August 16th, 2017 Algeciras-Astorga

Our trip started in August; we were going to visit the North of Spain, around Cantabria to be more accurate, instead of visiting my stepfamily in Bulgaria, as accostumed in our summer fortnight holidays.
We left home at about 10:15 AM one hour later than planned. We arrived in Seville at 12:15 and the usual mishap in this city happened: long queues at the Centenario bridge delayed us 45 minutes. Once the traffic turned smooth again, we continued our trip normally until the first stop in "Fuente de Cantos" for lunch in the "Venta el Gato" restaurant. Our way continued at 14:30 directly to Astorga, reaching this town at about 20:30. We left our luggage in the "Hostal Coruña", our hotel that night. We parked our car very close and strolled Astorga after checking-in. We saw the cathedral and the Episcopal Palace, though it was too late to enter. A bar called ''Azkorri" was our pick for dinner, very close to the city-council square.

The Episcopal palace, Astorga cathedral at the bottom


August 17th, 2017 Astorga-León-Avilés

Breakfast at our inn at 10:15. After checking out, we strolled Astorga again trying to enter the places we couldn't the previous day because of the lack of time. Unfortunately it was preach time at the cathedral and it was inappropriate entering as tourists. But we did enter the Episcopal Palace to admire the building inside. This astonishing building was built by Gaudi and together with the cathedral are the two main touristic attractions in Astorga. They are very close, just a small street separates them.

Inside the Episcopal Palace

Once the visit to the Palace was over we made to the City-Council square. I entered a "chinese store" on our way to buy a SD card reader adaptor for I forgot to put the micro-SD card to my reflex camera. With the adaptor in my pocket we continued strolling Astorga. My little Martha got the best part of the walk for she bought a pair of new sport shoes from a shoe-shop at the city center. Taking advantage of the shopping mood, we entered an electricity commerce to buy a multiple plug which was very useful during all our trip: our luggage was full with mobile phones, tablets, cameras and there was always something to be charged. Our stroll ended at the city council square, we went back to our car and we headed to Leon at about 12:30 PM reaching this city at about 13:30. We searched for "La Bicha" restaurant, recommended by a job-mate. Unfortunately it was closed, but there was a "B" plan, another restaurant recommended by this guy as well. The restaurant was called "El Patio", a very enjoyable place. Then we made to the Cathedral, an astonishing building both inside and outside. When our visit to the Cathedral was over, we entered a Cafe called "Albany". There was time enough to visit "La Colegiata de San Isidro" before heading to Aviles. Our destination in this city was "La Casa del Mar", hostelry where we should stay for three nights. Worth mentioning that on the way to this city we stopped at the "Pajares Mountain Pass", 1378 metres over the sea level. Once you reach the highest point, the sudden landscape leaves you breathless. We arrived in Aviles at about 20:30 and we did the check-in at the "Casa del Mar". Before arriving in Aviles the news on the radio were terrible: terrorist attack in "Las Ramblas" (Barcelona). In a certain way we could breath quietly because our holidays were based mainly on visiting small villages and the couple of big cities in our schedule were supposed to be quiet. After leaving our luggage in our room a stroll around the part of the city close to the port took place. We had the chance to listen to some minutes of opera played live by the "Coro de la Opera de Oviedo", in front of the ''Palacio de Camposagrado".

 


 August 18th, 2017 Avilés-Taramundi

Breakfast in our apartment at the "Casa del Mar". The day broke cloudy, like almost everyday of our trip. Because of this pleasant weather condition, strolling our planned towns was a nice experience. That day our target was Taramundi, a small village half an hour far from Aviles where a Mill Museum called Mazonovo could be visited; the art of making bread was shown at this place as well. The "Os Teixois" etnographic museum was a place to visit in Taramundi as well. On the way to this village there were two things worth to mention: the first one was a stop at a small village called Pontenovo to see some cylindrical mining ovens quite garish. The second one was that the GPS drove us to secondary roads where there was hardly room for one car, staying in those narrow roads for about twenty minutes until we found the right way. Those roads were so bad that the integrity of our car was in danger for some moments. Once on we right way, we reached Taramundi. Lunch at "Casa Paulino" Restaurant. The village, as could be easily guessed, was full with tourists, despite it was not an easy place to reach. The mill Museum in Mazonovo, very close to Taramundi was our next visit. Watching explanatory videos in the museum we had the chance to get deep information about the making of bread and its evolution through the years. Martha, after making a small test about what was shown at the place, got a certificate at the exit. Then we made to the ethnographic museum "Os Teixoes" , a hamlet four kilometres far from Taramundi, with a group of hydraulic invents in a very good condition. After we paying a guided tour, we got all kind of details about the etnographic ensemble.

