orezzo, over the top and down into Selvino we remarked more than once how fortunate it was that we were in the BMW rather than the campervan.  The road was extremely narrow in spots and very winding and it’s possible the campervan wouldn’t have been able to negotiate parts of it.

Since we hadn’t passed many likely spots to park on race day we decided to watch from somewhere in the town of Selvino.  Another consideration was access to a cafe – and toilets, which is one of many perks of having a campervan that weren’t available in a car.

The drive down to Nembro was interesting, including twenty hairpin turns, each with a sign showing the name of an Italian cyclist.  Also included was the usual last-minute road works on the race route.

The next day we took a lovely drive up to the north end of Lago d’Iseo and down the east side, stopping along the way in the town of Marone.

It’s a nice little place, and being right on the lake it has lovely views, as well as some interesting architecture.

We left Marone and continued south along the lake to the town of Iseo, where we stopped for lunch.

Iseo is a beautiful place – we’ve used the campground more than once before, including on my first trip four years ago.

Returning to the hotel we were both so full from our excellent lunch that we didn’t bother with dinner, planning to get up nice and early so we could get to Selvino before the roads were closed in the morning.

Mellowing in Mansle

Since our return from Spain things have been pretty quiet for us and we haven’t done a whole lot, with a few exceptions.

First, and quite important – we went to a clinic so Colin could get his ‘vaccine passport’ and I could arrange for my second shot.  They weren’t sure what to do with me – they don’t vaccinate ‘tourists’ but we managed to convey that I wasn’t really just a tourist, and they really wanted to help me so they gave in.

The very nice lady doctor (that spoke pretty good english) told me that since my first shot was about four months ago it was too old and I’d have to get two more from them.  Disappointing as it would mean delaying our return to Italy, but I made an appointment for the first one two days from then.

When we arrived for my appointment the first thing the same doctor said was ‘why don’t we do an antibody test just in case – if you have antibodies then we may only have to give you one shot’.  They took a bit of blood from a finger prick, then gave me a shot.  While I waited my 15 minutes the test result came in and I did have enough antibodies – they presented me with a vaccine certificate!!  They still didn’t know what to do about billing me so just let me go.

The first thing we did when we got back to Mansle was go to the bar, but Edith had to break the news to me that I had to wait a week before I was ‘legal’ – oh well, back home we went.

The second, and very enjoyable thing was that we had Tony and Joyce over for dinner.  It was a lovely evening so we sat outside for the appetizers before coming inside for the main meal.  There was good wine, and excellent conversation, and the food seemed to go over well – an extremely nice evening.

We had lunch one day near Luxe at the ‘lake’ – they’d stocked it with 300 kilos of live trout and there were dozens of fishermen and women sitting in the rain along the shore.

One old fellow caught two good sized ones while we ate.

We had several nice bike rides, with the last one being over 40 km – we stopped in Aigre for lunch then managed to make it home before the rain hit.

Colin took the campervan to the place he bought it from in Ruffec to get all of the small things sorted out – we’re going to Italy in the car so won’t be needing the campervan again for a while.

I’ve learned to make a proper pie crust and have made a couple of very tasty quiches – next up steak and mushroom pie.

There’s been a couple of very important races that we watched on tv this year rather than being there.  First the world championships in Belgium, which would have been awesome to see live – a thrilling race won for the second year in a row by Julian Alaphilippe.

The second one two days ago was Paris-Roubaix, which normally takes place in April, and is the first time it’s been held since we saw it live in 2019.  This year it was rain and mud all the way, and was won with a thrilling sprint to the finish by three riders – the winner by a few inches was Italian Sonny Colbrelli.

Having missed both of those races we’re really looking forward to going to the last big one of the year – il Lombardia – on our way back to Papiano.

Roast Lamb, Friends in Logrono, back to France

The campground’s pit-roasted lamb dinner was every bit as delicious as we remembered – a joint of lamb brought sizzling in a pan and carved by the chef at our table, accompanied by green olives, lovely crusty bread, fries and salad.

I ate as much as I could and still had plenty to take away for tomorrow’s meals – a really excellent birthday dinner.

The next morning we weren’t in any great hurry to leave so took a nice long walk along the main street of the town.

As usual in this area it’s all about the Camino, with auberges all over the place, as well as a nice plaza and some cafe/bars.

We did get away right around noon, stopping to say goodbye to the owners and letting them know how much we enjoyed staying there – and the dinner last night – and promising to return.

