Road Trip to Asturias and Galicia
I went on a road trip with my 3 friends to Asturias and Galicia, Spain's northern regions, from the 6th to the 10th of December. We all had a fantastic time because we rented a car instead of taking public transport so we were able to take our sweet time in each place we visited. We didn't have to follow an exact schedule plus we allowed ourselves to get lost and take detours that eventually led us to amazing restaurants (thank you Liane and Google)!
Expenses per person
Transportation: Payment of €33,25 for the car plus an additional €46,72 for the extra charges when we picked up the car
Accommodation: €60,24 for all 3 Airbnbs (total of 4 nights)
Extra expenses: €50 (common fund for gas, parking, and the food we shared at restaurants)
*I decided to include some of my expenses in order for you to have an idea of how much you can possibly spend if you choose to go on a trip similar to mine. I am in no way bragging. Especially because my friends and I tried to make sure that this trip was going to be affordable hahaha.
November 5, 2017: Road Trip Preparations
For the car rental service, my friends and I decided to rent through Hertz. The reservation charged us €132,98 in total (for the location service charge, collision damage waiver, theft protection, and the vehicle license). Upon reserving, it said that we need pay €0,00 at the location, but, that wasn't the case. I'll explain in detail below, so keep reading!
As for our accommodation, we all agreed to stay in pueblos or casas rurales through Airbnb. We chose places that were 30 minutes to an hour away from the cities we planned on visiting because booking accommodations that aren't located in the big cities are more affordable. - I highly recommend it!
December 6, 2017: Madrid - Valladolid - Proaza - Oviedo
The first day of our trip was off to a bad start because my alarm didn't go off and my phone was stolen at the Atocha Madrid Metro (at 7 in the morning, I can't believe it).
We went to the Hertz office in Madrid-Puerta de Atocha to pick up the car. We were all under the impression that we didn't have to pay Hertz anymore except for the €70 on the credit card as a security deposit for the gas because we already paid when we reserved it a month prior. Apparently, we were charged for the second driver, car insurance, and personal insurance which we were able remove because we're currently covered by the insurance provided for us by our jobs. We didn't like that the extra expenses upon pick up came to us as a surprise. We knew they were going to hold €70 for the gas; however, we had no idea we were required to pay for the other things I previously mentioned. This would be too risky if you're on a tight budget. My friend's experience with Goldcar was better because they tell you up front how much you must pay without any hidden charges.
Despite having to pay Hertz more, I would still recommend renting a car because we were able to go to places at our own pace and to places that aren't easily accessible by public transport.
Instead of leaving at around 08:30, we left at 09:45 because we arrived Atocha late, my phone was stolen (I had to call my bank to deactivate my mobile wallet), and we had complications with the car rental service. After all the hassle, we were finally off to Valladolid to pick up our friend. We arrived in Valladolid at 13:00 then drove off to Northern Spain. Out of all the days we drove, the first was my favourite because the view was spectacular. At around 16:45 we just HAD to stop to play in the snow and get drinks at a nearby bar.
We arrived at our Airbnb in Proaza at 19:00 which was 3 hours after our scheduled check-in time but we explained to our hostess that we were going to be late and she was thoughtful and understanding about it, definitely a super hostess! I've booked through Airbnb several times in the past and the one in Proaza is one of my favourites despite it not having WiFi because it's clean, well-decorated, and the view outside our window was stunning!
After checking in we took a 30-minute drive to Oviedo to walk around and have dinner at El Reloj de Porlier. Their €16 Menú del Día was great! We liked their Fabada, an Asturian Bean Stew, the most.
December 7, 2017: Proaza - Oviedo - Gijón - Cudillero - Sada
We returned to Oviedo after checking out of our Airbnb in the morning to buy souvenirs as well as to try pastries from Camilo de Blas along Calle Jovellanos. Their typical Asturian pastry called Carbayón is a must try!
Gijón is one of Spain's beautiful coastal cities. It's also known for their sidra (cider) that is poured from a height to create a foamy layer. We arrived at Gijón just in time for lunch so we ate in the restaurant that my student recommended to me: La Galana located in the main plaza. We availed their menú del día and were served a mix of Spanish and Mediterranean dishes.
It was my turn to drive and we went to Cudillero, a seaside town in Asturias. The houses were a sight to see because they looked as if they're dangling on the steep terraces. It's a town worth visiting if you're taking a car.
It was a long drive (2-3 hours, 221 km) from Cudillero to our Airbnb in Sada. Again, we were late but our good-natured host did not mind at all. He even told us that the most important thing is that we arrived safely.