Ethnographic museum "Os Teixoes"

Once the visit to Taramundi was over we headed to the "Playa de las Catedrales" (the Cathedrals Beach) in Ribadeo. Worth mentioning is that this place is one of a kind because of its spectacularity: high rocks in the middle of a beach surrounded by high reefs. It is such an special place that you have to get an appointment, usually made by the internet to be able to enter. We took advantage of the end of this restriction, 20:30 h., and we strolled the beach. Then, searching a place for dinner was our next task. A restaurant in Ribadeo was our pick. It was called "EI rincon del Gordo". Then we returned to Aviles to spend the night.

 


August 19th, 2017 Aviles-Oviedo-Cudillero

The day broke wet in Aviles. We made to Oviedo that day. Two pre-romanic churches were our next aim. They were built in the year 840, "Santa Maria del Naranco and "San Miguel de Lillo" about 300 metres far from each other. They were well preserved, and, as expected, there were plenty of people admiring them. It was lunch time, and after strolling for some minutes the center of Oviedo, a restaurant called "Salazogue" was our choice. Besides eating well in that place, there was something that resulted very interesting to us, its decoration: there were wooden and cardboard boxes hanging from the roof, of the kind used to keep vegetables and fruit. My pick from the menu was something that I had never tried before: melon soup, a cold and sweet dish that didn't leave me indifferent. When our lunch was over we reached the cathedral walking. Mariana and Marta went for a walk around the city while I was visiting it. We met an hour later near a park where Marta was burning up energy. Once we met back, our stroll continued until a cake-shop to enjoy some cakes.

Next stop: Cudillero, a fishing city, very pintoresque and touristic. Embeded in the sea reefs, this city is one of the most beautiful cities of the Cantabrian sea. Like most of the Northern small touristic villages, there is a special parking outside the village to avoid traffic-jams. As you moved away from the seaside, the number of tourists decreased, and the real Cudillero could be admired in the proper way.

Cudillero

It was time to see Cudillero off; a dinner in Aviles was waiting for us. The chosen restaurant was "Il Focolare".

 


August 20th, 2017 * Aviles-Covadonga-Bulnes-La Molinuca

Once we did the check-out from "La casa del Mar" in Aviles, we headed at about 09:30 to Covadonga. The place and its surroundings were crowded, and finding a place to park was quite difficult. We finally managed to park the car a bit far from the points of interests, "La Basílica de Santa María La Real" and "La Santa Cueva de Covadonga". After going up for fifteen minutes from the parking to these places where the "Basilica" was found. It was preach time, which was very interesting for us just for five minutes though. I didn't take any pictures just for respect to the prayers. We run into the Pelayo's statue when we left the church, a noble Goth who stopped the expansion of the moslims. He was a leading figure in the Reconquest. Our next aim was "La Santa Cueva de Covadonga", sanctuary with the Covadonga Virgin. All kind of believers could be found on the way including those who had made a vow stepping up on their knees the steppers that led to the sanctuary.

