Saturday, May 28, 2011


Day 12 Friday 27th May

Again a leisurely breakfast and we set off for the city of Santiago de Compostela just to see the cathedral as it is so famous. We travelled on some excellent new Autovias, many not known to our TomTom - we just followed signs to Santiago.

It was obvious once we got there that there was going to be little or no chance to park the motorhome so we just viewed the city while drove around its centre a couple of times. Impressive and VERY busy.

We doubled back to an Aire that we were aware of which was located in a supermarket car park. Again no chance of parking as the designated spaces were all taken up by cars, even the service point had a car parked on it - great! On we went to another location at Milladoiro a few`miles away.

This Aire is in a sports centre car park and had plenty of room, for the moment. We had to move position to avoid flying footballs but other than that its a good place to nightstop and, the benefit of free wifi!!!

There are plenty of shops to wander round and that gave us a good walk too. The car park really filled up during the afternoon and evening as people came to use the huge facilities and kids were playing football until about 2 in the morning - apparently, nothing too unusual in this though Spanish kids love football, makes them grow up into world cup champions!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Any port will do

Day 11 Thursday 26th May

With us breakfasted, dog walked and van serviced we headed north out of Boiro to seek out some more wildcamping spots.

Our 1st GPS co-ords would have meant turning into a tiny road which, and I'm usually game to try off road, looked nigh on impossible for us. I think the person who gave us the recommendation may have been travelling in a more compact motorhome - I hadn't thought to ask... We headed further up the coast to Porto Do Son but were again met with very narrow streets and a 3.5 ton weight limit but a we exited the town there was a last turning that would accommodate us which led down to the port itself. There was a German motorhomer already parked up and he confirmed that there should be no problem overnighting.

After lunch we went for a walk around the town, the German had since driven off.... Wandering through the tiny back streets we came to the Town Hall and Guardia Civil HQ. My turn to ask this time so leaving Digger with Caroline I went inside to ask if it was OK to stay down by the port for the night. The young lady then told me I'd have to ask the General upstairs! I think she must have just meant the boss......

I explained where we had parked and that it was just for one night and a couple of telephone calls were made. I was given a hand drawn map to show where it would be OK and told 'No Problem!' Moving the van a few hundred yards to its approved place only took a couple of minutes. So for this evening we sat facing onto the harbour where the busy, brightly coloured, fishing boats are coming and going. There's a strong wind blowing off the water but other than that the situation is superb.

Photo harbour

A short siesta and another walk up to the top of the town, photos taken including one of a rather bizarre statue and we called in at the local butchers and bought some interesting looking pork marinated in some sort of pepper sauce - that'll be nice! :)

PHOTO statue

Moving on...

Day 10 Wednesday 25th May

We could easily just stayed where we were, the place is beautiful! But we have 'only' another 5 weeks to go and a lot more of Green Spain to explore so we packed up and set off for an Aire that we knew had services as we were now full up again.

Before leaving the island we drove into the centre to see what was there and were nicely surprised to find most of what could be needed - all nicely kept and a lovely port area with very helpful Tourist Office staff who gave us maps, a potted history of the island and again confirmed that motorhomes are welcome to park overnight where we had.

Photo Panorama of the island

An hour or so later we pulled up at Boiro, again on the coast but the last stop had been a very difficult one to beat! We made use of the services and discovered that there was a 6 Euro charge to overnight AND one had to traipse all the way into town to get the compulsory to display ticket! We couldn't be bothered but a Dutch couple that we had just met had enquired at the bar across the road and found out that they had no tickets at the moment so it was OK to stay up to 3 days free - as long as you ask for a ticket first!? No problem then, so we stayed. Not much shade about and the temperatures in the van wouldn't get below 30 degrees.

Another day in paradise

Day 9 Tuesday 24th May

We decided to stay in this lovely location for another day as we had water and waste capacity, we could make the most of lazing about and enjoying the place. After a very late wakeup I walked Digger and was surprised that apart from a late arrival the other motorhomes had gone - did they know something we didn't after all? No problems were apparent so we just assumed that had been up at a decent time and just went...

The van needed some housekeeping so this was an ideal opportunity to tidy up a bit, mats shook, swept and mopped through and dusted and polished... all before lunch too.

