Category Archives: Spain

Carnival in La Coruña, 15th and 16th February 2015

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Original street lights in the neighbourhood of Montealto

Original street lights in the neighbourhood of Montealto

As my visit to La Coruña coincided with the Carnival celebrations, my good brother Fernando and his charismatic girlfriend, Sonia, took me under their wing and drove me all around town and surroundings, as the weather was rather windy and often wet, to show me the sights and soak up the atmosphere.

Playa de Santa Cristina, a bit wet and misty today

Playa de Santa Cristina, a bit wet and misty today

They also took me to a beach just out of town where our parents used to take us when we were children, for which purpose we used to take a boat from the Marina and this was always one of our summer holiday treats. We were always so excited to get on that boat and sail to La Playa de Santa Cristina!  But today, Fernando drove us there.

Promenade along the beach of Santa Cristina

Promenade along the beach of Santa Cristina

So this was our first stop on Sunday morning, where we managed to get a few shots, including the ‘Angulo Fernando’ as you can see in this picture.

Angulo Fernando

Angulo Fernando

Effective, isn’t it? This angle is great to include tall buildings and features in photos which otherwise wouldn’t have been complete if using the camera in either landscape or portrait mode. I love this angle and I will be sure to use it in future.

This is my shot of same spot with Fernando and Sonia before being told about the 'angulo Fernando'

This is my shot of same spot with Fernando and Sonia before being told about the ‘angulo Fernando’

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At Santa Cristina, we had a drink at the lovely seafront bar of La vinícola and then we headed back for our walk along the Paseo Marítimo and a quick visit to La Torre de Hércules just to give me a chance to photograph it for my blog (published last week).

Locals braving the elements for the town folk's enjoyment.

Locals braving the elements for the town folk’s enjoyment.

Even young kids joined in the evening celebrations and were happy to pose for my blog!

Even young kids joined in the evening celebrations and were happy to pose for my blog!

After another drink and lunch at their flat, we parted our ways until Monday evening, when people dressed in Carnival fancy dress were expected to ‘patrol’ the old part of town, and we weren’t disappointed, as lots of fun-loving locals had made the effort to dress up and face the rain and the wind for everyone else’s enjoyment.

More cheerful Carnival illuminations

More cheerful Carnival illuminations

We finished our most enjoyable evening at the Mardi Gras Club (very aptly named for the occasion), where we were lucky enough to watch and listen to the excellent band Los Claretes perform for about 90 minutes. They do covers of old Pop and Rock & Roll anthems, both foreign and Spanish, and we all had a wonderful time and a chance to let our hair down, boogying and singing along.

Band Clarete performing at the Mardi Gras Club

Excellent band Los Claretes performing at the Mardi Gras Club

Punters having fun!

Punters having fun at the Mardi Gras club

Sonia and Fernando joining in the fun

Sonia and Fernando joining in the fun

When the club shut, I said my sad goodbyes and headed back to my niece’s flat walking along the seafront and trying to capture the charming look of the town with all the lights on, as well as the light from La Torre de Hércules lighthouse. Here are the results: think Impressionism if you wish…

Playa del Orzan at night, looking towards Playa de Riazor

Playa del Orzan at night, looking towards Playa de Riazor

Sand barrier to protect promenade, looking towards La Torre de Hercules

Sand barrier to protect promenade, looking towards La Torre de Hercules (you can just about see its light)

La Coruña, Galicia, Spain, 14th-17th February 2015

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La Torre de Hércules and Statue of Breogán, a Celtic King

La Torre de Hércules, Roman lighthouse, and Statue of Breogán, a Celtic King

When I talk about home in Spain, I am referring to La Coruña. This is the place where I grew up from the age of 5 to 18, where I went to school and college, where I met and played with my childhood friends, where I celebrated my successes and cried about my failures, where I first fell in love and where I decided I was going to travel the world on the long afternoons walking along the beach and around La Torre de Hércules – the oldest lighthouse in the world dating back to Roman times and a UNESCO World Heritage site – looking out at sea, always wondering what there would be beyond the horizon, fostering my thirst to learn languages and, in short, made me who I am.