Santa María la Real de Covadonga basilica at the bottom

After visiting this beautiful place, we headed to Bulnes. Our lunch was in a village called "Ortiguero",  at a restaurant called "La Terraza". Then resumed our way to Bulnes. The whole environment around this village in "Los Picos de Europa" was very similar to The Rhodopy mountains, high walls made of stone both sides of the way with a parallel river by the narrow road leading to the funicular... yes, you heard well, this village is only reachable by funicular. The small trip takes about eight minutes and everybody has to pay for it except the ones living there. Once reached the small village, and after a small walk we climbed up a bit using a path that led to a viewpoint. The mithic peak called "El Naranjo" could be made out from there, a majestic mountain whose peak is only reachable practicing alpinism. Back in Bulnes we took the return funicular at about 18:00. We drove then bound to Alles, our sleeping place for three nights at "La Molinuca" hotel. We arrived in Alles and it was impossible to locate the hotel. After querying Google-maps, this piece of software sent us nine kilometers far from where we were. After recaching the hotel we told the receptionist about all the long way we had to drive to get there. His explanation was that the hotel was at the very border of Alles, and not at the center of the village. The check-in was at 19:30 at this hotel by the road in the middle of nowhere. The  stablishment wasn't bad at all indeed, without complains from our side except the price, it was a bit overpriced. Dinner at the hotel restaurant.

 


August 21st, 2017 * Arriondas (Sella river descent)

Our breakfast was at the "Molinuca" hotel for it was included in the price. Then headed to Arriondas where Israel and family were waiting for us. That day promised to be full of adrenaline: we were descending the Sella river with canoe. Israel, who had arrived in the area some days before us, made the arrangements to hire the canoes with the firm "Canoas Martos" for the descent. We met at the parking of "Canoas Martos" where staff from the firm gave us all the necessary for the adventure: a tight canister, a safety jacket per person and a couple of oars per canoe. Three canoes were hired, a triple one for Mariana, Marta and me, and two doubles for Israel, his wife and their two sons. A van was used to transfer us to the starting place. Fifteen kilometres rowing were waiting for us, sharing river with hundreds of canoes, thousands might be. All the villages the Sella went through were focused in giving services to all the rowing-adventurers. Plenty of firms dedicated to all the logistic needed for this event could be hired with only one requirement from the customer: money to pay these services. We had to attend a mini-course about safety before starting our small trip.

Sella river descent

The sandwiches the hotel prepared for us the day before were eaten at the first break, in a part of the bank of the river surrounded by shadows with calmed waters. From time to time the river was not more than fifteen centimetres deep where the Kajak touched the bottom of the river in such a way that the canoe had to be pushed to be able to reach a deeper part. One of those times I was hit by one kayak in the inner of my thigh while I was pushing. I had a hematoma for several days. I was not the only injured: I hit with my canoe several rowers, for the number of kayaks was extremely high and "canoe jams" were very common. The river, as the end of the routed approached, was deeper and more peaceful. In the last part of our way big trouts could be gazed out at the bottom of the clear Sella. Unfortunately the fifteen kilometres were over. Once the notice of our firm could be made out, ''Canoas Martos", we proceeded to disembark and give our canoe, oars and other stuff back, returning to our cars by van. Once on shore we entered a cafe to have some sodas from where the river Sella could be seen, the starting part of the route to be more accurate. We were back to the hotel at about 20:30. Mariana didn't feel like having dinner, so Marta and me decided to have dinner at the hotel restaurant. I had a shower and went to bed.

 


August 22nd, 2017 * Potes, Arenas de Cabrales-Mogrovejo

Breakfast at the hotel at about 09:30. For we had clothes to wash, a loundry was needed. Google showed us one in Arenas de Cabrales, 17 minutes far from the hotel by car. Our clothes were clean at 12:00. Then we made to Potes, a very picturesque Asturian village where Israel and family were waiting for us. We arrived at 14:00, and finding a place to park was a difficult task; Potes was so touristic that it was crowded. Finding a place for lunch was not easy as well; at last a table for seven could be found at "EI Refugio" restaurant. We drove to the "Santo Toribio de Liebana" monastery after lunch. It was prayers time, which included the adoration to a relic that, as per the priest, it was a piece of the cross where Christ died, a piece of the right part to be more accurate. A very good looking village could be gazed from the monastery; that village turned out to be Mogrovejo.

Mogrovejo

After speaking to some locals, among other things, they told us that some bears had been wandering the area looking for honey or some other food to eat. They had eventually attacked the cattle just to feed themselves. Another interesting fact was that the place had a special climate that made temperatures not to be so extreme. The village laid between two big mountain groups that made this circumstance possible. After the interesting conversation with these persons we sat at the "Mogrovejo bar" to fill up our batteries. The night was slowly falling and our return to "La Molinuca" was at 19:30.

