Sunday, 22 September 2013


 We've checked into the Hotel Bahia in Santander - v plush for us. We've checked out the foot-passenger access for the ferry tomorrow, and put the excellent car back into the hire-pound.
Today's journey across the whole of the north of Spain was lyrically beautiful - the Picos de Europe mountains are stunning. Earlier, as we climbed out of Galicia through the forested hilltops, we passed a horse-fair combined with a Sunday market, in the middle of nowhere   in the forests... it could have been a scene from the Middle Ages.
It was a real wrench to leave Galicia - we had such a rich time. The warm weather helped, but in fact the whole landscape is so compelling with broad estuaries, forested hillsides, amazing bridges and viaducts on the motorways and side-roads, prosperous little farms tucked into every available space in the hills, and a lavish, glorious cuisine using every single kind of shellfish, sea-fish, fruit and vegetable - not forgetting the local pork and beef.... nom nom.
Yesterday we spent the largest part of the day on the beach - talking, laughing, eating and drinking. We went out on a pedalo (sp?. I very nearly swam - about half-immersed but the water was pretty chilly compared to the hot air. We had also been back to the marvellous little market - and walked a little way up the Pontedeume Camino - ...   I had not realised how many of these Caminoes there are - from all directions, all heading for Santiago. I was a bit put off, at the beginning of our stay, because all our footpath walks (camino or not) were definitely affected by the loo-paper adornments which decorated the paths... and we had met the Canadian lady who complained about the same thing, but we subsequently met two guys from Whitstable and Stratford on Avon who htad had a wonderful time - doingthe so-called English Camino which starts at Ferrol.
The day before we all went up to the NW corner of Galicia to view the highest cliffs in S Europe - and our first stop was not disappointing, at 500 m.   We could see the whole landscape laid out, galloping down to the Atlantic, and loved the whole set-up, with the huge carpark covered in white marble chips, and excellent guidance boards showing the geology and and maps.  Unfortunately, the next stop, at the highest point - 600m - was so shrouded in Dartmoorian mist and fog, that the most we could see was a line of fenceposts and wire, stretching out all of 10m away from us....  
Our stop at the nearby village of St Andrew - a huddle of stone houses and a rather atmospheric church with a bald empty nave and ecstatically gilded chancel - was amusing. We did not buy any of the tat on offer, but admired a couple of tiny derelict cottages dying to be done up and let out, and bought some mountain honey.
At this moment, wrapped in a large bathtowel in the hotel, I can think of nothing better than to crawl into bed.  Tomorrow we'll check with the carhire people that all the paperwork is in order, and perhaps buy some bits and bobs, and then make our way to the ship.
We leave behind our friends in Pontedeume, who - lucky buggers - are free to go and eat churros and hot chocolate whenever they want, and buy a little portion of percebes or paella on a whim.  The ingredients are so good. That is what makes the difference.

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