La Playa de Riazor, looking towards La Torre de Hércules

La Playa de Riazor, looking towards La Torre de Hércules

It has occurred to me that, with all our motorhome travels, we have only been once to La Coruña, back in the summer of 2010, as it is a very long journey from England, and I felt I was getting homesick again (a feeling best expressed in gallego by the term of ‘morriña’, often shared by the many emigrants who over the years felt obliged to leave this stunning region of Galicia in the north west of Spain in search of work, meaning a longing to come back).

Playa del Orzán, looking towards the Millenium Obelisk

Playa del Orzán, looking towards the Millenium Obelisk – Bring me that horizon!

So today, I would like to pay my little humble homage to this attractive and inviting seafaring town, with so much to offer, both to the locals and visitors and where most of my family still live.

Plaza de Portugal near the Deportivo Football Club and Playa de Riazor

Plaza de Portugal near the Deportivo Football Club and Playa de Riazor

I was lucky enough to stay with my beautiful niece, Susana, her husband and daughter in their flat very close to La Playa de Riazor, the beach we frequented as children during the long summer holidays and where I kept gazing out at sea knowing that one day I would follow that horizon.  They live in a prime spot, perfect to begin my walk along the beach towards the old part of town or Ciudad Vieja.

Walking along from Riazor to Orzán beach

Walking along from Riazor to Orzán beach

It was Susana who was kind enough to organize a session of ‘chocolate con churros’ (thick hot chocolate sauce served with a crispy doughnut-like pastry but in cut in strips) in a ‘churreria’ in the neighbourhood with all my brothers and sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces and in-laws. I had a fabulous time and I felt very humbled and honoured about so many of them coming to see me: it really felt like a fiesta. If you have never had chocolate con churros on your visits to Spain, I urge to have it next time you’re there: you’re bound to fall in love with it and, even more than Paella or Sangria, is a very integrate part of the Spanish culture, loved by all, young and all, and usually to be had in the late afternoons, say 5pm onwards.

My big family, gathered for chocolate con churros to greet me

My big family, gathered for chocolate con churros to greet me

I am also taking this opportunity to introduce my family to you, as those of you who have been following my blog for a while and regularly commented on my posts, I have come to think of as friends and it seems to me that this blog is no longer solidly about my travels, but about you as well.

Chocolate con churros

Chocolate con churros

My wonderful family

My wonderful family

I leave you with some shots around the town.  I hope you like it and will inspire you to visit soon.  Enjoy!

The Octupus on the Paseo Maritimo, a new and populat addition to the town

The Octopus on the Paseo Maritimo, a new and popular addition to the town – octopus is one of the popular local dishes and simply delicious

The Millenium obelisk and Tower of Hercules in the background

The Millennium Obelisk on the Paseo Maritimo and Tower of Hercules in the background

The Millennium Obelisk, facing La Torre de Hercules

The Millennium Obelisk, facing La Torre de Hercules

The Bubble Lift on the Paseo Maritimo to El Mirador or viewpoint

The Bubble Lift on the Paseo Maritimo to El Mirador or viewpoint

La Torre the Hercules, the town's symbol and a UNESCO World Heritage site

La Torre the Hercules, Roman lighthouse, the town’s symbol and a UNESCO World Heritage site

typicla houses in El Casco Viejo or old town

typicla houses in La Ciudad Vieja or old town

This reminded me of France

This attractive house reminded me of France

Typical houses in the old part of town

Typical houses in the old part of town – La Ciudad Vieja

La Calle de los Vinos (Wine Street) where everything happens.  Excellent seafood too!

La Calle de los Vinos (Wine Street) where everything happens. Excellent seafood too!

Entering the Main town square or Plaza de Maria Pita

Entering the Main town square or Plaza de Maria Pita – Notice the sign for Meson del Pulpo or Octopus House

La Plaza de Maria Pita (a local heroine who helped fight the English in 1589

La Plaza de Maria Pita (a local heroine who helped fight the English in 1589) and Town Hall

Statue of Maria Pita, local heroine who defended the town against the English invasion in 1589

Statue of Maria Pita, local heroine who defended the town against the English invasion in 1589

Fine restaurants and bars are to be found under the archers in La Plaza de Maria Pita

Fine restaurants and bars are to be found under the archers in La Plaza de Maria Pita

la Ciudad de Cristal (Crystal City) facing the main Port

la Ciudad de Cristal (Crystal City) facing the main Port

La Ciudad the Cristal (Crystal City) opposite the Port

La Ciudad the Cristal (Crystal City) opposite the Port, undergoing renovation at the moment

