From Spain to France (southern)
19.06.2012 - 29.06.2012 39 °C
We sadly left our friends in Dueñas at 1:00 pm and started our drive north. The drive went from being interesting to absolutely amazing. The drive up through the Picos de Europe was some of the windiest road we’ve ever been on. The fog rolled in, so it was difficult to see the view, but wow!!! ¡¡impresionante!! After driving for a few hours, we arrived to the town/city of Cangis de Onis. We could not find the ‘casa rural’ and the owner came down to greet us. We followed her back to the tiny town of Caño and up a narrow and windy and narrow and windy mountain road for about 2.8 km. The house was really, cute – very rustic with an amazing view. It was very wet and inside a bit cool. Downstairs was a male boar head that the girls named “Wilbur”. Upstairs was a female boar head that Ansley called “Wilma”.
On June 20th, we drove to a cute coastal village named Llanes. The architecture in the north of Spain is quite different from the south. In the south, the streets are narrow and designed to keep out the heat. In the north, windows face south and have enclosed balconies to capture the limited sun. In Llanes there is a jetty called "cubos de memoria" which consist of large concrete blocks painted in a variety of artistic styles.
From Llanes we attempted to look for dinosaur tracks in a nearby town, but no luck. On our return trip, we visited the town of Cangis de Onis and walked over the infamous ‘puente romano’.
On June 21st we headed off for another coastal village called Villaviciosa. Well, our GPS decided to take us up through the mountains and we’re happy ‘she’ did, as it was a spectacular drive. From Villaviciosa we went to one of our favorite cities in Spain, Oviedo. I think I could spend a lot more time in this city….
From the lovely casa rural, we drove to the east, to the city of Santander. We spent the night couchsurfing and enjoyed going to the port of the city. The city itself is not one of the most attractive in the north, but the coast is a marvel. Our couchsurf host told us that the city of Santander had been subjected to two fires and as a result, much of the city is new and lacks historic monuments like much of the rest of Spain. The next morning, we woke up early and went out to the end of Santander, the peninsula, where there is a small zoo and wonderful play park and also one of two summer mansions for the royal family of Spain.
From Santander we drove…we did not have time to dip into the city of Bilbao, nor visit the Guggenheim museum (I suppose that will have to wait for another time…), but we did decide to take a bit of time to visit the city of San Sebastian (Donastia). I think I could spend a lot more time in this city… San Sebastian has a very different feel to it than any of the other cities we have visited in Spain. It has a more international feel to it "je ne sais pas". It has an exquisite beach/bay with a prommenade and a beautiful carousel and the city feels like what we think the French Riviera would be like. I think I could spend a lot more time in this city...
From San Sebastian, the French border is a mere 20+ km. We were all getting so excited about entering and I pulled out our passports, thinking we would have to show identification and explain what we were doing. We paid a toll of 2.80 euros, then we saw a sign for: FRANCE. How anticlimactic that was! About 1 hr later, we arrived at our next couchsurf host, in the town of Oloron Sainte Marie. This is a small town situated at the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. Well – as we will be in France for close to two weeks, it’s time to pull out my little notebook and learn some basic French.
S’il vous plait
Comment Ça va?
My goal…each day learn 3 or 4 or 5 words or expressions in French…as we spend a bit of time in each European country hopefully we’ll learn basic phrases in the language of the country.
On June 24th, after a relaxing morning, our host told us of a nearby village at the base of the Pyrenees. We drove to Lescun and had one of those experiences that seemed surreal. Sitting at the little restaurant, doing our best to order a cup of coffee and some juice and staring out at the mountains and saying nothing more than “Wow! Wow! We’re in France – we’re in the Pyrenees – wow!” We walked through the village, took some short hikes and just soaked it all in. It was an incredible sight and we did our best to soak it all in. We soaked in plenty of sun, and came back to the host’s house very hot and tired.
From Oloron Sainte Marie, we headed north, to the Dordogne Valley of France. Our destination was a very small village (Borda) outside a small village called Vergt. On the way to our next host, we first stopped in the historic and picturesque village called Bergerac, which is a huge wine producing area.
We spent three nights with this wonderful family who has three children. The parents speak English, but the children don't. So, it was an interesting time to find ways to communicate. One day we went to Perigueux and absolutely picture perfect French village (I really don't know how else to describe it).
For our last night with this family, we went to a nearby lake (lac) and had an amazing meal at a family run restaurant. Vegetarian fare - a la frances - with organic produce and wine. It doesn't get much better.
We left Vergt and headed north. As I finish up this blog writing, we are now outside another picturesque village called Decize. We are staying with another incredible family and taking in wonderful sites. We will tell you all more about that in the next edition.
Bonjour, bonsoir, bon nuit et au revoir…La famille Dunning