Monday, October 22, 2012

Pilgrim’s Progress

We are now in Santiago, the destination of the famed pilgrim trail ‘Camino de Santiago de Compostela’. OK so we didn’t walk here, but I have a great excuse. We’ve enjoyed watching the ‘pilgrims’ along the way and admired their steadfast determination to keep going in the drizzle and even heavy rain, rather than pop into the nearest Tapas bar and stay there. (This is of course what we would have done).

Anyway, I digress. We left you in Rioja and from there headed for the ‘Picos de Europa’, a small but stunning mountain range in northern Spain.

Had a lovely stopover in Burgos on the way, where we met Peter and Nia from the UK and their border terriers, Colin and Penny. The dogs spent the evening sitting on our laps, very pleased with themselves. Burgos has wonderful cycle tracks, making it easy to get around and see the sights, mainly a massive cathedral and loads of bars in a characterful old quarter.
Bought some new wellies in Burgos - plastic, shiny and leopard skin pattern!!!

The road into the Picos was a challenge, but Hilda the Hymer, averaging 35kms per hour, made it to Potes without mishap. The landscape was very dramatic - jagged granite ridgelines, sweeping valleys, deep gorges, pretty streams, all bathed in soft autumn hues.
The Road in the Picos

The campsite was sensational, with views to die for and horses to feed. Actually the horses were very cheeky and knew how to beg for food over the fence, and of course me being a sucker, bought them a bag of carrots, and Lawrence fed them our lettuce.
Our beautiful campsite
View from the our spot.

We did a bit of walking, but the ankle still prevents me from doing too much, so we were happy to wander around Potes and walk up to the Monastery, famous for a scrap of the true cross. The faithful come up here by the busload to glimpse a piece of wood encased in silver and gold, that was allegedly part of the cross that Himself was nailed to. I remain sceptical.
Town of Potes
Beggar horses

Out next stop was, surprisingly, an obscure wine region, El Bierzo, where they make wine from traditional local varieties. Reds from Mencia, and whites from Godello and Doña Blanca. We popped into a Bodega late on a Friday afternoon, whilst they were celebrating the completion of vintage and were so surprised by a couple of tourists from Australia popping in, that we got the grand tour.  They opened a bottle of their top wine for us to taste and gave us the remainder to take home for dinner. Of course Lawrence felt obliged to buy 6 bottles of their very well made wine.

From there we headed to Leon, but the weather was terrible, 8 degrees and raining. There is no campsite within cooee, so we were obliged to spend the night in a municipal carpark (legally). It was like sleeping in Luna Park. The cathedral is worth seeing for the stained glass windows, quite extraordinary, but really you wouldn’t go out of your way to see the city.

Next stop was Lugo – renowned for fully intact Roman Walls.  Well we roamed the roman walls in Hilda the Hymer, around and around, but couldn’t find anywhere to park, so just abandoned the idea of lunch in Lugo and headed to Santiago.

As there are so few campsites in Galicia, we have decided to spend a week or two here and hire a cheap car to see the NW coast.

Then we’ll be off to Portugal.

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