 


August 23rd, 2017 * Comillas-Santander

We had breakfast in "La Molinuca" hotel like the previous days. That day was the last one in that hotel. Israel and family invited us to their rented country house, close to San Vicente de la Barquera. Our schedule was so tight and there were so many places and villages to visit that San Vicente de la Barquera was driven around instead of strolling it as accostumed. Among these interesting places was Comillas, a village with a lot of history where Gaudi left part of his legacy. This legacy was the palace-house called "EI Capricho" designed by himself, though many clues point out that he was not present in its construction but he gave instructions from Barcelona. The guide explained both all the secrets of the house and its story. It's widely known that he was a person whose mind was superior to any other mind of his times and the details of the building show this fact, blinds, windows, lights, everything 100% functional; but the most curious detail was that the floor of the building was designed in such a way that made the best of the daylight: another example of functionality.

El Capricho de Gaudí (Comillas)

It was lunch time just when our visit to "El Capricho" was over. The chosen restaurant was called "Las Ruedas" And it was at the outskirt of Comillas. It was an interesting and eye-catching restaurant; we had lunch in a garden with beautiful and cared grass where Israel's sons and Marta had a good time with some hammocks close to our table. It was time to visit the sequoia forest, an atypical place in Spain: a forest of these giant trees could be admired. Once the visit to the forest was over, we saw Israel and Tatum off. After this our way to Santander was resumed; the city was half an hour driving from where we were. We did the check in at the "Casa del Mar", a surprisingly good-looking and modern building. The receptionist explained us the interesting places to visit and the bars and restaurants area where the exquisite "pintxos" could be enjoyed. Our park was parked very close the hostelry, our luggage was left in our room and we walked to the city-centre bound to the places recommended by the receptionist. Once the city center was reached we visited a handicraft exposition. Our pick for dinner was a Bar called "Luzmela", where we ate very tasty "pintxos". When our dinner was over, resumed our way and reached the "Plazoleta del Cuadro". After eating some magnificent ice-creams from an ice-cream parlor around sitting on a bench of this square, we returned to our bedchambers at about 23:00.

 


August 24th, 2017 * Santander

The day was cloudy in Santander. We had breakfast at the canteen of the Casa del Mar. The Cabarceno Zoo was our aim thad day, possibly the biggest zoo with animals living in semi-freedom of Europe. Israel warned us, for they had already been there, that been at the entrance very early was the trick: long queues were very common; we woke up early and we were third at the queue at 09:30. Driving our car at 09:45 around the zoo was our reward for getting up so early. A funicular to see the animals from above was of compulsory use. It was something nice because it gave you a global vision of the park. Its triangular route granted you seeing the whole park. Our tour with the funicular was over just in time to assist to a birds of prey show, the best show of this kind I had ever seen. Another spectacle worth mentioning was the sea lions show, it didn't leave you indifferent. After having some fast food in the park our visit finished at about 18:30.

Cabárceno Zoo birds of prey show

After some rest in our Casa del Mar and we strolled the centre of Santander, having dinner later on. The sea-front was our way until reaching the restaurants area of the previous day. A restaurant called "La Tuta" was our choice, a place with a very good ambient and very good food. The ice-cream experience at the "Plazoleta del Cuadro" was repeated. Back in our bedchambers after a pleasant stroll, taking advantage of the nice temperature of those nights.

 


August 25th, 2017 * Santander-SantiIlana del Mar

We had breakfast at the Casa del Mar's canteen at about 10:00 A.M. We drove our car to the Camel's beach. Then we reached the "Palacio de la Magdalena" strolling; we stopped once in our way though, concretely in a huge park where Marta had a really good time. The stroll was long and, in it, we saw a statue dedicated to Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente. We drove back to the "Botin Centre", a two volumes building with different size and leaned on columns partially suspended over the sea. We parked in an underground parking close to the city centre, very close to this curious building. We walked around the area until lunch-time; the chosen restaurant was "Masamadre", located in the restaurant zone visited a couple of days before. We headed to SantiIlana del Mar after lunch.

