Joined August 2017 England, United Kingdom
  • Day 39


    July 3, 2019 in England ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Packed up and off down the road to Santander. We left the van in the ferry terminal and headed off along the promenade. Had a leisurely coffee in the sun and then we walked a couple of km along the front to the Maritime museum. We came here with the kids many years ago. The cost of entry included a cut-price menu del dia in their lovely rooftop restaurant so we idled over that, watching the windsurfers and the sailing lessons before looking round the museum and the aquarium below. It was a very restful way to spend our last day.
    Then all aboard for our mini cruise home.
    Broken night's sleep though Ian said the sea was as flat as Winterbourne pond. I dispute that.
    We treated ourselves to a posh breakfast cos we had a discount card and then spent the rest of the day sitting on deck in the sun trying to spot dolphin. And f **k my old boots we actually saw some playing in the wake waves at the back of the boat! Knowing our luck wildlife spotting, what were the chances of that?
    Brittany ferries pulling out all the stops with accordian players and free cider barmaids wandering the decks.
    Lovely end to a great trip.
    Adiós Espana. Back soon.....x
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  • Day 38

    A hill too far?

    July 2, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Forecast not great for today but we set off on the bikes regardless up the Vale of Cabuérniga.
    15 solid uphill miles and, after a couple of thousand feet of climbing and a lot of sweating and swearing, we emerged at a viewpoint.....but the view was in the clouds.
    We had a picnic there in the company of a rather unfetching deer statue.
    Our return journey down into the valley was quicker but we were both numb with cold most of the way. We had to keep stopping for me to put my hands in Ian's armpits as I couldn't grip the brakes (essential).
    Back to the campsite for a hot shower and final camping dinner (curry of course). It is hard to imagine that this is our last night in the van this trip. Feels like home...
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  • Day 37

    Cantabrian calm

    July 1, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    After our night in the fairly busy seaside town, we packed up and cruised on to the north-facing foothills of the Picos nearer to Santander.
    We are in a lovely, rural, unspoilt campsite with lots of space and friendly hosts.
    We jumped on the bikes and spent the afternoon exploring all the local villages. We actually met a man walking in clogs on stilts. They are designed to avoid mud and cow poo apparently.
    Went to a village where the river emerges from the rocks of the mountain and is controlled by a fairy and the village has a list of the dates when the fairy has stopped the flow in the last 30 years.
    Possible the cowbells will keep us awake tonight..
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  • Day 36

    The road to nowhere

    June 30, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Moving on to the coast today. There are not many routes through the mountains but we chose a relatively major one. Well half way along, as we went through a steep and windy gorge, the road was stopped. They'd just covered up the signs and said no entry. So we had to take a long and scary, much windier, much narrower, much steeper route up into the mountain mists. In some parts the road had fallen away into the gorge, in others there were rocks which had fallen from above. There was very little traffic so we had no idea if we were going to end up on a dirt track. Anyway we made it down after some angst and about 90 minutes added to our journey. I had thought that the scary stuff was finished.
    On to Ribadesella on the northern coast. Got settled in and then walked a few km into town. Strolled the long promenade to the port and people watched the Spanish families doing their Sunday thing.
    We sipped cold white wine listening to a choir practising in the bar next door.
    Then a steep hike back home for dinner.
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  • Day 35

    Apologies to the bison

    June 29, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    The bison do exist after all.
    2 years ago 4 of them were introduced into the area round the reservoir along with a bunch of water buffalo. They had been badly treated somewhere and a couple of the rest of the herd had been beheaded by undesirables somehow... So now they have the whole Picos to roam.
    We cycled out along the lake northbound and visited a couple of the villages that had been relocated when the valley was flooded. They had saved their church facades and their bells and we saw some of the old roads and cemeteries peeping out of the water
    Managed to scrounge a coffee out of a very quiet hostel. Hard to keep saying spectacular scenery but it was indeed.
    Back to town with just enough time to visit the ethnographic museum in town.
    Fascinating place. Every house that was lost was photographically archived on the walls along with the names of the owners. Also there was a display on the walls of the Kings of Leon from 10th century to the 13th century. Never realised before now that the band was named after them.
    Back up the hill in the searing heat. Cachophony of jet skis on the lake in the village below, along with Saturday motorbikers screaming around the mountain bends.
    Then the wind whipped up and the clouds rolled in. Cool at last .
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  • Day 34

