After our dinner the night before and Loche waking with some sort of allergic reaction, I suggested it was best if we stay where we were instead of him trying to drive 6 hours to Noja…but he insisted he was okay so off we went. The day before we left Loche managed to get hold of the ACSI Camping Card, which gives you discounts at a lot of campsites around Europe. The ACSI rep was staying in the same caravan park so we were able to buy the card from him but all the books he had that list the participating parks were written in German. But the cards still gave us the discount so I found a caravan park that was a lot closer than the one we originally planned on staying at and plugged the coordinates into the GPS. I rang the park beforehand and they said they had plenty of room. When we got closer to the park (after about 4 hours driving) we started to go up this very narrow and winding road. We followed it for about half an hour and then the GPS was telling us our destination was on the left … the only thing on the left was an extremely steep driveway that was blocked off and not been used for many years. So we kept going up the road looking for caravan park signs and somewhere to turn around! We eventually found a big carpark to turn the car and caravan around in and then had to go all the way back down the hill. We never did find the caravan park and decided to keep going another 2 hours down the road to Noja. This time, we got to the caravan park and were very relieved!
Noja, is a beautiful little coastal town and it was fairly deserted when we got there as it's the low season. On the weekend though all the locals arrive and the place comes to life. The beach is just a short walk across the dunes with a beautiful creek and lots of rocks to explore and crabs for Cara to collect.
The city of Santander is only a 40 minute drive away so we had a drive in one day to have a look around and do some much needed shopping to get some summer clothes now the weather is starting to warm up. We also had to find a Land Rover dealer to get a new spare key. Hint, don't ever have to replace a Land Rover FOB as at 164 Euros and 40 minutes to program they are not cheap.
While we stayed in Noja, we also celebrated Cara's 3rd birthday. The main thing she told me she wanted for her 'happy birthday' as she calls it, was chocolate! So we found a toy store in Noja and bought her a few little presents that we can carry easily and also got her favourite chocolate - kinder surprise! We decided she'd really like an ice cream cake so we went and got a vienetta as it was about the only thing that would fit in our little freezer! We all managed to demolish that pretty quickly. That night we went out for dinner and had some local Tapas. We couldn't understand the menu and there were 10 items at 1 Euro each, so we got one of each and a pizza baguette to share.
This caravan park was a very large one with over 1000 pitches, a restaurant, chicken takeaway, mini golf, disco, pools, shop and a hair dresser! I'd been considering getting Cara and my haircut for a while and checked out the prices when I walked past one day. A ladies haircut was 10 Euro and a full head of highlights was 35 euro. At that price I decided to book us both in. They couldn't speak English but I managed to get across that I needed Cara's hair done and I wanted a cut and highlights (I was hoping highlights meant foils). She did Cara's hair first and then it was my turn. They didn't ask me what colour (I was just hoping it was going to be blonde) but I was pleased to see they had the foils ready to go. So they put all the foils in and when they took them out I was very pleased to see they were indeed blonde! So now time to cut it and I was trying to explain to her that I wanted it thinned out as well as a trim. She couldn't understand what I was saying so brought in the young male receptionist to translate for her. So we worked it out and as he left he said something to her in Spanish and laughed - probably telling her that if it wasn't right to not blame him!! She combed my hair and got the scissors, grabbed a length at the back, held the scissors right at the roots and went snip….I think my heart almost stopped beating … she kept snipping along the length of the hair and then I let my breath out with a sigh and started laughing as I realized they were just thinning scissors!! She was laughing along with me, I think she saw the horror on my face! All in all, she did a very good job and I ended up in there for 3 and half hours thinking it was going to cost a fortune, but she only charged me 45 Euro … I think Cara was free. For me to get the same thing in Australia, normally costs me around $100 and then I only get a quarter head of foils.
While all this is happening Loche has, as usual, got talking to some locals in the van park who were very helpful and suggested some places to visit in Spain and around Santander. Loche was impressed with their help and soon learnt they were not Spanish, but from South America, which made sense, as many of the Spanish we have come across have not been overly friendly. Thank you Ricardo and friends, if you guys are coming to OZ please come and see us.
Our last day in Noja was spent sightseeing along the beaches on the other side of Santander. We first stopped at a little village called Santillano where there were cobbled streets, plenty of restaurants and shops to wander through. We went into a few different restaurants looking for some traditional food but were very disappointed with the lack of hospitality we received. It started us wondering how tourists in Australia are treated (hopefully much better). We eventually found somewhere, had some lunch and then went on our way. That afternoon we headed inland for a drive through the mountains. It was a bit of a rainy day and as we got further up the mountains we were surrounded by mist and couldn't see far in front, it was quite eerie for a while. Then we came across a village nestled in a valley between all the mountains and it was very beautiful.
The following day we left Noja headed down towards Portugal. We'd been told that Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful town with amazing architecture so we decided to make that our next stop. It's was a 530 km drive which isn't too far except when you are limited to 80km/h towing a caravan. It took us most of the day and we arrived early evening. Once we set up we had a bit of a look aound and the city is very beautiful, while we were driving though, Cara fell asleep so we didn't get a chance to wander through the streets. The caravan park we stayed at was one of the most expensive and probably one of the worst. It was very old and run down with not much appeal. We only ended up staying one night, got up early the next morning to drive 3 or so hours down to Porto, Portugal.