Puebla de Sanabria Spain : October 2017
Previously on Parsleyspursuits; we had spent a wonderful few hours in the Douro Valley, but needed to get ourselves and ScootR back to Spain as sadly, our trip was sadly drawing to a close, and us suddenly finding a thousand and one spots that we really needed to and had to visit within the next three days. Not Going To Happen.
A magnificent road over the mountains separating Portugal and Spain leads us past vegetation showing off all the colors of Autumn with a slight chill in the air to back it up.
We are headed to the town of Puebla de Sanabria. It has a camp site next to the river which sounded good, except when we arrived it had just closed for the season. No worries though, we used one of our apps and found a wild camping spot right next to the river looking up to the castle. Apart from one other van( that arrived late and left early) we were all alone. We had already taken a walk in the village before we parked and found it was the usual picturesque castle, church and market square Spanish town. Saw a few places to have a bite or a drink, but we decide we have too much food in the van so we are cooking in tonight. We later read the village is known for its wolf sanctuary and environmental protection of the Iberian Wolf. This area and the surrounding Sierra de la Culebra is home to the largest number of wild wolves in Spain and in fact Southern Europe.
Our riverside spot was quiet and peaceful, we cooked dinner and went to bed early.
Up and on the road the next day quite early(for us) and now we are making our way up to the Northern (Atlantic)coast of Spain, the Asturias region.
We drive via Léon, we stopped off at the Carrefour. I don’t even remember why we went, because we did not need food! it was a pleasant diversion and once again I was blown away by the sheer choice of fresh seafood that is available and the prices are so reasonable. There is not one type of prawn, but an entire fish counter of shrimps and prawns. Even the calamari comes in about 10 different options. I would love to have this selection at my neighbourhood store.
Onwards we go heading north towards Gijon. Along the route we drive along a huge dam or reservoir and over a long, beautiful bridge. It was a little eerie as the water was really low and you could see the remains of buildings that are usually covered. We can see people walking around on the dry dam bed. I did a little research and found some interesting facts. This reservoir was completed in 1951 and when the floodgates were closed 16 towns disappeared under the waters. It has a dam wall eighty meters high, created by taking advantage of a narrowness of the land, which can contain a volume of more than 300 million cubic meters of water( wiki). I also read that due to the absolute lack on rain in Spain this past year , the dam is at its all time low of 4%! Cape Town you are not alone. This totally explained why all the people were walking along the dam floor and exploring the remains of the old villages that were normally under water. Interesting hey?
Candás/Carreño Spain : October 2017
Eventually we reached the coast at Gijón and made our way to the camp site chosen by my very clever husband. Wow what a camp site! Its on a mini peninsula and it’s terraced with most of the pitches facing the sea. Really amazing and we feel really privileged to be in this beautiful spot. The camp site is between 2 small towns. We decide to walk to the more popular one, Candás. It is a busy fishing town with a lovely centre and busy harbour . It also has beaches with some great waves that are very very popular with surfers. The walk into town is bracing as the weather is starting to get cold and the tide was right in so the waves were crashing right into the barriers. Reminded us a little of Sea Point promenade in Cape Town when the sea is rough and splashing all the unsuspecting walkers as they go by.
There is a great early evening vibe in the town as all the townsfolk are out and about, kids playing, parents promenading and old men chattering and drinking around the town square. We really love this way of life. Candás was an important fishing port in its day and in fact it was the main trading post for whaling between the Asturias and Ireland. All that is past now and its mostly tourism that brings in money. The tourists are mostly Spanish or Portuguese and of course surfers from around the world.( and us).
The campsite reception had recommended a restaurant which looked nice but quite pricey and also it’s on the main drag and you know we are not particularly keen on those. A little bit more of exploring and we see somewhere interesting that has a large number of locals all drinking and eating. We decided to try it and it was a great decision. The vibe was just right, the waiter was friendly and the people around us were enjoying themselves. In hindsight we realised we should have ordered food to share because the portions were just too big for one person. I ate a seafood rice dish(arroces zamburiñas or caldareta)that was really delicious and very typical of the area which is well known for its fresh fish as well asclams, scallops and prawns. See the pic below and drool. Chris has another Asturian favourite called cachopo, which is essentially thin-sliced meat, crumbed and filled with ham and cheese. ( Spanish veal cordon bleu).
Our best part of the evening was the Sidre (Cider) It is produced in large quantities in this area and judging by the tables around us is what the locals drink. The way to drink it is as follows: the waiter takes your bottle to a station to pour it with a container to collect the spillage. He pours it from high up and without looking at the glass, in fact he gets a far away stare going as he pours. He then hands it back to you into your hands (important, not on the table) and pours for the rest of the table. Then you down it. They don’t pour a huge amount so don’t worry you won’t get drunk in 10 min, but for the princely sum of €2.80 a bottle, we did have two!
All around the place was busy with families and groups of friends , it seems not many people go on date night like us. The group of ladies next to us were in their sixties , all dressed up and could they eat? When they arrived they didn’t really appear to order but just had a short convo with the waiter, shortly after course after course arrived each one more delicious looking than the next although they did seem to be giving the waiter a hard time about the quality of the ( to us) delicious looking platter of Jamon.
The sleep that night was fantastic with the waves lulling us to sleep. The next morning before we left we took another walk into town. This time we went into the harbour and had a look at the photographic display all along the harbour walls. These were pics through the years of the people and the town and it was amazing to see the changes. We decided we deserved a treat so off to the ice cream shop and this time I really think it was my bestest helado( ice cream) ever. Of course we could not resist walking into a bakery and so we left the town a couple of kilos heavier. It really wasn’t our fault as the baker was so friendly and ended up popping in some freebies for the road.
We really need to stop buying food and in my case I need to stop eating. We have 2 nights left on the road so we are heading towards Bilbao. We won’t make it today but we will find a stopping place along the way….lets see what happens.