    Bison lost in translation

    June 28, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Up early to get a bike ride into the mountains before it got too hot. We swept over the bridge and up towards the dam that supports the reservoir. Then an uphill road to a tiny village called Remolina, which is nestled in between the crags. Had a completely incomprehensible conversation with an old lady as we sat in the square.
    Bit of a slog back to Riano but beautiful.
    We were back in the campsite by 2pm and had lunch in the shade.
    In the late afternoon we went back down to the village and went on a boat ride to the far reaches of the reservoir. We were told we might see bison but, as usual, we saw nothing. We think that the "bison" might be deer....
    Flogged up the hill to the campground again for alfresco dinner and watched the sun set behind the mountains.
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  • Day 33

    Swapping religion for God's country...

    June 27, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Had a slightly disturbed night as a group of Belgian motorbikers roared into the campsite late last night and set up a big table outside a cabin near us and drank till the wee hours. However earplugs saved the day.
    Up and away after brekky, still chasing northwards where it is supposedly a wee bit cooler.
    The scenery changed from dry flat yellow plains with scattered towns with storks on belltowers, to rolling green hills, and then at last we were in the mountains in the southern foothills of the Picos. We had a lovely journey through valleys and meadows, where wild horses were grazing.
    Our campsite choice was a bit of a worry. It had a poor website with no recent reviews but it is STUNNING.
    We have mountains all around, a huge reservoir below, a great campsite with a lovely owner.
    Ian BBQd white beans tonight for our Tuna salad.
    Climbed the hills above the campsite after dinner to watch the sun go down. Perfect.
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  • Day 32

    Double magnet day

    June 26, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    The temperature is rising so we wanted an easy day. We breakfasted in the shade and then walked up into Tordesillas. We wanted to see a royal convent : the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara. We had to wait a bit for an English speaking guide but there were only 4 of us, 2 Spanish and ourselves, so it was intimate. Extraordinary security too...our bags were x-rayed and a security guide followed us from room to room to make sure we behaved. It was stunning. Dating back to the 13th century with moorish influence to please King Peter the Cruel's mistress who was from Andalucia.
    Then later on the Queen of Castille, known as Juana la Loca because she was a bit deranged, was imprisoned here for 46 years. She had previously carried her dead husband (Felipe the Handsome) around Spain in a coffin and looked in at him episodically..
    The other big event here was in 1494. Spain and Portugal divided up the world (those lands discovered already) by running a line down the earth between the two poles. In the Treaty of Tordesillas the Spanish kept everything to the west of the line and the Portuguese kept everything to the east. The line was moved a bit west by the Spanish pope (370 leagues) to go around the Cape Verde Islands and consequently Portugal came away with Brazil. Big spoils... Silly old Spain. There was a great museum in the town explaining it all. We had a menu del dia, which was great, in the plaza major to while away a bit more of the hottest part of the day. Then a swim, BBQ and cool evening breezes by the river.
    First time we have felt compelled to buy 2 magnets in one day ....
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  • Day 31

    Keeping cool

    June 25, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    We started to head north to try to outrun the heatwave. Stopped our journey in Medina del Campo where there is a massive 15th century castle - Castille de la Mota. We walked around in the heat with an audio guide. Pretty exceptional stuff for the time.
    Then a quick shop to fill the fridge and we pushed on to Tordesillas. A historic town where Spain accidentally gave Portugal the whole of Brazil in a treaty by mistake.....
    The campsite has a big pool so we swam to cool off, had a beer to cool off, had a BBQ to cool off, and finally tried to cool off in the van with the fan.
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  • Day 30

    Secret Salamanca

    June 24, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    We had a leisurely start this morning, did a bit of laundry and caught up on admin. Also a wee bit of planning to avoid the impending heatwave that's about to strike. Heading North seems to be the best option.
    Then we cycled back into town. Bought some great pasties from the Salamanca equivalent of Gregg's and ate them in a park. Then we went to meet the chap (Mark from Leicester, lived in Salamanca for 16 years, teaches English ) for our guided walk. We were the only clients so it was a bit like seeing the city with a chum except his views on Brexit were a bit dodgy. He told us stuff we didn't know, and walked us to hidden places we hadn't seen so it was great.
    After we finished we went on his recommendation to climb a belltower in a private university where we had stonking views over the city. It was just what we had hoped for.
    We cycled back along the River Tormes to the campsite where our Dutch neighbours had rescued our smalls that had blown away...
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