On our way out of Portugal we set sights that stretch along the north spanish coastline, we park in a small town next to a marina after a solid drive up from Porto. This would be our stop for the night for then to be some gorgeous sun rise moments first thing the next day.
We drive up to Santiago de Compostela and what is really noticeable on the drive up is the amount of walkers and walking trails the whole way to this city, was there something on? Well we found out a moment later as we head into the old city. Meandering around town bustling with seafood restaurants and bakeries this city has a charm about itself, we make our way to the Museo da Catedral which stands out impressively. This has it that this is the end of the pilgrim route and has been busy with pilgrims for over 1000 years, and also the supposed burial site of St. James. This was the reason it was built.
Those walkers I told you about, they seem to all walk to this direction, no surprise either with the church being a popular attraction and one of the 3 most important churches in Christianity, but also the countryside so far coming here has been second to none it’s main climate being rain so it is very green here. You would never of thought it either with the hot dry barron landscape that we encountered in Spain previously. Bustling with people it had a very busy feel to it, this church is very popular, and do recommend coming here for a different feel for a Spanish city. We move on to view Ribadeo coastline.
So on arrival at our park in Ribadeo we encountered another Green Machine owned by the British this one without the high top and of slightly different look with less windows. Whilst we got ready the owners to our surprise an older couple wandering back to their van stunned looking over to ours we had a great yarn about the vehicles. Their one being quite difficult in the terrain we are in as it is only a 1.6 engine 2nd gear seems a formality , no fridge there camping is of basic needs. Ferry over from UK to Santander they enjoying a good 2 weeks driving about. This is the first VW type that is of the same colour as ours and even too they said we are the first in green, this colour is not easy to find being the classic orignal colour.
Ribadeo is a coastline stretch of corroded cliff face that has been battered by the seas forever, this particular part is very touristy and will only let 5000 people on the beach daily as we found out upon arrival. So stunned that we couldn’t get on we trudge off in annoyance, booked out so that you could only get on in a few days time. Still being able to view from the cliff edge we wander along to see if we could get down, we’ll head further along and we get down to the next beach that has no tourists and little locals for that matter. This in my view was much better than going to the other beach because you are not dealing with hundreds of tourists on the beach front all trying to get the same photo. As you will see the pictures are stunning and it was a stunning place to be, felt so small with the cliffs and caves surrounding you and the strong ocean tide racing in. Quite the spot and would have us enlightened for what lies ahead on this coastline. We just keep driving through such serenic countryside and national parks it tops a lot of what Europe offers and even NZ.
Right remember that pesty mouse we have living in the camper…. Well it’s manage to make life in the Green Machine so far and the thought of it really stirred us up, especially being we are super clean, keeping rubbish and recycling disposed readily. Well after a mammoth clean of the camper washing all seat fabric and just giving the camper a generally good clean and empty everything out we decided to buy mouse traps and some glue contraption that’s supposed to get him stuck if he went for the food in the middle. All this and nothing… Not even a sign of the mouse? Seems our stringent work we did before leaving the van, not a single crumb or single drop of water would starve the mouse and decide enough was enough and left, I would of thought the noise and rattle of the Green Machine would of been enough. Happy campers!
Up and ready for a trip to the coast we head towards Gijón and have an evening exploring this city, a wander around and we find the perfect local for some tapas and traditonal cider. The cider here is not the cider you and I are used to drinking, it’s somewhat different in the way they drink it also. Poured from a glass bottle over their heads into your glass held down to their waist in a little sheltered contraption that stops the splash back…
Now after watching the locals it seems when the drink is poured, only a 1/4 full the barman hands you the drink and you must swing it back immediately finishing your drink. Right, the taste is what surprised me but it grew on me, cider vinegar came to mind with a very sharp taste, the apple is certainly very prominent but in no way sweet. Hence it makes perfect sense to not muck around and swing it back. That was an experiance and a half! Now tapas with chicken, patatas and squid it was delicious a great evening out what turned out to be heaving by 10pm, it seems the locals stop what they were doing and are all out socialsing with many music performances being had around the many squares. We witness one earlier on with what seems traditional for this area is the bag pipes, exactly the same to the scottish ones but a higher pitch. Was very cool to witness.
We head in land a little to a place called Santillana del Mar, which is an old medieval town that is still intact to this day, this is a place you feel you are back in time. Old houses and shops bustling as they would hundreds of years ago we make our way up to the main church of the town called the La Colegiata de Santa Juliana and was built ontop of an ancient monastery from 9th century. The church itself walking in opens out to a little courtyard with individual carvings on the pillars, walking around you feel like something out of Robin Hood if all feels so surreal. The church itself nothing to write home about in terms of ornate sculptures but basic as it would have been back in the day. Walking all through this town was a very cool experiance and as you will see from the pictures will solidify that. 2km from this town is recorded artistic marks thousand years before in the cave of Altmaira.
Next point of call along the coastline is San juan de Gaztelugatxe which is a church built upon a rocky island connected with a bridge across the shoreline, the area surrounded this is spectacular and we walk to the top to explore the surrounding area. It is said that John the Baptist visited here, stunning scenery if ever you can visit this place the coastline is picturesque. A pretty cool bridge at that too.
We head back to the nearest town and stay the night, we had a look at the local beach for an evening patta ball and swim before setting off to San Sebastian the next day..
This will be our last day and night in Spain before setting back into France, we arrive after some stunning scenery again of the coastline of north Spain, coming back here the national parks would be the highest priority.
San Sebastian sits in the harbour with sandy beaches stretching the whole way around, looked over by what looks like a statue of Mary this place was very busy with sun worshippers. Parked up next to a VW like ours we had a friendly chat later on about each others vehicles, it’s becoming more common now that we come across these types.
We walk in to spend the afternoon at the beach packed with people and finally the water is warm, clean clear water it’s a real pull for the locals to spend their days here. We take a walk around the town with bits and pieces we needed to sort out, whilst doing this we stumbled upon their main church at the end of the main street, it’s tower clearly noticeable from the other end of the street. The place is busy with a festival and many market stalls selling local organic produce, we purchase some local organic cider and Spanish Tempranillo red wine.
After a good few hours walking around we head back for dinner before getting a proper send off from Spain with a fireworks display over the harbour, all the locals out in force for this and you can see why.
What a stark contrast from the first trip through Spain to the north of Spain, an experience to never forget, the scenery is awesome. The coast line from what you have seen is very dramatic as well as the national parks we drove past almost giving a hint of highland Scotland, its very green up here with plenty of rain. The countryside is quaint and serenic with many mountains untouched with forest. The people are very friendly and seem to be a tight knit group up here, as said Barcelona have strong feelings for independence and so do the region of the Basque country. So long Spain what an interesting place you are, Adiós.
Now some numbers to throw you off, since we started this trip ’till now we have travelled the length from UK to NZ and on our way back. Totalling 13,235 miles or 21,176 Km……. crikey dickens.