After a long chat with Carlos, the owner of the ‘Aire’ in Leon we headed on our way towards the mountains, promising to be back to visit the caves and more of the area. Carlos was so friendly it felt like we had become family over the weekend, he insisted that we call him if we have any problems at any point in Spain, whether motorhome related or not….a top guy.
We were planning to take the scenic route to Oviedo, but as it has snowed recently and on Sunday morning it was -2 when Keith went for a run, we decided to play it safe and go on the toll road which to be fair wasn’t too bad….
However, following a 4 km tunnel we soon arrived into a slightly more dramatic cold and wet looking mountain range ….
We were heading to Oviedo as somehow or another Mika is now 12 months old and needs to be serviced. We tried several places near Madrid and in Salamanca but unfortunately with the ‘crisis’ Spain doesn’t have many motorhomes, even less Burstner approved service centres and even less who appear to want to deal with us. We had been advised that there was a place between Oviedo and Gijon who we had been trying to contact but they had been closed for annual holiday. for the last couple of weeks. Finally when I did manage to get through, the lady who answered the phone to me wasn’t particularly helpful, but assured me that if we came into the showroom she was sure they would be able to sort it (whatever ‘it’ was) out…… not what I would call a promising start, but nevertheless we decided that we were best to give it a go rather than bypass it and leave it until Portugal.
The ‘Aire’ in Oviedo was about 6kms outside in the same direction as the motorhome place, so we arrived on Sunday afternoon, went for a wander around the ‘suburb’ before it started to rain and settled in for a quiet night. When we arrived at the motorhome place (Caravanas Principados) on Monday morning we were surprised to see three Burstner 55 motorhomes in the showroom … things were looking up! The guy who we spoke to was much more helpful, in fact apologetic that he couldn’t fit us in this week, but would be happy to put the service in the diary for next Monday (17th).
So, with a week to kill in one of our favourite parts of Spain we decided to walk into Oviedo for the afternoon and then we agreed we would move to Gijon for the rest of the week.
Oviedo is a university town with a beautiful old town. In the summer it is a little touristy and can get quite expensive – but at this time of year you can get some lovely food, cider and wine at very reasonable prices. We stopped for a glass of wine whilst out and about and a large glass (to be fair it is just what they decide to give you) was 1 Euro 10 each – cheaper than coffee.
Before heading off to Gijon, Keith cooked up a delicious breakfast of Morcilla, Faranato, Baked Beans (we still have a couple of tins) and fried eggs….. luckily I had been for a run in the morning as there was enough lard to sink a battle ship – but incredibly tasty. Unfortunately the Faranato had a few spots of mould on the outside (must be something to do with the warm weather we are having) so we will need to finish it in the next few days.
Gijon is only 20kms from Oviedo, but it is on the coast and it was nice to see the sea again. Like Oviedo, we have been here three times and love it, although thinking about it we weren’t quite sure why until we remembered the food, wine and cider 🙂 It isn’t a particularly beautiful place, as although it has a very long promenade covering two bays and a very pretty old town, it also has a massive port and a lot of industry and has apparently recently been named as one of the most polluted cities in Spain.
We parked in an Aire almost on the beach next to the Port for the first two nights, which once the traffic died down (and the helicopter stopped hovering above us) was actually quite peaceful. The walk into the centre was about 3.5kms, but there were lots of local shops, bars and restaurants close-by so we had everything we needed on our doorstop and better still, no tourists. To give you an example of the kind of food you get here we went out to one of the local restaurants for lunch on Wednesday where 9 euros a head gave us a litre of wine, A starter of Chicken Soup with noodles, then a choice between Spaghetti Carbonara or Baby squid, tomato and potato stew, following that a choice between Chicken escalope or Sardines with chips all finished off with a choice of homemade desserts or ice cream or yoghurt and coffee. I chose ‘Tart du Turron’ which is Nougat Tarte ….. probably one of the best dessert I have had in a long time … coming close to my Tarte au Citron 🙂 I can’t really explain the flavour / consistency without making it sound a bit sickly, but it had a very light sponge base, an almondy/ nougat cream mousse which was light but nutty topped with a caramalised nutty crust …. as I said difficult to explain, but yummy. Keith opted for chocolate cake which was definitely laced with something and was also delicious. It was surprising that we could actually walk out of the restaurant .. I have no idea how they manage to eat this kind of food every day, although it does explain why a lady we met in the laundrette in the morning said she put on 8kg when she first moved to Gijon 🙂 …..
As we are only supposed to stay on the Aire for 48 hours we decided to move to a car park at the other end of town for a night where you can park motorhomes overnight. Whereas the Aire and the Port are at one end of one beach in Gijon, the car park is right at the other end of the other beach in a park looking out over the beach… very tranquil (if it had water and waste facilities we would stay here longer than just a couple of nights).
We headed out on Thursday night to try out some of the local ‘Sidra’ bars on this side of town and including a slight diversion to a wine bar for a couple of glasses of very nice ‘house red’ each at 1 euro 20 a glass, we managed to feed ourselves and have plenty of wine/cider for under 15 euros … now, you wouldn’t call the bar snacks particularly healthy but we had a good variety including chicken wings, chorizo, tortilla, Jamon and Cheese on baguette and chips – we will endeavour to eat more vegetables tomorrow 🙂