I can understand why my brother & sister-in-law always take all-incusive holidays in package holiday resorts. They climb off the plane, straight onto a bus, to be taken to their hotel without a hitch. They dump their luggage & can head straight to the bar for an ‘all-inclusive’ drink, knowing a meal will be ready & waiting at the appropriate time.

We don’t.

Even before moving to Europe on a permanent basis, we’ve always self-catered. Rob likes to eat when he’s good & ready, not wait for someone else to decide & he can get a little grumpy when hungry (but he sometimes denies this…)  As explained (in the previous entry) after getting lost, courtesy of Billy TomTom, we arrived late at our accommodation, hungry & tired.

After settling & feeding the pets, we were starving & having packed the car to the gills & needing to bring pet food, I’d had to throw all our food in Nottinghamshire. Pet food took priority as we could buy en-route for ourselves more easily than finding a tin of dog food or bird seed.  I did still bring 2,400 PG Tips tea bags which were vacuumed packed into large polythene storage bags – hidden in amongst clothes to avoid potential scrutiny by passport control.

Codfish stew in an iron skilletGetting lost leaving our new, temporary home, we completely missed the turning for the close-by restaurant recommended by our host & drove a little way further to Villaviciosa. Settling down at at town centre restaurant, we realised how little Spanish we actually knew. Attempting to decipher the menu, the waiter fetched his English speaking colleague & this was something we subsequently experienced from the friendly Spanish. I was pleased that I accurately ordered codfish which was delicious but Rob’s meal of pork steak was nothing more than a fancy burger.

We’d not noticed a supermarket on our travels, both driving & walking through town so had been unable to obtain essential supplies. Therefore, on our second day in Spain, despite feeling very jaded from our days of travelling, all we had for breakfast were coffee & cereal bars, so we needed to shop. We arrived in Gijon (Asturian spelling Xixón) in glorious sunshine, but only seeing one possible supermarket on the way. After finding free parking just behind the seafront at the East of the town, we ate lunch at a sea-front restaurant. Whilst there, still not having 3G, I used their wifi to search for supermarkets.

Nancy sitting at a seafront restaurant in GijonBilly took us to the well-known chain no problem, but in the centre of town to what seemed to be the back entrance as all the shutters were down. So, as I decided there must be an out-of-town retail park (so English an assumption really) & we spent a considerable time trying to find our way out of Gijon. A town based on a grid network, many roads were one-way so whilst attempting to be Rob’s eyes, warning of lane changes etc, I looked for any sign of a supermarket. After a while, there was a small one on the opposite side of the dual carriageway & even better, with a car-park.

I encouraged Rob to turn left at the next opportunity, but as he changed lanes to the point of no-return, I spotted a large Lidl in the distance. To add to our frustration, the left-turn fed us directly onto another dual carriageway to who-knows where! Many miles & a significant amount of time driving down A roads & small B side roads later, we managed to park-up at Carrefour for a quick shop for essential provisions.

A view across the sea front of Gijon in AsturiasA quick shop? No, this is Spain!

Talking out-loud to myself at the veg counter to identify the Spanish for carrots (it’s Zanahorias) in order to weigh them & obtain a bar-code price label, a lady exclaimed “You’re English?

Enter the lovely Fatima & her young son Morgan. Moroccan born Fatima from Lincoln was on a university placement teaching English & enthusiastically told us all about her journey & experience living in Gijon for the previous few weeks. Later-on, we bumped into each other on another aisle & continued our conversation for a long while. Therefore, it was much later than expected when we left, concerned that the dogs had been shut-in the apartment for so long.

Exiting the car park (with right of way), we spotted a car approaching from the left & not slowing down, something we experienced many times on the roads as Spanish drivers hurtle towards junctions at speed, braking late.

Rob accelerated & swung right, but we were bumped.

The other driver immediately admitted responsibility & fetched his documents, but after examining both cars, there was only superficial damage to both cars’ bumpers. Not wanting to experience the Spanish authorities so soon into our journey, we had to persuade the other driver (really hard), that all was OK & we wouldn’t be reporting him, nor taking the incident further. We did then wonder whether it was illegal not to report an incident which is why he was so insistent…

Having picked-up a couple of bottles of red wine for €1 each, settling down with a glass ended our first full day in Spain.