Santillana del Mar

This village is commonly known as "The village of the three lies" because it isn't either saint, or plain, or by the sea. Its a 4184 inhabitants village, quite touristic because its streets are very pintoresque and its buildings are quite ancient. It was declared historical artistic set in 1889. The well-known Altamira caves are very close to this village.
We were back in Santander at about 18:30. We had dirty clothes to wash so we went to a laundry close to the "Casa del Mar". We had a shower and we headed strolling to the city centre, to our usual restaurants area. We entered in a burger-bar called "Hamburguesería-bar Luis" where we ate the best vegetable grill that I can remember.

 


August 26th, 2017 * Santander-Bermeo-San Sebastian

We had breakfast at our "Casa del Mar". We checked out and we drove to San Sebastian. We stopped in a viewpoint called Gaztelugatxe, a well-known place because its chapel appeared in the TV serial "Game of Thrones". A total of 243 steppers had to be climbed up to reach this chapel. After a route that lasted until 14:00, made only by Mariana and Marta, we continued our way to San Sebastian. We made a stop in Bermeo to have lunch at the "Taberna Zokoa, a bar with a real and authentic vasque ambient where the football bets of many inhabitants of the village were showed in the most visible part of the stablishment. We ate exquisite "pintxos" there, then we went on with our way at 15:00. Once we arrived in San Sebastian, we made the check in at the "Isabela" motel, a place that, bearing in mind its quality / price it wasn't worth it, though we had to pay for it because there wasn't much where to choose from in San Sebastian. We took our luggage to our room and we strolled "La Concha" beach until we reached the historical part of the city; total time of the route: an hour and a half on foot.

La Concha beach (San Sebastian)

The good ambient and the nice temperature during all the way made the stroll a quite positive experience. We ended having dinner at the "Rojo y Negro" bar, the delicious "pintxos" of this zone. After having dinner we walked back the sea-front to our motel. For we walked so much we were eager to sleep as soon as possible.

 


27-Agosto-2017 * San Sebastián-Zugarrarmurdi

We had breakfast at the "Okindegia" cafe 100 metres for from our motel. We planned to visit Zugarramurdi that day, the hidden and well-known village where the movie "Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi" was filmed. It goes without saying that we visited the "Witches Museum", a place where you can find traces of the prosecution suffered the people suspected to be a witch or a sorcerer. The way to this village was a second class road in a very bad state with room just for one car. In addition to this, there was a soft rain and a grey and cloudy sky, the right ambient to visit this village of witches. We arrived to the place, we parked our car and found out that there was a kind of local party where a quite cheerful music band was playing danceable music while they danced in a very witty way. The weather was still rainy and the sky still grey as accustomed in the North of Spain, close to the Pyrenees. touch time was approaching and we didn't had a clear idea where to enter. At last we saw the "Graxiana" restaurant where we had lunch under its terrace. Lucky for us that it was under cover because it started to shower heavily. the biggest showers in our holidays. Upon leaving the restaurant we visited the "Witches Museum". It was a place where documents about how witchcraft was prosecuted in the XV century and punished with stake, jail and other penances. Besides, the projection of a couple of films, numerous original documents related to the punishments to the alleged witches or sorcerers were exposed in a clear and enjoyable way. Upon leaving this place we tried to enter the "Zugarramurdi Caves" without success because they were closed; well, actually they were open but only for the locals who were assisting to an act related to the festivity of that day. On the way to the caves we run into the band that was playing at the village central square with even with a funnier mood than when we first saw them when we arrived. It was time to return to San Sebastian.

Zugarramurdi

After chatting with the locals, they showed us a different road to return, shorter and in better conditions. We had to go through France for about 10 kilometres , returning to Spain again. Once in San Sebastian, at about 18:00, we parked our car at the usual place, that's to say at Pio Baroja's avenue, we crossed the sea-front and we got in the funicular that took us up to the highest part of the city. A small attractions park could be found at the top where Marta had a very good time. Marta was not the only one who enjoyed that park though, Mariana and I got with her in a couple of attractions. The view of San Sebastian from that high point was simply astonishing. We were strolling the "Concha beach" sea-front at about 20:00 after taking the funicular down. We reached the most western part of the sea-front where we could admire a monument of Chillida called "El Peine del Viento". There were some holes in the floor through which the sea waves made preasure in such away that a strong that a strong jet of air rushed out across them. We returned then to the hotel and we had dinner in a small bar close to our motel called "Bar-Cervecería Pepe". We were done at 22:00 and at 22:30, after a short stroll around our motel area, we went to bed.

