Along the Cantabrian Sea
The northern coast is absolutely beautiful and just my kind of coast: jagged cliffs, rocky beaches and lots of vegetation that sneaks right up to the water. It reminded us a lot of the portion of the Oregon coastline that we’ve explored.
Heading west out of Donostia we didn’t get too far before we had to stop, on recommendation from one of the men we’d met the night prior at La Sidreria Zelaia. In Getaria, we tried a glass of of the local, light, white wine called Txokoli. Don’t hold it against me that it wasn’t quite noon yet – it was simply divine! Our drive continued along the coast with a few brief rain showers to liven things up a bit.
We turned inland to pay tribute to the town of Gernika, the lives that were lost and a community which was crippled during the horrific bombing of 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. From there it was on to Bilbao, where we had thought we’d skip seeing the Guggenheim because we figured it would be too hard to find and too much of a detour, when out of nowhere we shot out of a tunnel on the freeway and were suddenly up close and personal with the iconic building. We quickly switched up our plans given that we were now too close to NOT stop and while we didn’t go in to the museum, we enjoyed our picnic out on the grounds, under careful watch of the giant floral puppy that stands guard over the entrance.
At some point we left the Basque Country and entered the state of Cantabria and overnighted in the city of Santander. We were there just long enough to enjoy the best freakin’ calamari I’ve ever had in my life and enjoy a concert of the famed Joaquin Sabina – a momentousl
The second day took us through even more beautiful country as we continued our quest to fall deeper in love with the Cantabrian Coastline. Stopping in the ever-charming town of Santillana del Mar we loaded up on local cheeses for future picnicking and had one last dose of cider and cider-sausage as we would soon be exiting cider-country. Somewhere in between Comillas and San Vicente de la Barquera the conversation inevitably shifted to “We should see how much it costs to rent a small bungalow here. You know, I could write & you could geek out during the day and in the evenings we can ride our bikes to the local pub for a pint and a tapa….and then….”.
It’s that kind of place, that kind of scenery.
Fortunately the wind kept me sane and I didn’t call my broker up in the heat of the moment to second mortgage our bungalow back home. One thing I hate more than sand, is wind. And it is windy up in these here parts. But there would be windows in our little bungalow, right….and it can’t always be this windy….RIGHT???
Alas, we left the dream behind and continued on towards our stopover point for the evening. As we entered the state of Asturias, the giant, pointy, snow-capped peaks of the Picos de Europa National Park could be seen off to our left. We were tempted to veer off to see if we could get to one of the lookout points into the national park, but smartly decided it would be too much for one day and found our way to Gijon, our pitstop point.
Our final stop on our tour of the Cantabrian coast was Praia das Catedrais Beach, which we found immediately upon entering the state of Galicia the following morning. The love and friendliness we received at the Sidreria Zelaia just kept on proving itself, as this stop became part of our itinerary only after another man and regular of the cider joint and recommended it to us. Not only had he told us we must go, but explained we had to time our visit during low tide, for the cathedrals to open up. We were intrigued enough by this recommendation to go for it and timed our stop just as we’d been instructed.
With that beautiful stop behind us, we decided it was time to exit the coastal drive and head inland, into the heart of Galicia and over to the Atlantic side of the Iberian Peninsula.