A Day at the Beach
As our time in our house rental is coming to a close, we had plans to make a day trip to the north coast for a change of scenery. We had so far been focusing on in-land destinations and since we were in the northern part of Spain it made sense to take the short drive to explore towns along the coast. We had a few destinations in mind for our trip yesterday, one taking us just over the border into south-western France.
We arrived in the town of Saint-Jean de Luz in the early afternoon. The sun was doing it’s best to break through the clouds and we soon had sunny weather again as we were walking along the boardwalk adjacent to the beach. It had warmed up somewhat since the day before but it was still only in the 10-15 range. While Barb and I were zipping up our jackets to keep warm, we were surprised to see some die hard people actually in the water, swimming at the beach. Nonetheless, despite the cooler temperatures, the sun being out made the whole visit to Saint-Jean de Luz quite enjoyable. We enjoyed a nice seafood lunch and spent additional hours leisurely strolling through the pedestrian-only streets while window-shopping.
Barb and I agreed that being in France once again and being able to actually speak to people in restaurants and stores seemed oddly satisfying after several days of language challenges in Spain.
Today is Monday and it’s our last day in our country house in Uztegi so we’ll be packing up and moving on to our ext destination. We woke up today to bright sunshine and despite the mixed weather that we’ve seen over the past 6 days it was an enjoyable, relaxing beginning to our trip. We were heading westwards and a 2.5 hour drive got us to our next destination in the town of Llanes on the north coast of Spain.
One of the main reasons for staying in the area around Llanes was that we wanted to visit the Picos de Europa National Park which is about a 40 minute drive from our hotel in Llanes. Barb and I spent the whole day in the park on Tuesday and we could have easily spent many more full days there exploring all the different parts of Picos de Europa. The weather continued to be cooler than normal around 15 degrees and overcast but we were determined to explore the park as it was rated be one of the most spectacular natural locations in all of Europe. We weren’t disappointed.
Since we knew that we were going to be going to higher elevations within the park and that the temperature would we colder that in Llanes we dressed in the warmest clothing that we had brought, putting on multiple layers preparing to do some hiking amongst the many, many trails within the park. However it was not enough. By the time that we reached our destination of Los Lagos (“the lakes”) which are the two lakes of Lake Erol and Lake Ercina the temperature had dropped considerably and it was raining steadily.
Normally these lakes would offer spectacular views and regularly draw huge crowds during the summer but when we visited yesterday the parking lot was 90% empty. Being at an elevation of around 1100 meters the temperature had dropped to about 4 degrees and raining (see picture above of Barb trying to stay warm) so we had to make the decision that we just were not suitably dressed for a hike and had to turn back.
However after driving the 12 Km of winding roads from the Los Lagos area down to the bottom, passing cows and sheep on the side of the roads, some of the clouds started to part and sun began to peek through. We decided that we wanted to continue driving through different areas of the park and we were both glad that we did as we got to experience many great views. The views of the mountains and valleys in the sun were quite spectacular and we came across many streams of blueish-turquoise coloured water. One of my favourite photos taken so far is from that area of the park and was taken next to the orange hostel next to the turquoise coloured water.
In addition to the Picos de Europa national park nearby to our current location in Llanes, the other distinguishing factor in the area is the abundance of beaches. We took a drive along the coast today and visited about a half dozen of the most incredible beaches that we’ve ever seen, all within about a 30 minute drive. We could have easily gone to 20 more beaches just by extending our range by another 20 kilometres. Both Barb and I brought our swim suits but the weather was still far too cold (about 13 degrees today) to swim in fact with the wind blowing it was quite cold just walking around. We’ve had a mix of clouds, rain and sun over the past few days so when the weather turns sunny we enjoy it all the more.
By the way, now that we have regular Internet access in our hotel I’ve started uploading my photos to my Excellent Adventure photo blog here. The photos that I put in these blog posts are always smaller, lower resolution versions of my photos. I maintain the high-resolution versions on my photo blog. I’ll keep adding photos to my photo blog throughout the trip.
As of today (Wednesday), we officially have one week left in our trip to Spain. We’ll be on the road again tomorrow morning moving to our next stop for a few days then on to our last destination of Madrid where we will be ending our trip. I’ll post the final version of our 2nd Spanish Adventure some time when we’re in Madrid.