cantabria & asturias
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after spending a few days in and around san sebastian, we headed west towards galicia. we had 3 days to hit nigran. also we had to make it to santander to have lunch with silvie (a good friend i met while living in manila), so we took the expressway from san sebastian. this takes around 2 hours on the A-8 and its actually not as boring since it goes through some very nice looking places.
lunch in santander was good thanks to the company, but food was absolutely horrible. this is where i need to make emphasis on how difficult it is to have a bad meal in the north. we were the most unlucky. we were looking for a place near the beach and at the same time, somewhere where we could sit while watching the bikes (we had luggage on them). we ended up at cafetería orsay, right outside artamentos las brisas. they charged us the ridiculous amount of 17 € for a "menu del día" which was worth absolutely nothing. paella was horrible, spaghetti was worse (how hard can it be to cook spaghetti???) and the fish was prehistoric... thank god we were with silvie and friends, they saved the day!!!
after lunch we continued our trip riding past comillas and san vicente de la barquera. these must have been some of the most beautiful sights we´ve seen on our trip. the coastline gets pretty rough and the cliffs make incredibly nice pictures. again, if you come here during the last days of july or during august, you will be sorounded by a constant sea of people. but still... worth seeing.
shortly after san vicente de la barquera we took a detour to continue through the mountains towards cangas de onis and oviedo instead of going along the coastline towards llanes and gijón.
i have driven through these roads several times before. always in a car. only now i realised how impressive the mountains are and really felt we were minuscule compared to the rock walls rising above our heads. we took part of the road that goes around the "parque nacional picos de europa" and decided to turn back and leave that road for another ocasion. i guess this will remain on my "to do list" a little longer.
the alternative route we chose to take was not bad at all. driving through the north side of the national park, through cabrales and very close to "lagos de covadonga" was just what we needed. sharp turns, steep slopes, and beautiful sights. i need to mention, if you like strong cheese, you need to visit the region of cabrales...
our day ended at cangas de onis. a cozy little town with extremely friendly people and really good and cheap food.
we stayed at a hotel called los robles, and to be honest, we did not have to go very far to find a restaurant for dinner or a bar to have a few drinks. they offer a lunch menu for 9,50€ and a dinner menu for 10€. we ordered extra bread and extra drinks including coffee and they did not charge any extra whatsoever... absolutely fantastic.
i need to make a special mention to maria jesus... the woman in charge of the tobacconist right next to the hotel. i went in to buy some rolling tobacco, filters and papers and ended up having this very interesting talk with her. aparently she lived in angola for 16 years before the war. i think i would love to pay her a little visit some time soon. maybe even send her a postcard!!!