Tuesday, 28 August 2007

La Coruna and the northern Spanish coast

This post covers our escape from Santiago and our journey from La Coruna east along the Spanish coast - including the first ever sighting of a woman emptying a chemical toilet!

On Saturday 25th August we left Santiago around midday and then proceeded to get very lost and very stressed. I was following instructions on our beloved GPS but unfortunately I took the wrong exit and we ended up heading the opposite way, back towards Portugal! Eventually we got back on track and drove an hour north to La Coruna. This is quite a large city with dozens of high-rise apartment blocks and quite a bit of industry. We eventually got a park near the city centre, it was very busy as there was some event going on in town, police were barricading off the streets. One of the main reasons we came here is because in Santiago we saw a Lord of the Rings exhibition and the second part was in La Coruna. It only took half an hour to see the one in Santiago, but this one was much bigger as it was on 4 floors and it took us 2 hours to get round. There were lots of costumes, weapons, models, drawings and props from the film along with interactive TV screens which let you find out more about how they made the film. All in all it was fascinating.

Above: Piss easy! Sarah emptying the toilet
Below: Galician coastline

We then walked back to Ace along a park with lots of market stalls, the town was now getting very busy. From here we drove past the seaside promenade to an aire de service which was listed in our French book. When we got there the aire was very uneven, several cobblestones had been ripped out of the ground and one of the taps had been vandalized and gallons of water were going down the drain. Despite this initial unfavourable impression of the place, we spent a very peaceful night here.

The next morning we saw 3 motorhomes arrive who had obviously spent the night elsewhere and had come to fill up on water. It was here that I first witnessed a woman emptying a chemical toilet! The shock, the horror…. The toilet was being emptied by the fair hand of Sarah! She had decided recently she wanted the honour of being the first woman I’d seen to do it! In her words, she didn’t know what all the fuss was about doing this motorhome ritual as it was, if you will pardon the pun, a “piece of piss”.

From here we drove an hour and a half in a north-east direction towards the coast. The weather was grey and miserable and our mood dropped somewhat passing through several depressing looking towns. We stopped for lunch on the beach and despite the grey weather, got out for a walk to admire the beautiful coastline, reminiscent (though not as good as) the Great Ocean Road in Australia. A lifeguard was sitting on the rocks here, presumably just in case someone fell off the cliff into the violent waters below!

We continued driving for another hour and a bit then found a campsite right on the coast near the motorway. The sun was shining and I could almost taste the first bottle of San Miguel I had tucked away in the fridge. Unfortunately all of the plots free were a little bit damp and when driving into ours we got stuck. Not even our new grip tracks were working, Ace’s wheels were spinning around in the mud. This was quite embarrassing as many Spanish families were watching us! Four Spanish blokes came and very kindly pushed Ace into another plot, the only problem was it was very uneven. By this time the sun had disappeared and we were both thoroughly depressed! We finished the rest of the film Amelie we had started the night before and went to bed.

The next day the sun was shining and after our pancake breakfast went for a walk to the beach. The sand was quite nice here though the water had an odd black tinge to it! After having a chat to some cows grazing on the cliff we headed off from the campsite around 3pm. Checkout is usually 12 but since it’s almost the end of August they are being a little more relaxed now the crowds have died down.

Above: Me on Monday
Below: Sarah at Playa Joyel on Monday evening
Bottom: Playa Joyel on Tuesday

We hit the motorway and drove for 3 hours east along the coast towards Bilbao. The countryside was quite pretty in parts with the beach to our north and the Picos de Europea mountain range to our south. However, the visibility in many seaside locations isn’t great because of the mist that rolls off the sea and inland. We headed to a beachside campsite called Playa Joyel just past Santander and set up camp. SWe went for a walk at 7pm down to the beach. As we approached the wooden walkway leading down to the sand you could see the mist rolling into the campsite and visibility was pretty bad, you could barely see a huge rock promontory about 500 metres away.

We headed back to the campsite and decided to go explore the nature reserve which has animals roaming in “semi-liberty”. We saw deer (quite far away though), dogs, emus, goats, bulls, chickens. We came back to Ace and watched Casablanca while eating our dinner. This morning (Tuesday 28th August) we’ve been to the pool, the beach and generally lazed around in the sunshine. We are heading off inland about 3.30pm this afternoon to discover some of Navarra and then after that, who knows?

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