More archers holding bars and restaurants under Crystal City

More archers holding bars and restaurants under Crystal City

Etang Leon, Saturday 21st Agusut 2010

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Paseo Maritimo in La Coruña

Well, a lot has happened since the last entry.  We set off as planned and left Pepo at La Coruña airport and did our shopping in Al Campo, but a couple of hours later the exhaust pipe broke into two just outside Guiteriz and had to be towed back to the nearest Peugeot Garage, which happened to be in Betanzos.  As luck would have it, they didn’t have that particular part, which had to be ordered from Madrid and, being holiday and Fiesta season, nothing could be done until the following Thursday 18th August.  There was nothing to be done but wait and after a telephone call to my sister Nieves and brother Tito, we were back in La Coruña before 7 pm.

We spent 6 days in La Coruña and tried to make the most of the extra time by visiting an Art Gallery, enjoying a beautiful Misa Rociera (Andalucian Mass), sang by members of the Casa Andaluz in La Coruña, walks in the impressive Paseo Maritimo and docks and a couple of meals in nice and cheap restaurants as a thank you to my family for their kindness and welcome.

I particularly enjoyed Magdalena’s and Guillermo’s company, in whose flat we stayed, and getting to know the latter a bit better.  I even managed to show Magdalena how to use Facebook and she was happy to open a profile: I hope she uses it to keep in touch!

Pulpo (Octopus) in Paseo Maritimo

It was funny to have so many people visiting the flat at the same time (14 at one point), like the good old days when we all lived there with my parents.  Unfortunately Magdalena was suffering from sciatica  again and the last couple of days she was in pain and couldn’t join us for the gorgeous Chinese meal, so it was just Adon, Guillermo and I.

When Thursday finally arrived, we were dismayed at the news that the exhaust pipe hadn’t arrived and couldn’t be delivered until 23rd Agust, so nice mechanic offered to weld piece together and it was done by 1.00 pm.  Being lunchtime, we had to wait until 3.00 pm for them to open again and for Tito to come and pick us up.  So, with one thing and another, we were on our way at about 4.30 pm and stopped at Playa Tauran again, as we’d been very impressed by it on the way to La Coruña.

On Friday, we set off for Playa Antolin, just before Llanes, and camped wild right on the beach and, apart from a coupe of irritating neighbours, we had a lovely afternoon and evening.  I cooked a Spanish omelette with pimientos de Padron and had an early night, as we were planning to set off early this morning.

Plaza de Maria Pita

Los Manzanos, Sta Cruz, 12th August 2010

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Diary entry by Peter Saysell

Tonight is our last night in Los Manzanos.  It’s been very quiet and relaxing and we have been to the beach and in the sea.  Floppy has been into La Coruña a couple of times and Tito, etc came out to the campsite to have a drink.  The weather today has been a bit cloudy in the morning, but much better in the afternoon.  Everything is charged up and we are ready to go.  Tomorrow it’s off to Carrefour and a big shop and then we drop Pepo at the airport.  He’ll fly back and then we’ll leave for a ‘shortish’ drive to the coast.  We’re not really sure where we’ll be stopping, but I’ve put loads of water in just in case.

Los Manzanos was a good break and, despite lacking a decent dog walk, it was a success.  Tomorrow off we go again!  Only 16 nights left, though: BOO!  A rough prediction is 4 nights across.

Playa de Santa Cruz, Camping Los Manzanos, 7th August 2010

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My family in our motorhome

It was great fun last night. Maria Teresa (my eldest sister) turned up at 4.30 pm knocking on the door of the motorhome, which was a lovely surprise.  We walked to the beach with her dog Odin and then she carried on with her walk, while we stayed on the beach, where Adonis had a swim and a very well deserved rest.  She came back at 6.30 as agreed and we started worrying when all the others were late, so she phoned and turned out they were all on the bus, which was delayed due to roadworks (what a surprise!).

They all arrived about 1 hour later than agreed and I showed them the van’s facilities, took a couple of pictures and went for a meal at a bar nearby. It was lovely to see everybody, including Tito (my youngest brother) and his girlfriend Sonia, as I didn’t know they were coming too, and, of course, it was a pleasure meeting Emilio (my nephew in law) and seeing Susana (my niece) looking so happy after their recent wedding in May.

