España Road Trip Part 3 – Asturias

After the heat of Galicia we headed east for 5 days in the familiar surroundings of Llanes. Leaving O Grove and heading for the North Coast we passed by Boiro, one of the areas ravaged by the summer wildfires and even from the motorway the damage was obvious.

Charred hillsides

We wended our way up a mountain and through the clouds, but on the Galician side of Ribadeo all was still clear and warm.

Actual roadsigns warned of clouds on the carriageway

We needed a lunch stop and found a cheeky beachside park up not far from the overcrowded Playa de las Catedrales, had the beach to ourselves!

Sunny lunchtime leg stretch

We put in 449 kms, returning to Camping Playa de Troenzo, for the 4th time (1st in a van) it was another long day on the road, bypassing a few places I would have liked to see, but maybe next time!

Serious truckin

The change in weather was abrupt, as was the scale of the camp. We have had great holidays at Troenzo in the past and loved the fact that everything we need is right there – the beach just down the steps, the shop for fresh bread and emergency cider, the bar for ice creams and iced jarras of beer and the very reasonably priced restaurant for a simple but good meal.

This time round it just seemed a big contrast with where we had come from, the distance (in the wet) to trudge for everything from a quick wee to a coffee and sneaky wifi session was a much bigger undertaking.

Being in the van this time, we were on the look out for water points and bog emptying. There was a fancy service area near the restaurant, took a bit of manoeuvring into, and you pay 2 euro to put your poo box in a machine to have it emptied and cleaned. Turned out we were a good 5 mins drive up the campsite away from this, the next nearest bog emptying point was at the facilities block under the bar/ so still a good 10 minute walk with a box full of Peanuts across wet and slippery crazy paving.

Wet and hilly. Asturias in a nutshell

Also knowing the layout of the parcelas and that not all are easily accessible I was wondering where we would end up. I double checked the messages I’d sent Rocío making sure I mentioned just how long the van is, and crossed my fingers that we wouldn’t have to do too much manoeuvring to park up.

Actually we got a nice spot, overlooking the sea, kind of, but as we arrived at the end of what had clearly been a moist summer, the grass pitch we were allocated wasn’t very grassy, except around the edges.

Roomy. And muddy.

We had often commented on the very widespread use of blue tarpaulins to protect various camping set ups here and had wondered if they got commission for selling tarps on site, so it was no surprise that they had a good supply in the shop to help us fabricate a makeshift outdoor carpet to avoid bringing tons of mud into the van.

First time the flip flops were cast aside

Once set up, as the rain was setting in we were reluctant to move the van again, the amount of mush underfoot could have made it very churned up and risk getting stuck. We did the only sensible thing we could:

Un culín de sidra. ¡Salud!

We managed one day out when we went into Llanes itself. We parked at the parking Autocaravanas, behind the paid Aire just on the edge of town – upto 48hrs free, but no services – you have to go in the paid one for that. It was just a short walk round the corner to get on to the end of the Paseo de San Pedro, and walk down the sea wall for 20 mins or so to reach the Playa de El Sablón and the centre of Llanes, a really nice walk.

Lovely sunny walk
Paseo de San Pedro

I think if we pass by Llanes again, as long as we are ok for water and battery that park up will be the place to stop off for a quick night/day and then move on again. There was plenty of room and it was nice and flat. Popular but not overcrowded.

In town we hit Sandra’s Bargain basement, the donkey shop, the toy shop and everything in between. I was particularly taken with these…

Evil football babies

We couldn’t bypass Helados Revuelta without partaking of an excellent icecream:

Chambi chocolate con caramel salado

And when we’d exhausted the sightseeing delights of the town centre we stopped for lunch by the water

Menú del Día time

A very full and slow walk back to the van was the most we could manage after that little lot.

De Paseo por el casco histórico

We did enjoy some beach time on one good day of sunshine. Rockpools were raided, mini surf boards were purchased from the shop and lots of wave jumping and “total wipeouts” (H)

Playa de Troenzo

Another meal at the camp restaurant and not much else soon saw our 5 days tick away.

Fine skies tho

and time to head for Bilbao.

Last morning in España

We had quite mixed feelings about coming back to Troenzo and we pretty much decided that we’re unlikely to stay there again. It’s probably more down to the fact that we have changed since we were last there. What we need from a campsite now we’re van life types is different to when we slogged to get somewhere with a ton of gear and then stayed put for 2 weeks.

The price was also less than 10 euros cheaper in total than Muiñeira, which also made it seem like we’d paid a lot and felt a bit short changed. The facilities were still cleaned regularly (often shut for cleaning when you’re busting and then have an extra 5 mins skid down the hill to the next block) but still mainly dark and cramped. One block had been revamped and was lovely, but was at the far end of the site and a long walk to get over there. I suppose just a culmination of several small things made us think that next time we’re in the area we’ll try somewhere new.

El Sablón

So back aboard the Galicia with Brittany Ferries we sailed home. The sea was calm, the food was French and we made it home not long after midnight just as September was beginning.

Bay of Biscuits

Final score was 1478 miles, 5 tanks of fuel 😨 and overdrawn!

Fun for mileage nerds 🤓

The real question was how did we get on with Big Red and was it worth it?

There’s no doubt that in terms of space we were better off. The kids were much better having their own bunks and their own travel seats. We didn’t physically take more than we would have put in the T6, and whilst the weather was good we were outside anyway. The driving was fine, with more horsepower to play with and with no pop top to faff with setting up and breaking camp is minimal.

The difference is clearly the amount of water we use – having a filter tap has meant no bottled water purchases and having the on board John requires flushing out. What goes in has to come out too, so the routine of emptying grey waste and poo box before leaving is a new addition to daily chores.

In hot weather, knowing that Wildax vans were insulated to the max we were still cool. The temperature did drop at night in Galicia, but with several opening windows and vents, and a couple of fans on standby we were comfortable.

The next test will be camping in cooler weather, camping without EHU and camping when it’s too wet or windy to be outside, with all 4 of us indoors. Further field trips are required.

Do we miss the black bus? Not practically. Maybe sentimentally.

#campervancapers #EspañaRoadTrip2022

Fiat lux

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