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Spain 2011 - Galicia and Asturias

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Green Spain - Galicia and Asturias

Now back in Spain we drove down to the coast at A Guarda and along the rugged coastline stopping at Oia to look at the old Dominican monastery on the water's edge in a small cove then on to the resort of Baiona where we booked into Camping Bayona in a good location by a large beach.

Some days don't work out to plan. There was nowhere to park in the town as it was market day, then we got caught in heavy traffic through the suburbs of Vigo eventually extricating ourselves by finding the ring road and we stayed on the autopista up to Pontevedra, another large town, and gladly paid the €3 toll just to get back into the countryside picking up the main road to Santiago de Compostela and a welcome lunch break in a rare layby. We were soon among the sprawling suburbs, massive estates of blocks of flats, before reaching the city centre. We couldn't find the listed aire so headed for a campsite at Monte do Gozo to the west of the city but it was closed so drove back to the small campsite, As Cancelas, which turned out to be only two kilometres from the centre. Once we had found a small pitch on the steep terraces I was able to relax with a bottle of Sagres beer complete with a large piece of broken glass in it - he ho! tomorrow must be better.

Monastery at Oia
Monastery at Oia
Sunset at Baiona
Sunset at Baiona
Santiago protest camp
Protest camp in Santiago
It was! Santiago is supposedly the dampest place in Spain but we enjoyed glorious clear skies the next day so we walked into the centre hoping to visit the cathedral, art galleries and museums. However it was Ascension Thursday so most of the public buildings were closed. Luckily we discovered that there were many free street events including an orchestra, jazz band and folk dancers to entertain us. One troupe "Cantigas e Agarimos" were outstanding in their colourful Galician costumes. The ornate cathedral was packed for Midday Mass but we didn't see the amazing Botafumeiro incense burner being swung. We mingled with the many pilgrims who were arriving having completed the Camino de Santiago (or at least part of it; there are now several routes as it's so popular and officially it continues for another 75 kilometres to Cabo Finisterre). The main square was filled by one of the protest camps for jobs taking place in many Spanish cities.
Rotel Tour bus at Santiago
Tour bus with sleeping trailer

At the campsite there was a German Rotel Tours hotel bus and sleeping trailer - how on earth did they negotiate the narrow roads up to and on the site? An interesting way to travel - even cosier than our small campervan.

Another change of plans took us past the large port of A Coruña and we stopped at the small town of Betanzos with a large square in the centre and typical glass fronted buildings and other interesting sights including an old church and an Art Deco fronted shop. We continued to the large town of Ferrol looking for a supermarket. They are signposted as well as in France, but all the signs claiming it was 2 minutes away - if you know the right road which we didn't - and then it had a height barrier when we found it but luckily there was suitable parking nearby.

Betanzos church boar
Betanzos cross with boar

Betanzos art deco shop detail
Betanzos - Art Deco shop detail

We continued up the coast to the small resort of Valdovino noted for its lagoon and surfing beach for an overnight stop at the campsite then drove east diverting to the clifftop pilgrims church and holy well of San Andrés de Teixido which legend has it that all Spaniards should visit once in their lives. After a long diversion inland due to a satnav reading error and confusing new empty motorways we arrived at the small town of Mondoñedo set in a deep valley with a magnificent old cathedral hidden in the narrow streets and a free official aire and service point. After a peaceful night - the church bells thankfully stopped at 11 pm, we crossed into the Principality of Asturias and another small resort of Tapia de Casariego, deserted on a damp Sunday morning, and then east via the lighthouse set precipitously on the headland at Ortiguera, and the large harbour of Luarca where we couldn't find anywhere to park except on the headland by the cemetery. After a brief walk we continued along the coast to another faro at Cabo de Busto where there was a nature reserve with clifftop walks and a small car park where we spent the night.
A Galician Horreos corn store
Galician Hórreo (grain store)

The Costa Verde was living up to its name with sea mists and heavy rain as we reached the harbour at Cudillero with its colourful houses set on the steep cliffs. There was plenty of parking here and we explored the narrow lanes. From the number of restaurants it must be a popular place at times but was vitually deserted and as the rain was now incessant we headed to the nearby ACSI campsite.

Due to more dull weather we decided to head east on the motorway to bypass the industrial towns of Avilés with its steelworks and Gijón and turned south to visit the monastery of Valdediós set in a pleasant wooded valley where the church of San Salvador was consecrated in 893, then back to the coast at Playa la Vega where a motorhome aire was listed but the parking area had height barriers and the campsite was shut until July 1st. After a stroll to the beach and through the old village with several traditional Asturian hórreos (grain stores) we drove to the large campsite at Ribadesella for the night. From the campsite there were terrific views to the mountains of the Picos de Europa where we headed the next day.

Asturian horreo grain store
Asturian hórreo 

 Santiago cathedral
Santiago cathedral

Santiago de Compostela cathedral
Santiago cathedral west front

Cantigas e Agarimos Galician folk dancers

Betanzos glass galleried buildings
Betanzos glass fronted buildings

San Andres de Teixido
San Andrés de Teixido hermitage

Mondonedo cathedral
    Mondoñedo cathedral

Faro at Ortiguera    Ortiguera headland
  Faro at Ortiguera - a shear drop!

Luarca harbour
Luarca harbour


Valddios monastery old chapel
Valdediós - Church of San Salvador 

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