Location: Playa de Villanueva
Time: 2:53 pm;
Date: Saturday, November 5;
Temperature: 19 degrees in the shade, short sleeves in the sun;
Mission: Sit on Playa de Villanueva (Villanueva Beach located a few kilometres from Llanes) with iPad and write blog in an attempt to get up-to-date;
Probability of getting some writing done: high;
Probability of bringing the blog right up to date: low
Excuse: too much going on during the day to write for long and CrossCountry Bob is not a prolific evening writer. Paintin’ Peggie might refer to CrossCountry Bob writing in the evening as the definition of “hopeless” and CrossCountry Bob is old enough to not bother denying the obvious.
CrossCountry Bob last left you saying Adios to Haro and the Rioja wine region with the mighty duo bound for Llanes. If one part of Spain could be called under-populated, it would be the northwest diagonal from Haro to the coast through mountain valleys, slow winding roads, few cars and fewer small villages. The pictures tell the tale…
And of course, the BIG vultures in those mountains were a bit of a surprise. CrossCountry Bob didn’t see enough roadkill to keep these monsters occupied but they seemed in fine form.
Exiting the mountain valleys near Santander, there was a rapid transition from no more vultures and three stone house villages to the busier modern life of bigger towns and abundant tailgating Spaniards.
And then…the “Océano Atlántico” makes its first appearance. “I love the ocean”, says Paintin’ Peggie, not for the first time. CrossCountry Bob nods and slips those words into his “Pay Attention” folder.
Llanes, a town on the Atlantic coast, is the base for the next week. In Llanes, the Picos de Europa are next door and the ocean is a stroll away. This time, CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie have chosen an in-town apartment for 7 days – wow! – a change of pace to be sure, but, hey, let’s just see how it goes. The plan is to eat dinners in the apartment and have lunches out to experience the local cuisine. CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie are not cut out for restaurants that open at 8 pm for dinner. And this pains CrossCountry Bob to say, but the usual Spanish cuisine is dull except for some tapas and a few specialties such as fresh calamari (both fried and grilled – the key is fresh squid, not frozen) and, of course, pulpo a la gallega (yummy – octopus sliced and fried with spices). Paintin’ Peggie took a pass on the pulpo as well as on this yummy revuelto – a mix of prawns and eel bits held together by scrambled egg. CrossCountry Bob took a deep breath and tucked right in – and…it was rather tasty (decided a somewhat relieved CrossCountry Bob even if his stomach is mostly iron).
LLanes is a tourist place for the most part, but pleasant enough in November with few tourists about.
The LLanes coastline is classic Asturian coast with meandering cliffs and small beaches tucked into rocky nooks like jigsaw puzzle pieces, all with the Picos de Europa as a backdrop…
The first big adventure into the Picos de Europe was to the Ruta del Dures. Very popular in Spain provided you are relatively fit and don’t mind trails with looonnnng drop offs. CrossCountry Bob knew well enough to keep his eyes on the trail and not glance over the edge while walking. That way, the vertigo stayed under control (just). Paintin’ Peggie led the way onto the trail (up, up and up for the first two kilometres)
Paintin’ Peggie climbed (it seemed to CrossCountry Bob) like a chamois (recall that CrossCountry Bob groused that he had seen none of these). Well, the theory is that if the chamois won’t come to CrossCountry Bob, then CrossCountry Bob will go the chamois. Gotta love it when theory becomes fact…
By the time CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie had hiked in five kilometres it was enough. After all, the knees of CrossCountry Bob are not fond of downhill on steep, rocky trails and five kilometres back out was going to max out what the knees had left in reserve. Paintin’ Peggie had a few aches and pains kicking in as well but it was a price well paid.
For a change of pace and recovery time for the knees, CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie thought the next day would be a good time to visit a local market. Most villages have a weekly public market, farm produce and clothes (?) being the main attractions. Most markets are peaceful affairs but then CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie didn’t know that Potes might be different. The only road in and out was also the market street and it was just contained chaos with traffic police blowing whistles and waving cars here and there (just like the movies!) and people wandering randomly (including crossing in front of cars without a glance). This was an area where wooden walking sticks were an almost mandatory accessory (for the men mostly – this is Spain after all). CrossCountry Bob is not sure why but figured it was probably a Basque tradition but in any event it was clearly useful for prodding and pushing aside the abundant horse dung that almost seemed to be growing out of the pavement as a result of the large number of horses brought into town for what was, apparently, a horse auction or show. Either way, CrossCountry Bob was tempted to buy one of those walking sticks but Paintin’ Peggie (ever practical) pointed out that it wouldn’t fit in the suitcase and it sure couldn’t be carried onboard the aircraft – so CrossCountry Bob reluctantly let that prospective purchase slide into the stupid bin.
With that done, here are a few market scenes taken from the car as we navigated our way along market street…
The Potes market was a fun and successful day (CrossCountry Bob defined success in this instance as avoiding stepping in the horse stuff and not getting whacked by old Spaniards waving their walking sticks about), but it was time to scoot on back to Llanes for food and refreshments. After all, tomorrow was on the way and there would be no markets on that day but instead a trek waaaay up high into the Picos. Should be more nature trails and less horse deposits up there but we shall see. Spain can be a surprise.
Tune in shortly for that.