 


August 28th, 2017 * San Sebastian-Burgos

That was our last day in San Sebastian. We had breakfast at a cafe close to the hotel called "Cafetería Tahona". We walked again to the historical part of the city along the sea-front paralell to "La Concha" beach. Marta didn't want to leave San Sebastian without having a bath on the before mentioned beach, so she left with Mariana and I went by myself to stroll the historical part. Time passed by and after several kilometres warning, we met at the agreed point with my two women. We kept on with our walk together for a long while until lunchtime. We entered a pintxos bar as accustomed called Itxaso. Our car and hotel were far away and we decided to catch a taxi until Pio Baroja avenue, where our car was parked. We had checked out earlier in the morning, took our luggage down having everything ready at 10:00 AM, in such a way that when we got down the taxi, we made directly to Burgos. Heavy showers in our way down to Burgos!! We reached this city at 18:30 and the sky was grey and the weather was always rainy. We did the check in at the "Happy hostel Carrales".

Burgos, its Cathedral at the bottom

Though the evening invited to stay in, we dedided to go to any shopping centre around to spend the rest of the day under cover. After asking the receptionist we came to the conclusion that this kind of places was not so common in this city, and the existing ones were not very good, either because of its size or because of its scarce number of business in them. Finally we found an area with three or four shops, El Corte Ingles among them and Decathlon. We entered both of them out EI Corte Ingles turned out to be an outlet of that firm, disappointing. Decathlon was a bit bigger, nothing out of this world though. We had dinner in a restaurant below our hotel. Worth mentioning is that as we went down to the southern Spain, the typical pintxos were unfortunately disappearing from the glass cases of the bars.

 


August 29th, 2017 * Burgos-Cáceres

The bad weather was no longer present in Burgos. We had breakfast in a cafe 300 metres far from our hotel. Then we made to the Cathedral, one of the most important in Spain. It goes without saying that it was astonishing both outside and inside. Not in vane it was the cathedral of the old capital of Spain. With its gothics facades, it has a distinctive profile. It was declared National Monument on April 8th 1885 and Word Heritage site by Unesco on October 31th 1984. Once we left the cathedral we strolled the city until we reached the "Cid Campeador" statue.

Burgos, the "Cid Campeador" statue at the bottom

After this we parted bound to Caceres at about 13:15. What promised to be a touch at any restaurant on the way to Caceres, it became a real struggle to find a single place to eat. After trying in a couple of small villages without success, we found a petrol station by a hotel including a restaurant. We entered the hotel "Mirador de Almanzon", that was the name of the place, at about 15:00. Once we had lunch we resumed our way to Caceres, reaching our destination at 19:30. The weather was unpleasant again. Heavy rains could be made out at the horizont and a thunder from time to time lighted the dark day. Finally we reached our touristic apartments "Al-Cazires" where the owner was waiting for us. It was the second time we slept there, we couldn't remember how uncomfortable was the sofa-bed to sleep though. I found a place to park very close the apartment. We took our luggage up and straighaway we went walking around the old "Caceres". We visited the "Santa Maria Concatedral". Taking advantage of the lack of people on the streets, I could make good pictures of this temple. We had even the chance to go up to the belt tower from where the whole Caceres could be amazingly made out. We chose the restaurant of the "Alfonso IX" hotel for dinner, already familiar to us for we had stayed there in the year 2004. We returned to our apartment at about 22:30.

 


August 30th, 2017 * Caceres-Algeciras

We headed to to Algeciras just after having breakfast at our apartment. We took all our luggage in the car and we made bound home, stopping in Seville to have lunch, in a service area ten or twelve kilometres far from Seville, to be more accurate, where we had already stopped in previous years when we were making the same route. We resumed our way after lunch, reaching our house at about 17:00. We had crossed Spain from North to South and from West to East going along the Cantabrian sea, around 3700 kilometres.