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Spain & Portugal

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

Forest on hill above Santiago de Compostela

In our latest blog, we fled the uncoming rain in the Picos de Europa and continued our travels towards the west. The drive from Picos de Europa to Santiago was a bit longer (6.5 hours with North), so we were arriving quite late in the afternoon. For the first time this travel we camped in the “wild”!

Visiting Santiago de Compostela

There were no suitable campgrounds for us in the vicinity of Santiago de Compostela (apart from one that looked like a parking lot), hence we found a secluded spot in the forest on the hills behind the city. Even though we escaped most of it, it was still a drizzly night, hence there was limited outdoor opportunity, even though there should be plenty hiking opportunities in the surroundings.

The search for a parking place for North

The next morning we were going into Santiago de Compostela; the endpoint of the Camino de Santiago. We drove North down the hill and showed up at a few of the parking spots we identified through Park4Night. Unfortunately, these were all packed with cars and there wasn’t a single spot big enough for a van our size. Committed, we kept driving around until we reached the outskirts of town – this literally took over an hour, when we finally found a roadside spot that fitted (barely) our van. From here it still was a good 30 minutes to downtown, so it wasn’t exactly “near” the centre but nevertheless we managed. Lesson – albeit common knowledge – don’t go into Spanish cities with a van longer than an average car.

Moose in a bag before the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Dog-in-a-bag

Our second handicap for the day was our furry friend, we had a small injury on his paw, prohibiting him from walking longer distances. We were prepared (we thought) and used the specially designed dog carry bag from K9 to carry him through town. The only minor detail was we slightly underestimated the weight. The last time he had to be carried, he was around 10kg and nowadays he’s around double, ending us up with a 20kg+bag weight to be carried around a hilly city (fantastic). Although it wasn’t entirely comfortable, it did provide massive attention from almost anyone passing us. That day more photographs were made of us than we made in the city. We even made one ourselves to capture the funny looks of a corgi-in-a-bag.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

The Cathedral and some delicious food

We made our way downtown onto the cathedral square. Here we saw many pelgrims from all different backgrounds and means of travel, excited and tired that they made it to the endpoint of the trail. We moved through the small alleys of the city, did some shopping and enjoyed some more great pinchos for lunch at A Taberna O Bispo, before returning to the van.

Tapas Santiago de Compostela
Pincho Santiago de Compostela
Squid Santiago de Compostela

The long awaited.. dog food

The reason we had to return somewhat early was we ordered dog food (quite specific given Moose’s allergies) which was supposed to be delivered at a delivery point in town that day. However, somewhere along the line, a minor change in the delivery address caused it to be delivered at a completely different address than intended. All we got was a notice, expected time of delivery window and a “live tracker” once the courier would be close by. We made our way to the address right outside of the city, which was an ordinary neighbourhood and arrived at the beginning of the 3 hours delivery window. We waited about 20 minutes but clearly the delivery service hadn’t shown up yet. On the online tracker however, a tiny car showed up, which was approaching the location slowly, than moved out further, came back slowly and so on. We were convinced this was our delivery guy. But we were impatient…

The Chase

Instead of waiting 3 hours or more, we decided to “find” the guy instead and explain the situation when we met. It became a cat-and-mouse game, as the tracker wasn’t actually “live”, but slightly delayed from his actual position. This meant we have been criss-crossing Santiago de Compostela and neighbouring towns for the next hour, trying to catch up with the delivery service. After about 30 minutes we thought we had sight on the guy and once we catched up, yelled out of the window whether he was the right person carrying our dog food. All we got was a couple of glazing eyes and his head shaking “no”. He must have thought we were out of our mind… maybe we were. Still, we continued our quest to find the right van. It followed by a semi-reckless ride through town, many u-turns, roundabouts at a bit too much speed and dead-ends. Still… we could hardly believe it.. we found the van with the right delivery guy and I think he was probably as surprised we found him. In our best Spanish (and help from Google Translate), we explained him our situation and whether he could provide us our package right now. He checked his mobile computer and concluded.. he didn’t have it in his van, but it was with his colleague.. what a bummer. But, he was actually a lot more helpful than we could have hoped for and called the colleague and asked where he was driving around. After a few minutes talk, they decided we could meet up at their warehouse and get the package (fantastic service)! The guy we met guided us to the warehouse and literally 5 minutes later we received our package; almost too good to be true, but this time it wasn’t :). After a big thank you we were ready to move on, both fairly happy and Moose… well he didn’t really get why we made all this fuss. He looked at us almost saying “just give me some food now”.

South of Santiago de Compostela

Driving South

After the chase, we drove South as we had enjoyed enough of the busy streets and made our way to a campsite west of Pontevedra. Unfortunately, contrary to what was mentioned online, it was still closed for the season. With limited options around and pretty done for the day, we found a great spot right at the beachfront, where we could park the night in all quietness. We had a quick dinner – and Moose a fresh one, enjoyed the sunset and dropped onto our mattress – day, chaotic day, succeeded.

Rowan and Moose on the beach South of Santiago de Compostela
Breakfast South of Santiago de Compostela
Laura drinking coffee South of Santiago de Compostela

Into Portugal

The next morning we woke up to some beautiful weather. Hence we pulled out the rug, table and chairs and had a great picnic breakfast on the beach, without anyone else to be seen. It happened to be one these great, slow mornings, just enjoying the sounds of the ocean. Laura caught up on some work and I spent a good half hour treating Moose’s coat, which was overdue and full of old hair to be removed (great duties I have).
We intended to still visit Pontevedra and Vigo to enjoy some oysters as the region is famous for its shellfish, but after another 40 minutes trying to find a parking spot, this time, we surrendered and accepted we needed to find other means visiting cities. Instead, we made our way further South and crossed the Portuguese border. Here we found a lovely spot close to Caminha, at the most North-Western point of Portugal. A quiet town where we stayed a couple of nights enjoying the nearby forest and beaches as well as just relaxed in the increasingly pleasant weather. From here on we moved further South to visit Porto and the Douro, but more on that in our next blog.


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