So we had gorgeous ‘raciones’ of local specialities, like pulpo, chipirones, ham and cheese, fish croquetas and fish pie (empanada gallega).  I ate so much I wasn’t even hungry at breakfast or lunch.  Magdalena (my 3rd eldest sister) wrapped some left-overs in serviettes, which we had this lunchtime.

Enjoying local specialities

After the meal we said our goodbies and agreed to meet on Wednesday or Thursday in order to have another meal before we go back east.

We took Bramble for evening walk and enjoyed the stunning sunset by La Torre de Hercules, of which I couldn’t resist taking several shots.  Then we went to bed and heard the fireworks going off, but too tired to get up and watch.

We got up at 8 am and set off at 9.15 to do big shop at Carrefour.  Then we got lost when we took the wrong lane on the motorway and ended up using TomTom to get us back to Montrove, where we were able to follow road to Oleiros and find campiste at Santa Cruz.  It’s a gorgeous site, although it’s changed since we were here 8 years ago.  We’re camping under some elm trees with some welcome shade and have been to the lovely beach and pool.  We’ll be here for at least 3 days, although I’d like to stay longer if Adon agrees.

Sunset in La Coruna

Sunset by La Torre de Hercules

 

 

 

I am cooking tuna steaks for Adon and myself and noodles for Pepo!

 

 

La Coruña, Friday 6th August 2010

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La Torre de Hercules

We are in La Coruña at last, as far west as e intend to go on this trip, unless we decide to visit Finisterre next week, but we are not sure yet.

It’s been a horrible drive on that awful national road N634 from Ribadeo, past Mondoñedo and all the way to Villalba, where we re-joined the autovia.  The national road was full of holes and ridges, very windy and steep in places and it was very trying for Adonis, who drove all the way.  It’s a shame that the E70/A6 motorway is only half built: it would have saved a lot of time and bother.

So we made it here for 1 pm, but the road to La Torre de Hercules (the oldest working lighthouse in the world, dating back to Roman times, and a UNESCO monument and museum) was shut and had to come back round through city, which was another nightmare, due to the sheer volume of traffic, so we made our way back towards the beach and followed the Paseo Maritimo all the way to this car park, right by the Torre and the monument to Breogan.

Breogan Momument

Sunset at La Torre de Hercules

I’ve phoned my family and we’ve agreed to meet at 6.30pm by the monument.  We had lunch soon after arriving in car park at 2 pm and Pepo and I have just come back from walking Bramble round the path surrounding the Torre and taken pictures of lovely ragged cliffs and sea.  Adonis is having a siesta and we’re going to rest for a bit before meeting family.

I’d like to add that camping at Taurán was absolutely marvellous, as was the beach itself, and we’ll try and stop there again on our way back east.

Lighthouse in action

        

View from around Torre de Hercules

Playa Tauran, Luarca, 4th August 2010

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We’re at a charming campsite near the border between Asturias and Galicia.  After a quick visit to ‘El Arbol’ supermarket in Luanco – where I lost my new summer hat- we set off at about 10.30 this morning and had a quick stop at the quaint port of Cudillero, but it wasn’t really suitable for overnight staying, even though it was allowed, so we decided to push westwards to Luarca, which was the original plan anyway.

The charming port of Cudillero

We got here just before 1 pm and are camped under a pine tree, which provides some shade, so no awning needed.  It’s a bit overcast and cooler than yesterday, but it’s actually welcome.

we’ve just had lunch and I’ve managed to do my washing already and it’s now drying on the lines provided.  Adon and I tried to walk down to beach on very steep steps, but it was a rather long and windy path, so he’s now gone on his bike to try the other way.

Pepo’s happy because he’s finally charged his laptop and checked his e-mails and applications for his film cast and I’m charging the battery for digital camera.

We’re hoping to stay here for a couple of nights before arriving in La Coruña and visit my family and where we plan to stay for a week.  I expect we’ll all try the beach tomorrow if it’s sunny and if not, we’ll just relax.

the secluded beach of Playa Tauran

Playa Tauran

I am cooking spicy chicken with couscous tonight to compete with my lovely paella last night, but first we must walk Bramble, read, etc

MUY IMPORTANTE:  FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS, MARICARMEN.