December 8, 2017: Sada - A Coruña - Santiago de Compostela
We checked out of the Airbnb and headed to A Coruña. It rained during most of our trip and the fog was intense. Because of this, we didn't go to the Torre de Hércules, one of the oldest functioning clock towers, but at least we saw it from afar. Instead, we entered Aquarium Finisterrae, A Coruña's aquarium. There was a shark encounter and we witnessed the feeding of seals and some exhibits of marine life. I've seen bigger and better museums in my lifetime and their entrance fee of 10 euros wasn't worth it. It would've been if I was eligible for the discount but I don't own a Carne Joven (Youth Card). Afterwards, we drove up to the Ascensor del Monte San Pedro but it was a bad idea because we couldn't see a thing due to the fog so we went back down to the center and had lunch at A Pulpeira de Melide. We ordered 2 servings of their pulpo (octopus, doble ración €17,80), mejillones (mussels, €8,5) and the server suggested that we order Cachelos (chunks of potatoes, €2,40), a typical Galician dish that is best eaten with meat or seafood. Their pulpo was cooked well but I wasn't satisfied, I wanted to eat more. After eating at the bar we walked around the city and reached the Praza de María Pita. Close to the Plaza was a store called Croqueta y Presumida where my friend and I shared an order of 5 different croquetas - each one was flavourful and honestly, they were the best croquetas I have ever tasted! You can even order them frozen so that you can cook them at home.
We walked along Avenida de La Marina, too. A Coruña has been given the name "Crystal City" because of their glass windows. On a good day where the sun is shining bright, the glass windows would twinkle. Unfortunately, we weren't able to witness it because the weather did not cooperate with us.
Thankfully, the sky began to clear up so we gave the Ascensor del Monte San Pedro another shot. We drove back up and saw the breathtaking view of A Coruña. The wind was strong but it didn't stop us from taking photos!
Santiago de Compostela
It was another 2-hour drive from A Coruña to our Airbnb in Ames (10-minute drive from Santiago de Compostela). It was the Feast of The Immaculate Concepcion and my friend and I wanted to hear mass. We were running late but we were able to attend the last 30 minutes of the mass at the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. Afterwards, we had dinner at a restaurant nearby that served a cheap Menú del Día. It wasn't the best but we only paid €10 euros so we got what we paid for.
December 9, 2017 - Fisterra - Santiago de Compostela
Fisterra, a municipality of A Coruña is an hour and a half drive away from Santiago de Compostela and we went there to visit Cape Finisterre, Spain's Land's end. It is a destination of the pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago. As I've mentioned above, the weather wasn't the best during our trip but good thing it wasn't raining and there was no fog when we arrived Cape Finisterre. On the way back to Santiago de Compostela, we found a delicious restaurant. Honestly, "delicious" is an understatement. Grab a thesaurus and all the words related to great tasting food would be the perfect way to describe Mesón As Viñas. Cheese is always a good idea and bless the heavens for giving the staff the idea of serving melted cheese above their pulpo (Pulpo con Queso, small: €10, big: €16). We also ordered their Calamares Fritos (fried squid, €9) and Solomillio de Cerdo con Salsa de Champiñones (pork tenderloin with mushroom sauce, minimum of 2 orders so €16 x 2). The pork tenderloin was my favourite because the mushroom sauce was to die for! It was so tasty and savoury. I'm still dreaming about the food we ate there.
Santiago de Compostela
The photos I took of the cathedral weren't the best because it was being renovated and some parts of the cathedral were covered but it's a beautiful cathedral nonetheless. We bought souvenirs for our family then we capped off our last night together by going to two bars: Pub Momo and Café Bar Paris. Pub Momo was fun because there were bar games and the interiors of the place aren't like your typical pub. For Café Bar Paris, I enjoyed it because we were served callos along with our drinks and they have pastries as well.
December 10 Santiago de Compostela - Valladolid - Madrid
The last day of our trip! We left Santiago de Compostela at 13:00 and at 15:00 we had a late lunch at a restaurant called A Paixón located in the middle of nowhere. The place felt homey and the staff was remarkably welcoming and kind. The food was also to die for, the dishes were so good, I wanted to wipe my tears with their bread haha. The restaurant is a common destination for the pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago and it's not a restaurant you should go to if you are on a budget. But, we decided to treat ourselves on our last day and it was the perfect place to do so. It's a hole in the wall, or rather, a hole in the forest (LOL) that served food made with so much love. We paid around 20 each.
We left the restaurant an hour later and made it back to Valladolid by 22:30 PM. We were able to return the car back to Atocha at 1:00 on the 11th of December. It was such a tiring trip back and the rain and wind weren't so kind to us.
In summary, I had a fantastic time with my friends and it's always exciting to explore new cities. Spain is truly a beautiful country and each region offers so many different experiences. I would, without a doubt, go on a road trip again. But, I'll be more careful when it comes to choosing the car rental company.