Driving to Spain, Asturias, Oviedo

The Town Hall Oviedo
The Town Hall Oviedo

A quick reminder of the last post maybe needed.  We have been kindly loaned a car and have decided that instead of wasting money renting a car in Spain and paying for flights that we would drive from the UK to Spain; a trip we have made in the past and are happy to complete again.

We departed Wolverhampton around 16:00 as we had to make our ferry from Dover at 02:30 in the morning and due to it being a Friday it was suggested that we gave at least seven hours for the journey and to expect long delays.

We met only a couple of delays and stopped off for some dinner off that boot of the car before setting off again and reaching the check-in at Dover by 00:30.  We had two hours to kill and apart from adding our headlight deflectors there was nothing much to do except trying to sleep as we had a long journey ahead.


The cruise over to Calais came and went; luckily we managed to get some sleep amongst the torturous screams of what seemed to be 100 children.  Before we knew it we were called back to car to continue our journey through France and onto Spain.

If you have ever driven through France you will probably agree that it is a somewhat drab experience and it is not until you reach the border to Spain that the land scape becomes interesting.  I know that France is a stunning country and it is a shame that whilst passing places such as Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville, Rouen, La Mans, Nantes and Bordeaux that we could not stop, but we had already experienced how uncomfortable it is sleeping in the car and we just wanting to make it to a bed and the comfort of Carlotta’s home.

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Tiredness crept in 3 hours into our trip as I had not slept for nearly 24 hours. I have found through experience that the first 5-6 coffees may make a difference to alertness but after that there is no point in drinking more as all you feel is sick.  We had covered 400 miles before pulling over at a French service station and sleeping 4 hours.


After a much needed break we carried on through France looking at the same monotonous land scape with only the money grabbing tolls to distract / upset us.  It cost us over £100 pounds in French tolls alone.  I may complain but actually the roads are good and can you believe that we hit no traffic at all?  Take a look at the below photo.  Can you spot the difference?  One shows rush hour into London and the other shows rush hour on one of the main roads into Oviedo, the Capital of Asturias.

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We enjoyed greatly our drive through the North of Spain.  Nothing had changed since the last time we drove these beautiful roads.  The scenery is stunning.  You follow the Picos de Europa though out your journey  with dramatic cliffs on your left and the Atlantic on your right.  The roads are empty, smooth and dotted with spectacular bridges that cross sleepy winding rivers.  Apart from unbelievable fatigue I felt happy and at piece.  I love this part of Spain, I love everything about it and we have not got to the best part.

Entering Spain
Entering Spain

We made Carlotta’s house by 16:00 Spanish time and were kindly welcomed by her father (Carlos) and her Mother (Maria).  There were a few reasons for coming to Oviedo, one: to spend time with family and friends, two: I need to improve of my Spanish and three: to look for a house / apartment for the future.


Since I first arrived in Oviedo I knew it would be a city I would be more than happy to call this home in the future; maybe the time is nearly right.  It is nice to know that since my last visit nothing has changed.  Oviedo is immensely historic, founded as a city in 761.  It is a clean city being awarded several times as Europe’s cleanest city.  You can still get a coffee for 0.78p and a pincho for the same price.  I have breakfast out every morning and it costs me no more than a small Starbucks coffee in the UK and tastes much better.  You can walk around the city at any time at night and not worry when you here footsteps behind you.  The food and wine are exquisite.  Life is based on the streets and it is not uncommon to see young children playing without supervision; why would they need it, even at 23:00hrs? Girls between the ages of 7 to 13 are still allowed to be children and not dressed up in clothes that make them look like 18 year old mini whores and that is so prevalent in other western Cities.


I could carry on listing why this city is so spectacular but it is better that you come and see it for yourself.  Outside the City the sea awaits only 20 minutes’ drive away  at Gijon.  The Picos de Europa creates a stunning back drop and offer unbelievably walks and other outdoor pursuits.

Anyway, I hope the photos do this fantastic city justice.  We also travelled to Avilez and Gijon; a few photos are included.  Enjoy.


A Day Baiona – 17th September 2012 (The Last Spanish Town)

A Day Baiona – 17th September 2012 (The Last Spanish Town)

We slept in until around 11:00 for some much needed sleep.  It was a good decision to spend a day here as there was some maintenance work to carry out that we had not had chance to do in Bouzas.  Our engine has started smoking a bit and I still cannot clearly verify if it is grey, black or blue smoke, all I know is that there is smoke and I am not relaxed about it.  I did some reading and narrowed it down to either having too much oil in the engine or a dirty air filter.  There are of course other reasons but they were more on the serious side and the engine is relatively new I thought it best to tackle the simple more straightforward reasons first.

I drained some oil out of the engine as it was over the ‘full’ mark but even after this and a test we still has smoke.  Now to the air filter.  This had been changed in Chichester and had only been used for 60 hours but on close inspection it seemed relatively dirty.  I managed to remove the old one, slicing my finger in the process (too much time behind a desk, my fingers are still soft), cleaned out the air-filter case and installed the new one.  I have to say that the results were pleasing.  We are now having to motor down the Portuguese coast and no smoke detected.  I may need to vent the engine bay more as this may be part of the problem with the clogged air filter.

After the maintenance we rowed over to the town of Baiona.  We stopped on the way to speak to some fellow cruisers and then set about finding out what Baiona has to offer.  We seem to be still getting our times rather mixed up and arrived in the middle of siesta so every thing was closed and no-one was around; it was a like a ghost town.  I still cannot understand why they have siesta in the north when the temperature is not as hot as the south.  Everything closes at 14:00 until 17:00, which to me is ridiculous.

There were a couple of nice churches and one cemetery that again was closed as it was a Monday.  We asked a fellow Spaniard how far it was to walk to the other side to which she replied “45 minuets”, it was more like 2 hours.  We gave up half way and walked back to the town to meet Carlotta’s cousin for a coffee.

By now the town had sprung to life and at the first opportunity I went into a hardware store to stock up on some bits which included a new gas lantern for the cock-pit, some WD40 and an electtic fly swotter as we have been having some issues with large flying insects.  I tested it out on Carlotta to see if it worked; it did and the whole town was awoken by her screams.

We had coffee with more cousins and then headed back to the boat.  We have an early start as we need to get to Porto (Portugal) tomorrow.

My past month in Spain has been great.  We have learnt a lot about the boat and sailing these waters.  The food and hospitality we have experienced have been amazing.  The way of life here is better and if it was not for the siesta time it would be greatly improved.  I strongly recomend sailing this area and giving yourself as much time as possible to explore the Ria’s.  Unfortunately we are running out of time to get to Gran Canaria but we would have happily spent another month.

Portugal here we come.