Beautiful flora at Playa Tauran

Luanco, Tuesday 3rd August 2010

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Luanco's beach

 

view of pier from free parkint spot

What a find of a spot!  We’re on top of a cliff in a free public carpark overlooking the beautiful bay, beach and beyond.  It’s been a very hot day and, as we arrived here at 12.30 pm, have been able to enjoy it all afternoon.  There was just one motorhome when we arrived, but it’s now full.  However, I’m sure most of these people will leave by 8 or 9 pm.

We got up just before 9 am, had breakfast and then Adon and I walked into town in Llanes to La Plaza de Abastecimientos, where we bought ingredients for paella.  We had a long wait at fishmongers, even though it had only just opened at 10 am and that was followed by quick visit to small shop for wine, breakfast cakes for Pepo and spices for paella.  We set off at 10.45 am, so it was a shortish and comfortable drive here. The sea is lovely after the initial shock and there’s ample space on the very hot sand.  I was surprised, however, to find toilets cost 40 cents a go!  Still, there are lots of showers and drinking water outlets for free, so can’t complain too much.

Parking spot on cliff top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

excellent dog walk on cliff top

I think we’ve given up on following suggestions from internet info sheet and are following our noses and instincts  instead, which have proved far more successful.  So who knows where we’ll end up tomorrow?  We’re following the national/coastal roads west, all the way to La Coruña in north west Spain.

Luanco's harbour

Playa Toro, Llanes, Monday 2nd August 2010

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Overview of Llanes seafront from promenade.

This is more like it!  After a short drive of just under 1/2 hour, we arrived at one of my favourite towns in Spain.  The young couple parked next to us in Getaria showed us their motorhome guide and told us we could park here for free overnight.  So we arrived this morning before 11 am and got ample space in carpark overlooking the beach and with plenty of green space for Bramble to walk and go to the toilet.

Adonis and I walked into town to buy food and drinks and a stamp to send postcard to my sister Mari Carmen, whose birthday is on the 4th August.  Not sure she’ll get it in time, but I can al least try!

It’s not a sunny day, but warm enough to sit on the beach and to go for a swim, which Adon and I have done already, followed by drinks at bar and lunch in van.  I bought some ‘membrillo’ (quince jelly) this morning, so I enjoyed it with my cheese earlier on (Quince and cheese taste like a kiss).

LlanesToro Beach

Now Adonis is having a siesta, Pepo ‘s reading his ‘Useless Information’ book and I’m going to read mine.  I’ll be cooking hotdogs tonight, so nice and easy.  Before that, I hope to walk into town again and take more pictures of harbour, pier, etc.  With a bit of luck, we’ll stay here for a couple of days: there are toilets, showers, a beach, lovely walks , a bar… What else would you ask for?

Aire at Toro Beach

Pier at Llanes

Llanes Quay

Los Picos de Europa in background.

Pechon (Cantabria) Sunday 1st August

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Another wild goose chase today.  We started off at 8.45 am from Getaria heading for the ‘Area de Servicios del Lago del

Beach at Pechon

Acebo’ in the Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabárceno, but again, when we got there, we were deeply disappointed to find that the entry fee was 20 Euros per adult!  We quickly made a u-turn and after one more unlucky attempt, we ended up here, at the ‘Las Arenas’ campsite, just a few kms west of San Vicente de la Barquera.  It’s a huge campsite on serveral levels leading down to the beach, where we have already been for a walk and a swim (in Adonis’s case).  It has the usual features of this area of rocks and caves and interesting walks around, perfect for Bramble.  One drawback at the campsite is that the electric hook-up connexion box is too narrow for our lumpy cable end and cannot buy adaptor until 5 pm and we’ve been here since 1.30 pm, so we’ve been running on gas instead.  We’ll try again later.

Another little disappointment for Pepo was that wifi wasn’t working and the IT bloke is not coming until tomorrow, being Sunday today, but we’re only staying here one night as this pitch is costing us 37 Euros a day!  By far the most expensive and disappointing campsite yet: happy to charge top premiums when not all the services are available: despicable and will not come here again.

Well, we’ve just been to supermarket to buy ‘alargador’ (extension lead) but they are out of stock.  What a poor show!Hopefully they won’t charge us for electricity.

Cliffs on beach at Pechon

 

Idyllic spot, but overpriced campsite at Pechon