In the afternoon we walked around 'our' bay for a couple of hours. Digger enjoyed a paddle and substituted seagulls for his usual rabbits to chase - daft dog!

The island is really small and we reached one end, which was where the campsites were that we visited yesterday, maybe on a cooler day it would be good to walk right around it? There were plenty of photo opportunities so the ones following show the results of our walk.

Still no wifi so although the blog is being written day by day there's a backlog building that needs uploading - maybe tomorrow...

Day 8 Monday 23rd May

Another very peaceful night and a wonderful view to wake up to. The French couple moved off leaving us to enjoy the place to ourselves. I took some photos and after a very leisurely morning we had a quick tidy up and sweep out before moving on again.

We were in need of some services as our tanks were full so although we were going to look at a couple more wild camping spots we would probably not be able to stay unless we could find somewhere to empty or continue onto an Aire beyond the wild locations.

Our first spot was almost in sight along some twisty narrow roads when we came up behind a construction lorry that seemed not to be going anywhere anytime soon. We had to reverse back along the same twisty road for a kilometre or two before being able to turn around - oh well........

Shopping was needed so a quick call into a suitable Eroski supermarket made that possible. Within a couple of kilometres we then crossed a long bridge onto a small island that looked something close to motorhoming paradise!!

Pale sandy beaches spreading in all directions with pine trees that looked like palms from a distance - we would definitely have to find someway of staying on here!

Again the GPS co-ords took us beyond a likely looking place to park up - but no matter, we found that there were two actual campsites, maybe we could use their services? The first was very apologetic but said they had no facilities that we could use so we went down the road to the other. No problem, they had an outside loo to empty the cassette, a suitable drain for the grey waste and a tap to fill our tank from - 5 Euros for the privilege - Superb!

Fully serviced we went back to the parking place that we saw and found ourselves a spot. I asked a couple of other motorhomers, one Spanish and one German about the legalities of overnighting here and they both confirmed no problem.

So we are parked on this beautiful little island facing directly across a narrow beach to the sea and the mainland beyond. We'll enjoy a glass of wine or two this evening gazing out at the water with our panoramic windscreen view :)

Family gathering

Day 7 Sunday 22nd May

After exchanging texts and confirming where to meet we walked the 45 minutes (!) into the port area to meet Lorraine and John who we hadn't seen since last September. We soon saw the enormous ship that they had arrived on and then met up and found the nearest bar for a couple of beers and a catchup.

A really hot day but we decided to explore some of the city and headed for the old castle in the middle. 275 steps later (John counted them) we got to the top - the castle wasn't up to much but the views were worth it looking out over the rooftops and water. Time passed quickly so we headed back to the ship but stopped for some tapas en-route at a nice little pavement restaurant in one of the back streets, tortilla, scrambled egg with prawns and spinach, calamares and patatas allioli all round - excellent!

After saying our cheerios we walked 45 minutes (!) back to the motorhome hoping it was still OK with us not being there. We had again been reassured by The Guardia that it would be fine with them always on duty. It was indeed fine, so we quickly made ready and moved off to find our wildcamping spot for the night.

With the city behind us we climbed the steep roads along the coast watching the Cruise liner heading out to sea on its way to Lisbon for the next day.

We made our way through some very narrow and twisty roads to find the GPS co-ordinates that we were given, passing a likely looking place to stop on the way. The road became more and more difficult for a van of our size so we decided to turn around (no mean feat either) and returned to the spot that we saw a little while before. The clifftop location was far enough off the beaten track to let Digger off his lead which he seemed to really enjoy acting like a complete loony running and jumping rocks like he was confident that he knew what was on the other side!!!

Caro spoke to a couple of patrolling Guardia in their 4x4 and asked whether it was OK to stay overnight? They confirmed that it was alright so long as we were parked and not camped - so no awning, chairs, table etc outside the van - no problem! We shared the small parking area with an older French motorhoming couple and had a lovely evening looking down on the Atlantic waves coming in and went to sleep with their sound in the background.

Day 6 Saturday 21st May

After a very slow fill up with water from the drinking fountain and breakfast done we set off for a rece of a couple of wildcamping locations that we were aware of before ending up at Vigo where we intended to stay the night.

We completely missed the turn for the first wild location so pressed onto the 2nd, a beach just below a ruined (under restoration) monastery. Turned out to be a lovely spot for another day but smelt strongly of sewage this time so we moved on to Vigo.