The drive to Logrono didn’t take that long, and we found the aire no problem – we’d been there two years ago.  It’s just on the north edge of the city in an area chock-full of sports fields and activities.  Nice and flat with lots of trees, very near the river.

In the morning we took a walk to the river, then east along the lovely pathway to the large pedestrian bridge, passing a skateboard park along the way.

We only came to the town to see Ricardo (Richard) and to pick up three cases of Rioja to take back to France – he was able to meet with us a bit early, along with his daughter Lucy.  

It was so nice to see them again, especially as we’d not been able to come to Spain last year.  We took another walk with them, this time to a cafe where we sat outside and chatted for a bit.

Lucy has grown up so much – she was only 12 or so when we first met her, and now she’s in her final year of school before entering university next year – a very lovely and beautiful young lady.

When we told them where we’d been the last couple of days they were so surprised – it’s the place that Richard’s father was born and grew up in – he still has cousins and other family there.  I showed them the photos I’d taken and they recognized almost every place.

Right after Richard and Lucy left we also got under way, deciding to go all the way back to Mansle rather than stopping partway.  We made a stop very near the French border to pickup a couple more things and once again crossed over without even a question, only knowing we’d crossed the border when we passed the sign saying ‘France’. 

Back to Camping a Vuoga, Riding the Bear Trail, Carrion de Los Condes

It rained off and on all night, and we awoke to the renewal of a problem – the electrics that had miraculously fixed themselves after our visit to the mechanic in Lugo have once again gone on the fritz.  The fridge is off, as well as everything else – we couldn’t even get the stove going to make a cup of tea.

Since our neighbours had left very early – around 5:30 or so – we did something we don’t normally do, and ran the motor for awhile to charge up the battery.

After making a nice cup of tea and having some breakfast we returned to Camping A Vouga back on the coast.  Within an hour we’d both showered and had a large load of laundry in.

We opted for lunch at the campground’s restaurant and both got the ‘plate of the day’ – avocado stuffed with shrimp, followed by garlic chicken with fries, although the fries turned out to be mashed potatoes – luckily I like both, and had plenty leftover for dinner.

Retrieving the laundry to hang it to dry I noticed that some of it was dripping wet and some of it didn’t look like water had even hit it – faulty machine I guess, so we had to do some of it over in a different machine.

This time our camping spot was overlooking the beach and we spent a pleasant afternoon watching the tide coming in and just relaxing.

I took a nice walk on the beach around sunset – it was beautiful.

The rainstorm in the night was torrential, accompanied by frequent bright flashes of lightening and tremendous thunder.  I spent quite awhile trying to calm Mo down – she needed many pats and cuddles.

From the coast the next morning we had a long day of travel east to get back to the ‘bear trail’ just southwest of Oviedo.  We’d stopped by there a couple of weeks ago but the crowds were too much for us, although we still wanted to go for a ride.

We spent the night in the large parking area near a bike rental/cafe and put the bikes and chariot together the next morning.

The ride was very nice – not as many people as there would have been in August, and even the dogs were a bit less barky.

We stopped in Proaza for coffee, then continued up the trail a few more km. before turning back.

We saw two of the bears – I think there are three in total, all behind fences and unable to roam as they should – kind of sad, really.

By the time we got back to the parking lot it was chock-full, and we were glad we’d gone riding when we did.  After a nice tuna salad with feta cheese for lunch we were on our way again.

We backtracked a bit to Oviedo to take the motorway south to Leon where we turned east and stopped at an aire on the edge of the town of Carrion de los Condes.

The aire is quite small but does have water drop, etc.  It’s right next to a sports complex with a very nice soccer field, and there’s a pedestrian bridge crossing the river to the town.

Since we weren’t in any special hurry we explored the town a bit the next morning – it’s larger than we expected, and is another fairly important stop on the Camino trail. We spent a bit of time exploring and quite liked the place.

The town is either 401 km or 405 km from Santiago – depending on which sign you look at – most people’s final destination when they walk the Camino.

There are some really nice lamps and lampposts…

…churches and statues…

As in most Camino towns almost all of the businesses have something to do with the ‘pilgrims’.

There’s a mosaic on the ground on some stairs, but it has degraded over the years – it must have been fantastic when first completed.

Leaving the aire before noon we went on to the town of Castrojeriz, another campground we’ve been to before.

I remember three things about it from our first visit:  the ruined castle on the hill above the town;  a nice ride I took along the Camino to the town of Hontanas;  and the delicious roast lamb dinner we had at the campground’s restaurant.

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.

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.