Where's Frankie?

The Rain in Spain

Sunday 3rd May

The aire at Astorga only had two vans when we arrived but they were still coming in at 11pm and I suddenly realised why, tomorrow was the 1st of May and the public holidays fall on the right day, not pushed back to the following Monday. Every British Bank Holiday contains a bit of rain and Spain didn’t disappoint. 

Frankie has been a bit sick over the last couple of weeks so one of the reasons to visit Astoria was to visit the local Fiat dealer and give him a work over. We think the diesel filter is getting clogged, one of the warning lights comes on as we go away from a Fiat dealer and goes off as we approach one, I think he’s scared of opening his bonnet!

The other problem is that part of the bed mechanism has cracked and we are having to strap one side up. We were hoping to get the filter sorted and then ask about a welder but because of the Bank Holiday that will go back a day or two.

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So why visit Astorga? It is another city on the Camino of St James so there are lots of pilgrims about and since they spend so much money the cities can afford to build big and lavish. The above photo is of Astorga Cathedral but as you can see, the surrounding buildings prevent getting a decent photo of the front.

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This photo is made up of 12 smaller sections and then cut and pasted together, it still needs some more work but not bad as a first attempt. The original tower (1678) is on the left but it was badly damaged in the Lisbon earthquake of 1775 and not fully rebuilt until 1965. The new tower was started in 1698 and completed in 1708, made of pink stone and not affected by the earthquake.

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And a close up of the ornate front door and surrounds.

Anyway, back to your history lesson. In 1886 the Bishop’s Palace, next door was burnt down so the then Bishop, Juan Bautista Grau Vallespinos got on the blower to his old mate, Antoni Gaudi, and commissioned a new palace.

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Sadly the Bishop died before completion and then Gaudi had a little contretemps with the town council and it wasn’t finished until 1913 and never used as a palace.

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Obvious Gaudi influences although many years previous to La Sagrada Familia when he went really crazy.

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Every room has richly decorated arched roofs, very pretty but I’m not sure any of it would have worked as a private house.

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In every room there were artefacts from the local area and lots of clerical pieces, crosses, paintings, vestments, etc. 

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We’d signed up for the big tour so we visited the Cathedral Museum which was full of even more churchy stuff, we’ve both had our fill of churches and cathedrals so moved onto Leon, another major pilgrim attraction. We avoided the Cathedral, it’s closed on Bank Holidays so took a walk through the shopping centre next to the aire. The shopping centre was open but all the shops were closed!

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We spotted this jigsaw puzzle in one of the shop windows, 33,600 pieces. It measured at least 5 metres long and 1.5 metres high. Who has got a dining table big enough to do this jigsaw? 

The couple next to us gave us a couple of addresses for garages in Leon but they were sadly closed because it was Saturday so we made our way north. We were going to Burgos but as I said, too many churchy things, and North is towards the sea and maybe sunshine.

The aire at Bonar didn’t have sunshine but it had stopped raining and we went to visit the town, try out the local beer and settled in for a night watching The Hobbit part 3. The aire is at 3200 feet above sea level so it was a bit chilly at night and then the rain came. We made an early move to Mieres because there is a Fiat agent there and there is an aire, we can be at the Fiat agents first thing in the morning and try and sort Frankie out. The route to Mieres was interesting.

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Over the Picos de Europa, very high, very steep mountains with plenty of snow, drizzle and mist.

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The poles along the sides of the road are to mark the road when the snow gets higher.

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Funny little triangular houses, we think they may be chalets for when this area becomes a ski resort.

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There is our road hundreds of feet below.

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The highest we got was 5000 feet but the road was good and by lunchtime we had found our aire in Mieres and gone for a walk.

The Sunday market was in full swing, lots of shops were open and all the restaurants chock a block with people sat out in the sun, yes sun. We found a lavaderia, put all our clothes in the machine and went and found a sideria. This area of Spain is famous (in Spain) for producing cider and it is served in a most unusual way.

The waiter takes a glass in one hand and holds it as low as he can, he then takes the bottle of cider and holding it as high as he can, takes a short little pause and then starts pouring it all over the floor until he finds the glass and pours out an inch of cider for you. I prefer my cider in a glass and poured out the rest of the bottle but somehow it did taste better when he did it. Two bottles of cider later and €4.40 poorer we stumbled home and are presently resting to go back tonight. We noticed some of the food being served up to our neighbours and it looked very inviting.

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