Northern Spain

San Sebastian   19th June

Basque country-We arrive late in San Sebastian, situated around the bay of La Concha, at the beach as the sun is setting, where we grab a quick drink at the beach bar and watch the local surfers. Refreshed we head into town, the Parte Vieja,  to  sample the famous Basque pintxos we have heard so much about.  These are tapas based on bread and topped with an artistic creation of everything from seafood to vegetables to pate.  We are spoilt for choice, as bar after bar, huge varieties of pintxos are out on display.  The town is said to have the highest density of bars per square metre in Spain, making it the perfect party town.

Mundaka   20th June

A small surf town on the coast, with a strikingly beautiful estuary. We spend a couple of days here, driving round all the little coves and beach along the coast. We also felt now the sun was out it was time to try out our kayak, however not to Martin’s liking, our adventure did not go very far, as the tide was out. The only way to break out of the estuary would have been to paddle though 5ft waves at its entrance.

Picas de Europas  22nd June

The mountain range stretching 40km east to west is pretty awe inspiring.  Huge peaks surround us as we drive through the national park, passing fast flowing rivers.  Our mission is to walk the Garganta del Cares, a path around the edge of the mountain.

Martin’s 30th calls for some hiking along mountain side tracks of the Picos de Europa range!  The winding, death-defying path little over a foot wide in places was certainly terrifying in places, but also exhilarating at the same time!  There are sheer drops of hundreds of thousands of feet so we try not to look down!  We get spectacular views of the Picos, made up of three limestone massifs.  Its geological structure is comparable to that of the Alps.  Meeting hikers coming in the opposite direction does not leave much room for manoeuvre!

We then then drive up and around the mountains, enjoying the scenery and braving equally scary sheer drops, reaching heights of 2100m.


Barro   23rd-25th June

We spend three nights in a strange but luxury hotel on the beach.  It was decorated as if you were on a ship, with port holes and anchors on the walls.  The décor was strange, however we got a very cheap last minute deal which suited us, especially being on the beach. In the evening, we head into Llanes, where we look for dinner.  After walking around for quite some time, we find a restaurant which Martin was hoping would be expensive as I was paying tonight.  However to our surprise, it was 10 euros for three courses and one and a half litres of wine!  We spend the next couple of days swimming and enjoying the beach.

Galicia   26th June

We drive west over the next few days heading towards Cabo Ortegal.  We arrive at Praia As Catedrais, a picturesque coastline, a mixture of both Durdle Door and Old Harry Rocks (in Dorset, England). We stop at cove after cove, each one unique and great for fishing and swimming.

Looking for somewhere quiet to sleep, searching beach after beach, we arrive at a free festival in the woods, complete with sound systems and barbecues.  We decide to join the party and end up having a good night drinking with the local Spaniards.

The next day, we arrive late one evening to sleep at a small town on the coast and manage to find a perfect spot on the beach. However to our surprise in the morning we find ourselves in the midst of nudists, with a large nudist sign in front of the car, which we didn’t seem to understand the night before-maybe it was the wine…

We continue west to Cabo Ortegal, where we drive up along long and winding roads, which become much more treacherous when there is a blanket of fog covering the mountain.   Winding up through the mountains, the mist gets worse as we ascend, making driving very difficult until we reach the Cabo.

Santiago de Compostela   28th June

My birthday calls for two days R&R in Santiago de Compostela, in the city centre.  After relaxing in the hotel spa and pool, we explore the medieval, cobbled streets and visit the cathedral first started in 1075, in a Romanesque styling.

The faithful believed that St James preached in Galicia, and after his death, was brought back by boat and buried here.  The story goes that the site was found in 813 by a religious man, by following a guiding star.  Compostela comes from the Latin ‘campo de estrella’ –field of the star.

Evening sees the streets fill with people and we sample the tapas bars along the Ruas Franco as the sun begins to set. Santiago is one of the few places that serve you free tapas with every drink.  This is to Martin’s delight, until I tell him I’m full and we would not be going for dinner now!

Martin & Nicole