Donkeys and Elephants

After Ribadesella we thought we’d give Llanes (easier to write than pronounce) a try. I know they have a shiny new aire, and I appreciate that €3 is only a modest amount to spend on a night’s accommodation for two, but the thing is tonight is night 55, we haven’t paid a cent for an overnight yet, we didn’t even want to stay there overnight, so it would be shame to break that record. 

We’d hoped to find a simple parking space, which is rarely difficult for a modest van like ours, and out of season, but the good folk of Llanes have decided to ban motorhome parking other than presumably in their aire. I can see their point to a certain extent, but we just wanted to have a quick nose around to see if the place was worth a proper visit. Anyway, Google will have to suffice for us Philistines. 

20k or so down the motorway we tried a Park4night which was just 4k up a road to a viewing point. We had to play the usual game of are we going to fit through this tiny village, which today entailed pulling over and me running ahead to check that we had at least a fighting chance of making it through. So here we are with amazing views across to the Picos mountains as they meet the sea. 

We did notice another motorhome parked just off the motorway near a cemetery and we wondered whether seeing us bomb up the hill next to them might encourage them to follow suit. I think it did and so we do have neighbours tonight and they’re from Morbihan in Brittany. 

After a super quiet night I awoke to Sophie photographing a local chap with his donkey and cart in the field adjacent to us. This was followed by a busy morning all round. I surfacing from my laptop for poached egg on toast & we then planned a stroll up to the nearest village, before continuing on our way. 

And who should appear around the corner, but our old friends we’d met in Galicia a few times, Jeremy and Deb. I have to say that we were in quite an obscure parking spot, in what I term Park4night’s “parking amongst nature” category. This spot was an absolute gem, and it was great to see D&J again, who planned to spend the night there. 

We sat and had coffee and biscuits watching the omenous dark clouds that dominated the panoramic Picos mountain range to the West, but we were in glorious sunshine. Choosing, again, to avoid another emotional goodbye, given that we’ll no doubt bump into them another day, we had a casual goodbye and left, just as it started to spit. 

We headed further East and had a really pleasant scenic ride in the countryside, briefly touching on the coast. Unfortunately three things upset Sophie’s delicate equilibrium. 1) I missed an opportunity to buy some super cheap diesel at under €1 because I was unable to read the price in time to make the motorway exit. 

2) My chosen route was so impressive that I hadn’t banked on the lovely waterside town of San Vicente de la Barquera, amazing vast beautiful buildings in Comillas, and the very promising ancient town of Santillana del Mar. As I had assumed that this would be a merely scenic country drive, I hadn’t done a complete parking review of the region to ascertain the optimum parking spots, so these had to be drive throughs. 

3) Hoping to placate Sophie I’d mapped in a Lidl visit, but hadn’t banked on a Lidl without a pastry section, so that didn’t go down at all well. 

Finally, we headed for the well-known motorhome aire at Cabarceno, a very large wildlife park set in beautiful surroundings, just a little South of Santander. Popular with all nationalities but a favourite for Brits arriving or heading home from Santander or Bilbao, so a sort of transit camp for UK travellers. 

So here we are for the night. If we do get disturbed by any of the wildlife tonight I’ll just send Sophie out to have a word, and she’ll be on particularly good form given her current pastry deficiency. 

Progress so far:

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