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Travelling Spain with Two Dogs & a Parrot

With a good internet connection, I can work remotely from anywhere, so my husband Rob & I took advantage of this & are travelling Spain with our pets & everything we own packed into an estate car with roof-box.

Settling in to our first home
10 August 2018 @ 15:24

Rob in our Galician homeRob had a high-spec tower PC to cope with his music programmes, so despite this taking up lots of space with accompanying amp, speakers & effects machine, it came with us. (The picture is his setup in our 2nd home in Galicia)

Shall I mention that we brought his guitar & cahonita too?

But then I had my sewing machine...

Anyway we were surprised when the PC worked after travelling so many miles in the car & on the high seas - except it didn't.  After a few days in our first rental, it seemed to overheat & turn-off so we decided to get it repaired.  Googling computer repair shops, we chose one in a unit on Gijon University campus over one in the city centre due to perceived ease of finding the store & being able to park.

Had we had to traipse on such an journey on holiday, I would have been less than happy, however this was our life with all the errands necessary to live.  After getting lost on the university campus, with the willing assistance from a couple of Spaniards, we eventually found the office.  But it was shut - our first experience of the long spanish siesta.

No matter, we headed for a cafe & sat outside to enjoy a dish-of-the-day lunch.  Returning a couple of hours later, the computer company office was still closed, so we reverted to Google & headed to our second choice in Gijon town.

Arriving at around 3.30pm, the store was closed until 4pm so we sat on the sea-front with an ice-cream watching the clouds gather.

The assistant at PC Box spoke enough English for us to explain & we left the PC with confidence that he'd be in touch after the weekend.

Saturday dawned wet & windy so we stayed in the dingy north facing lounge, peering at the sea through the mist & sadly, I caught-up on emails.  As I was back at work part-time on the Monday & due to moving, not having another full weekend available in the area, we headed out to sight-see on Sunday.  Expecting it to be busy, we none-the-less drove to Covadonga in the Picos de Europas national park.  We're from Derbyshire & it was so reminiscent of Matlock Bath!  The road in was busy, with cars parked on the verges & despite only costing €2 to park, chaos as drivers attempted to find somewhere for free.  There were umpteen lycra-clad cyclists adding to the traffic jams, so without stopping we spun round & away.  The valley below was packed with gift shops & coach friendly restaurants so we carried on futher, through a busy town on market day - so like Bakewell, it was disconcerting!

So we drove on, up a narrow gorge, the road winding for miles.  It was very dramatic, but too narrow to park, no-where to stop & snap a few photos.  According to my map, beyond the canyon, further up the mountain, there was a lake, so perhaps somewhere to stop.  The mountain views upwards were breathtaking & with trees in their autumn colours, the temperature remarkably warm.

But there was no lake next to where we drove :-(  Obviously there was a dam somewhere as the wide valley was completely dry.  We were high, but travelling back along another road (the CL-635 in Leon Province) the gently sloping fertile valley indicated otherwise.  A plateau in the hills, when we'd passed through, we were soon descending steep mountain roads again.

Approaching the coast & driving past Langreo, the beautiful scenery was replaced with a very industrial valley with many mineral mines.  We'd noticed that the rural houses in Asturias were well maintained, either due to profitable farming or Sidre-making businesses or holiday homes.  This was the industrial heart, necessary, but not that pretty.

Driving along the motorway after a dry day with sunny spells, we approcahed a 2km tunnel in the late afternoon sun & arrived at the other end into a different country!  It was misty, damp & cold at the other side & a great indication of how the mountain range affects the coastal weather in Asturias.

The beginning of October, Monday 2nd was a lovely warm sunny day, so afer working most of the day, we headed out for a meal.  Successfully finding the original local restaurant reccommended by our host at around 4.30pm, we sat outside in the sun & wondered why no-one came out to serve us.  After ten minutes or-so, thinking perhaps we'd not been seen, Rob went inside to order, only to return disappointed that they were closed.

No matter, we went to Villivisiosa, but found the same thing "Too late for lunch, but too early for dinner", we were told, so unable to treat ourselves to a meal!

Used to eating around 5pm-7pm, we struggled with the Spanish siesta & late hours of eating at the beginning our stay.  It took the hot summer before we adjusted to late evening meals. The Spanish eat late then start work relatively late at around 10am the following day, splitting their workday with a long break in the afternoon before returning to work well into the evening. It was strange to drive around town in the evening in rush hour traffic, but pleasant to be able to stroll around a town full of activity well into the night.

Following this bright day, it was a miserable wet week so I stayed-in & worked.  As our experience with this accommodation proved, it was best to initially book a new place for a short while, just in case it wasn't suitable.  This meant using holiday accommodation websites which wasn't the cheapest method, however, most holiday lets provided all facilities all inclusive.  Therefore, we budgeted by adding up the cost of all monthly bills we'd paid in the UK (rent, council tax, water rates, telecoms, insurance, heat & power etc) to give a more realistic figure.  After accommodation, our basic living costs were for food & fuel.

As we had no set schedule or destination in mind, our temporary homes were always dependent upon hosts who accepted pets, had internet & a garden.  This limited our choice & being unable to find anywhere suitable in Asturias (it would have been nice to spend more time near the sea), we found a place around three hours drive inland in Galicia.

As mentioned, we'd struggled to find a decent size supermarket so shopped at small local stores (actully happy to put some income into the local economy), but wondered on more than one occasion where the locals buy food!  On the very last evening before departing, we drove back a different way into Villaviciosa & found a large square with a central park & restaurants, grocers & supermarkets all the way around!  All the times we'd been into town, walked the streets & completely missed this area.  We were later to prove again that you need more than a few days in a place to find all facilities & become familiar with everything a community has to offer.

During the week we fetched Rob's PC back & he happily set this back up in the lounge in the main house.

However, in the middle of the week a Dutch WOOFA girl arrived in her camper van & was installed into rooms adjacent.  All of a sudden the dynamics changed as our hosts who had been missing for most of the time were suddenly there & attentive, cooking & ensuring Twink was settled.

We felt in the way.  We were paying guests, forced to use the main house to access the internet & cook for ourselves, whilst Twink was provided with food & lodgings in exchange for helping on the farm.  It was great to spend time with everyone, but frustrating fighting for time in the kitchen & having our stuff moved out of the way in the lounge.  Twink was also wary of dogs & noisy Roxy barked everytime she came close.

Fortunately, we'd soon be on our way!

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