We needed to check where the Cruise Liners docked as we planned to meet up with Caro's sister and brother-in-law when they docked the next day. We found our way into the very swish port area and asked the port police where we could meet up and what were the chances of parking overnight? Well you have to ask..... Obviously no chance locally but the policeman kindly got us a map and directed us along the front past the freight end to where it would be OK.

We followed his map and ended up amongst some articulated lorries by a Guardia Civil manned customs house. Caro spoke to the Guardia officer who couldn't have been more helpful. He pointed to where we could stay the night and that we need not worry as they are on duty 24/7. So we had somewhere to stay the night and would be well placed to walk to the Cruise ship in the morning. A few cars coming and going but otherwise a quiet night.

Day 5 Friday 20th May

A really good and peaceful nights sleep and a good start to the day - walking Digger, messing about with him on his lead making him sprint and stop caused him to jerk on his lead when I wasn't expecting it and nearly catapulted me over a ledge! Only a conveniently placed tree gave me something to block my fall. Apparently it looked funny....

Anyway, breakfast over we headed towards our next stop at Tui. We found the Aire easily but had to squeeze in a bit as there are only three 6 metre spaces with one left and we are 7 metres with the scooter on the back, but we managed.

Photo parking at Tui

We settled in for the afternoon, walked Digger on some waste ground which gave him a chance to run madly off the lead, he does think he can catch pigeons! Dinner and another peaceful night.

From plains to mountains

Day 4 Thursday 19th May

A late arrival by way of a German motorhome meant that we had company for the night although Astorga seemed perfectly tranquil at night and a secure feeling nightstop.

Next morning we slotted in to the queue for the services (lots of motorhomes arrived just to use the services) and once sorted we were on our way. A couple of hundred kilometres to Chantada, our destination Aire. We got TomTom to route via another Aire en-route so that we could research it for Club Motorhome.

As soon as we entered Galicia it was clear that we had swapped gently undulating plains for mountains with much use of the gearbox needed to make good progress uphill and down. We pulled in at our research stop and found it excellent! Right on the side of a lake with plenty of open spaces, picnic areas, a bar and brand new services. We used the bar of course, just to see if it was OK, then pressed on to our destination for the day.

Photo New Aire lake

The town of Chantada is large and by just driving through, pretty uninspiring but the Aire on the edge of town is a different matter. Recently constructed it is beside the new football stadium and is on landscaped parking which leads down to a river walk.

Photos Aire and river walk

We walked along the river in both directions and were quite impressed with how clean and well kept it all was, and a popular walking area for the locals too, we struck up conversations with a few along the way which gave us a chance to practice our Spanish - we leaned that the English like to buy old houses and do them up, there are a mixture of French and Italians in these parts but the politics are not good so they don't mix well, an old lady was picking a certain type of flower to be made into arrangements for the San Juan festival on the 24th etc etc. Sometimes we cope well with the language and other times we are complete rubbish, today was a good day.

We have paella on the menu tonight and the temperatures are high at 25 degrees. Hopefully the football stadium won't create too much noise and we'll get another peaceful night......

Digger the brave?

Day 3 Wednesday 18th May

When we woke and looked outside we found that we were mostly surrounded by parked cars. So as to not get hemmed in we moved over to the service point to finish our normal morning routines.

A little later one of these horrible little Aixam cars put-putted up and stopped right in front of us, out got two burly and fairly unsavoury looking hillbilly types who then physically pushed the car backwards a little (I don't think they have a reverse gear). One of them then knocked on our van and gesticulated that we were in his way to use the water tap, I gesticulated back that he was in my way to move but there was little understanding....

I got out and spoke as abruptly as they did to try and explain that there was nowhere else for us to park as they had just blocked us in, there were so many cars parked now and this was a MOTORHOME service point. With much grumbling on their part I got Digger out and took him with me to the rubbish bins to dump a bag. On our return the hillbillies were filling their water containers and moaning that they had to carry them a few metres to their little car, one of them made some comment about Digger being big, at which point I thought Digger would stand proud (some Spanish don't like big dogs) but instaed he suddenly cowered and grovelled on his belly to squeeze under the van. I can only guess that these two characters had stirred some distant memories and the poor dog turned to jelly. I managed to encourage him back into the van and 'safety' but felt that we had put on a less than macho display - oh well!

