Continuing westward along the north coast we stayed in towns such as Santander and Ribadesella. Santander is a huge modern city, but here we fall short on providing any “travelogue” as we mostly worked on our blog and ran on its beach, which we recommend doing. It is easily the flattest, firmest possible running beach we have ever seen. Ribadesella is a small town with unusual houses along the beach. In the turn of the 20th century a number of Spaniards, who had made tons of money growing tobacco in Cuba, returned to
Spain and built art nouveau homes right along the beach. There is a nicely constructed promenade between these houses and the beach so you can walk along and admire them all. But what we liked most about Ribadesella was our beachfront hotel room with windows that opened out directly onto the sea. The surf was also good for surfing and boogie boarding so we rented a surf board and tried both. (the key word here is “tried”)
There is a peculiar apple cider tradition in this area. You pay a waiter a Euro and they pour a taste of apple cider into a glass for you. The trick is that the bigger the distance from the bottle to the glass the better, and there are extra points for not looking at the glass when you pour. A company has developed a machine for pumping cider to great heights and pouring it into a glass, but it´s not the same as having your waiter do it.
Farther west along the coast, there’s a town called Cangas de Onis which is the gateway to some amazing mountains called the Picos de Europa. They are incredibly jagged and beautiful, seeming to rise out of nowhere.
We walked a trail called the Rio Care, which runs along, and through the
limestone walls of the river canyon. We hiked for a day there, and were pretty blown away by walking along trails where the mountains close you in on either side, as you walk along peering precipitously down 750 to 1000 feet below to the river bed! It looks scary but is all quite safe. The trail is level and wide enough so you can relax and enjoy the scenery. The drive to the trail took us up many winding mountain roads studded with quaint farming villages.
We also spent a second day in the Picos, on a hike that was quite different. While we drove up steep windy roads like the day before, the landscape was way more open. We hiked in beautiful grassy valleys with mountains to admire in the distance. We shared our hiking trail with the local horses, sheep and goats.
Before leaving the coast, we stayed in one more seaside town, a small fishing village called Cudillero. All of its houses are perched on a steep cliff, and as
you walk up the hill, you are continually bumping into the locals, who are anxious to smile and provide directions to the top of the hill! It is hard to imagine living in such tightly packed houses with no yard and mostly just vertical space – but all the residents had great views! In this town, we stayed in a Casa Rural, one of Spain’s lodging categories. In our experience, these were typically family homes with enough space for a formal lodging area. They are cozy, relatively inexpensive, and offer a chance to meet local people. Nice experience to check out in Spain.