Driving the rural Spanish coast
Faro de Lluces
I sit writing this as the wind howls outside and the rain hits in sheets. It's blowing around 18 MPH with gusts to around 30. I'm happy to be inside and warm with someone I love. It's nasty out there. Which make this a great time to share the amazing photos we took today! Conditions were perfect and we took advantage of this.
Overcast and gray
We rose at a reasonable hour (around 9 a.m.), bid our hotel in Bilbao goodbye, and walked to the train station. We picked up our rental car and headed out of the city and into the countryside on the driving portion of our adventure. It was actually much easier to exit the city than I expected as we actually didn’t have to drive THROUGH the city….just out of it.
Our rental car is a VW Golf, a newer version of Laurie’s first new car back in the 80’s. This one has entirely too much electronic stuff, and this is coming from an engineer who does tech well. You lose a screen in this thing and you’re stranded. It does have a 6 speed manual box, the first time I’ve ever driven a six speed.
Cold water surfers
It had very little fuel so we stopped a few miles outside of Bilbao to fill up. It cost 68 Euros or 75 dollars. It is sold by liters and I had to do a bit of math to translate it to US terms. Gas cost me a little less than 7 US dollars a gallon. It’s not cheap anywhere in Europe and is more expensive further north.
Lunch in a town we don't remember the name
We stopped at a beach along the way and took a few photos before heading on. It wasn’t that impressive and the sky was overcast with a heavy haze. The photos were not impressive. It was a nice place but not at its prettiest. The surfers were working the waves, locals were walking their dogs, it was nice.
Cabo de Ajo
Our next stop was the faro at Cabo de Ajo. Lighthouses in Spain are called “faro” and Cabo de Ajo translates to “cape of garlic”. An artist painted this lighthouse a few years ago and it became famous. The views were better and if it had been sunny it would have been a wonderful vista, but this was not the case. We took photos of the lighthouse and the coast and moved on.
Our final stop of the day was Llanes, Spain, a small coastal town that turned out to be pretty awesome. We took photos of the little lighthouse at the edge of town that I said was a “sad little lighthouse” and Laurie said was a “cute little lighthouse”. I’m used to REAL lighthouses, like Hatteras light, Bodie Island, and Portland Head. My lighthouses are much more impressive.
Sad or cute? You be the judge.
Llanes was a fun town, much smaller than the places we’ve been staying but very bustling nonetheless. It was what I would consider the perfect size town, not big and easy to get around, but enough going on that it’s not boring. We looked in a few of the shops, had a nice dinner, then went off in search of a hotel.
The north coast of Spain is a summertime get away, and we’re traveling off season. A lot of the hotels have closed for winter and lodgings are fewer and further between. We have always been able to find something, always quite nice, and always at a huge discount from U.S. hotels. Our Llanes hotel was 80 euros (about 87 bucks), had a balcony, and the room was very nice and huge. A similar hotel in downtown Nashville would cost us $400.
Much nicer than yesterday
We rose this morning and had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. It was a very good buffet with fresh eggs, meats, breads, fruits, and pastries. All you can drink juice and REALLY good coffee was included. It cost 8 euros (around 9 dollars). We pack into the car and we’re on our way west along the coast.
Reminds me of Oregon
We drive back through farm country to a random overlook. It’s sunny and clear and we’re able to take much better photos. The coast is rocky and rough and the waves crash into the rocks with huge plumes of spray. We share the overlook with the cows of a local farmer who actually owns the land above the cliffs.
Hangin' out with critters
We kept seeing concrete markers with a plate on top. It turns out these are used to mark the boundary of private land and public land. The coasts are all considered “public” in Spain. The farmer who owns the land in the middle of the peninsula was kind enough to let walkers onto the land so they could see the view.
Beautiful vistas with beautiful light
We return to the car and drive back towards the Spanish equivalent of an interstate, route A-8. This “autovia” runs east to west near the northern coast. We pop on the A-8, or as google maps calls it “A minus 8”, and head west towards our next coastal venture.
The view from above. Lluces lighthouse
We leave the A-8 and head back towards the coast, a distance of about 6 miles. We drive through tiny groups of farm houses, pastures, and narrow lanes. We soon arrive at Faro de Lluces, a lighthouse on the cliffs several miles from town. I’m excited about visiting this particular lighthouse.
The locals on a country lane
I spent quite a few hours studying, taking tests, achieving certification, registering my drone in Europe, and registering myself as a pilot. This was where I planned on making it all pay off. We arrived and found calm winds, clear skies, and sun……a perfect day to fly! I put the drone in the air and shot amazing photos!!!!
Laurie was very patient while I flew, taking photos, doing stretches and yoga stuff in a pretty place…but it was time to move on. We drove from there to the town of Cudillero. We fell prey to google maps, which brought us right through town. While this is a small town with around 5000 total people, the streets are barely wide enough for one car…..and they are two way.
This was the wide part!!
It was a dicey ride down into a gorge between two cliffs where the town is located. It turns out when you encounter a car coming the other way, you have to find a stretch wide enough for one car to run up on the sidewalk so the other can get by. This occurs on a road with a pitch not found on roads in the states……it was straight up and down. We were gonna have a hell of a time getting out of here.
The town is gorgeous, with colorful buildings falling right down to the sea. The restaurants serve fresh seafood caught just offshore. The local fishermen dock their boats in the harbor, protected by sea walls from the huge waves that hammer the coast.
Across the harbor and up the holler
We finally weave through the town and find a large parking area on the furthest end of town. This is the fun part. We find out that there is a modern paved WIDE road from the far end of town up and out of the gorge. Thanks a lot google maps. That’s sarcasm by the way.
A large part of the photos are from Laurie. She's really good.
We wander the town, have tapas, take photos, buy a souvenir fridge magnet, and zip right up the new road right out of town and back up towards the A-8. We try one of the nearby hotels but find it is closed for winter. Phone searches yield a “spa hotel” around 30 miles further west, right along the way. We decide to see if that’s workable.
Drying the nets
We arrived at Blanco Hotel Spa, on the edge of the town of Navia. From the parking lot this looks like a definite stay. We park and go into a deserted lobby where we book the nicest room they have. It is sort of a suite, with two balconies, two sitting areas, a king sized bed, and super fast internet. It is VERY nice…..for $109.
Laurie’s ability to speak pretty good Spanish has been so valuable. Most people in this region speak little if any English. That’s okay….we ARE in Spain. We end up having drinks and dinner in the hotel bar/cafe. The locals stop to eat and have drinks as well. It’s quite busy.
Sundown from the A-8
We’re back in the room and getting ready for bed. Tomorrow is going to be flexible. We need to do laundry and make it to A Coruna, about two hours away. I have a laundromat picked out in Navia and the rest of the day will go how it goes.