That episode out of the way I used the service point myself to empty the wastes and we set off for our next destination of Astorga. We had researched the Aire there in advance and were looking forward to seeing it next to a bullring and publicised as being a bit special.

Again, excellent Autovias made the 200+ km journey quite pleasant and by 2pm we arrived and parked next to the bullring and also the Highways Dept storage yard incorporating an active helipad! Amazing how different peoples perceptions can be..... Still, it looked an OK place to stop but we certainly wouldn't bill it as anything special.

Photo bullring

During the afternoon we wandered into the town thinking we might find something to make this a 'special' stopover. Impressive cathedral and surrounding buildings but very ordinary otherwise. Anyway, back at the van - photos taken, blog updated (but not uploaded), cool beer in hand and we're ready for the rest of last night's delicious chilli.

Photo incoming helicopter

From castle to castle

Day 2 Tuesday 17th May

Photo Turegano castle

After cleaning all the squished flies from the windscreen before exploring the town and lovely castle we set off with a shorter journey in mind to our next night stopover at Cuellar which was only about 45kms away,  although we detoured to take in Segovia en-route. Segovia has some amazing ancient architecture and although we only drove in and out again this time we 'bookmarked' it for a future detailed visit.

At our destination we found a Mercadona supermarket as we entered town and then found the Aire immediately outside some heavily restored city walls and castle. No other motorhomes in residence and the services seem to be overflowing as well - oh dear!

Photo Cuellar castle

Situated right on the edge of town we were able to give Digger a run off his lead in the adjoining fields and tracks although he seemed quite happy to wander along with us at our pace. We then explored the inner city through and impressive, but brand new, archway into the fortress, building and restoration is going on at a fair old rate and I imagine that this will become very touristy in time.

With the odd very light shower of rain the temperature has been in the mid twenties although more so in the van so a chilled beer was very welcoming while Caro cooked us a chilli and I have the chance to write up our blog, although I can't post it yet as we haven't found any wifi - maybe tomorrow.

Photo Cuellar castle at night

South of Valencia to North of Madrid

Day 1 Monday 16th May

As usual when moving from house to motorhome our packing always takes a bit longer than we estimate and we got under way, with a fill up of diesel and a new Cepsa gas cylinder, at about 1pm. With beautiful weather we were straight onto main roads and settled into the journey. Digger took a little while to feel comfortable but eventually found a spot between our seats to snuggle in, its by far the longest journey he has undertaken with us.

Our first day of this trip was a very long stretch at over 600kms but using free 'Autovia' toll free roads the journey was enjoyable with some lovely scenery along the way.

From the Province of Valencia we moved through gently undulating vineyards in Castilla-la-Mancha, huge fields of poppies in full bloom via Cuenca and through the more rugged but lush green (at this time of year) Province of Madrid.

We had a couple of comfort stops and a 15 minute power nap when tiredness set in followed by a stimulating cup of Americano to sharpen me up for the rest of the day.

Photo - Turegano town

TomTom did a great job and we pulled in at our first nightstop at an Aire in Tuegano which is not far from Segovia at around 9pm. We'd seen some pretty grotty photos of this Aire in advance and were pleasantly surprised to see it in the flesh. Its an old cereal mill and a bit run down but the town seems lovely with an enormous and imposing castle and an impressive town square surrounded by ancient houses.

Photo - Mill

As it was so late we just snacked on cheese, pickles and nuts then made the bed (always a chore on the first night) showered and to bed. A good nights sleep for all three of us.

With a great nights sleep we planned our next route and luckily we didn't need to use the services as they were blocked and overflowing! Our Spanish neighbour at the Aire tried to unblock it without success.

Note: All the Aires and stopover locations that we visit will be listed in detail with descriptions and photographs, GPS locations, Google Maps etc. on Club Motorhome as soon as possible.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Packed and ready to go again....

Apart from a week away last month not much has happened with our motorhome travels, until tomorrow!

We're off to Northern (Green) Spain for a few weeks to explore, as its an area that is new to us. As usual we'll be staying on a mixture of Aires, wildcamping spots and the occasional campsite to use their laundry facilities and, subject to wifi, we'll blog as we go along.

The areas we will be exploring

We'd love to hear from anyone who knows the area with any particular recommendations on places and things to see......