Week 1 – North and West of France, Basque Country & Asturias
I’m still in utter disbelief that this trip is actually happening. It wasn’t long ago that we were swearing at each other due to differences in packing skills. Now, 7 days into our travels, we’re getting into Viana do Castelo, Portugal and it feels great.
Day 1 – Aggressive driving aside, this first stretch looked a lot like England. It’s just like we’ve never left. On the maps is traced our first day! Monster drive from Calais to Rouen and camping for the night in Ranville. It was pouring down and I instantly thought: “I’m not mentioning this anywhere or to anyone. This must be Karma” – but I guess it’s all part of the fun.
Day 2 – We went to Sword Beach where the D Day landings occurred in 1944. The thought that thousands (British, Canadian, Americans, French) died even before they reached shore… it was unarming.
We then headed to Bayeux, home to the Bayeux tapestry. Some say it was made by William the Conquerer’s wife, depicting the Norman Conquest of England. I love my history, but it cost 9,50€ to see a 69 meter long carpet… needless to say that I didn’t go and poor Tom didn’t go either – he might be regretting bringing me along. Our family will dine tonight, tho!
The road took us through Nantes, into Parthenay, where we stayed for free in a lovely little village called Boismé. It was dry, lovely sunset, beautiful lake and a sky full of stars.
Day 3 – There’s a few advantages in taking the small roads to wherever you go.
– We use less petrol – unless you pass the land of the roundabouts and it’s stop and start.
– You see a lot more of what “real France” is – MASSIVE and empty! But beautiful.
We bypassed Cognac (much for Tom’s disappointment), and got to Bordeaux. The city was stunning and worth the stop. It is a young, vibrant city with loads of cafés and esplanades. Reminds me a little bit of Barcelona.
So much to see! We bought two huge baguettes for lunch and went back on the road to Dax. Finding a campsite in France it’s not hard, but finding a cheap and nice one can become a task. We were very lucky to find one that was so near the beach you could hear the waves. This was in Capbreton, called La Civelle – They need to work on their website, it is actually a lovely place.
Day 4 – It’s my dad’s 60th!! We made a very good time getting to Capbreton so we’re going to allow ourselves a bit more time in the Basque Country. Short drive into San Sebastián with a walk along the beach into Playa de la Concha, fantastic little town. If I knew what I know now, would definitely spend more time in San Sebastián, but we were keen on getting to Bilbao. It was alright… Lovely ice cream to!
We spent the night in Loredo in a campsite named Playa el Regaton. It was the cheapest and nicest campsite we’ve been so far.
A noise woke me up in the middle of the night, my first thought was:
– “They’re messing around with our pans!” Woke Tom up and all he said was “Maybe they’ll clean them.”
The noise carried on and we had to get up. The pans were safe, but the bin bag where we had a couple of tuna cans was being ransacked… We waited and a little hedgehog comes out, licking his lips. The pans were still there to be washed.
Day 5 – (Best day so far!) We went for a Run!!! 3 miles that felt like 20. Nice late leaving towards Cangas de Onís. Asturias is breath taking and we didn’t have time to explore the Picos da Europa, bit it’s on the list to come back to.
When we are planning the next day, we normally have a look at where we will be passing by on the map and google some pictures. We found this massive convent in the middle of the woods and decided to take a closer look. The way to Covadonga valley allows you to go back in time. We walked for a couple of miles on a wooden path and passed waterfalls and small water streams. When you get to the top and take in the whole scenario you can’t help but feeling emotional, whether you are religious or not. It makes you realise how small we actually are and how much we can achieve when we believe in something greater than ourselves.
We camped close to the beach once more. This was the most expensive so far, and the smallest one, but the view was priceless. After a walk on the beach I taught Tom how to catch Lapas and we had a small feast after I grilled them with olive oil and garlic. We had them in out little porch because it was starting to rain. Never seen wind like it! and the rain! Pouring!!! Still don’t know how the poles didn’t snap.
Day 6 – After a very tempestuous night we got up to a lovely, windy (very windy) sunny day. No breakfast because we ran out of most things.
Lugo was our next stop before Viana do Castelo, Portugal. It is the only city in the WORLD with an intact roman wall surrounding the city. Wouldn’t go back. We couldn’t find a single place selling bread. A disgrace…