On our way from San Sebastian to El Burgo de Osma our car was pulled aside by the police along with many other cars. Confused we stepped out of the vehicle and walked around among the other confused bystanders. Then we saw something approaching in the distance. First came car after car packed with bike gear. Then a cheese commercial vehicle playing tunes. And then finally we saw group after group of bicycle racers. It was the Vuelto a Burgo driving by.
When the bicycle race had passed we drove on and came to the amazing Mirador de la Galiana, where we marveled at the view over the Cañón del Rio Lobos and the many vultures and ravens soaring through the air.
El Burgo de Osma was another spanish gem. Great town, beautiful setting and lovely atmosphere. Apart from enjoying the towns historic sites, we also went shopping for an iberico ham to take home, settling for a prime specimen bought in a local meat shop. We named it Osma after the town.
It was the trips last stay so we felt that the stay had to be grand, so we had dinner at a local high end restaurant, Virrey Palafox, where I had one of the most beautiful Beef Wellingtons in my life. Then an evening stroll in the town and ending with cigar and red whine at the town square while watching the locals enjoying the coolness of the night.
And then it was back to Copenhagen with a hoof sticking out of our baggage ;)
Arriving in San Sebastian was like Bilbao a bit of a hassle, since the traffic was terrible, but as soon as the car was parked the city was a delight. We stayed at the cozy and homily Pensión Amaiur, which we warmly recommend. Great place with a kitchen and it is located right in the middle of the tapas district!
Our exploration of the city took us along the iconic La Concha beach, the weather was unfortunately a bit too windy and cold for a day at the beach, but there is so much more to see in this city, that it was not a problem. At the end of the beach’s walkway stands Eduardo Chillidas’ “El Peine de los Vientos” statue that looks like metal claws fighting the ocean, a marvelous peace of art. We then walked through the town center and went to see the surfer at Playa de la Zurriola.
But most of our stay in the city was spend wallowing in the pintxo (that’s what they call tapas) district. Our favorite place was the hip, where we enjoyed great wines and the trips best tapas including goat cheese with iberico ham, sun dried tomatoes and honey, hearts served with heart shaped beets and mini kebab.
On our way through Northern Spain we stopped by Bilbao to see the Guggenheim Museum. It was throughly hell to find our way through the town center, where we kept getting lost. The museum building was beautiful, but I must admit I was a bit disappointed about it’s size. I thought it would be bigger – a typical feeling I guess, when you get to visit something you’ve been dreaming to see. The art on display was not very impressive either, although there were a few works that were impressive (but none that I would travel to see).
The museums michelin lunch restaurant on the other side gave us a truly terrific experience. First we had a look around the kitchen which was very interesting. Then we were seated and the dishes started pouring in including tomatoes with added flavor, sardines,an onion disguised as a fish filet, cod jaws, fish stomach, pig tails and 3 wonderful desserts.
Bilbao and the museum had left us a bit sad, but after filling our stomachs in such a luxurious manner, we were very content when we drove on toward San Sebastian.
One of the finest moments on our trip through Northern Spain was our stay at Cedeira. Before we arrived to the town we saw it from the surrounding hills and it looked so beautiful that we decided to stay over in there although it had not been the plan. It is a truly idyllic place with a great atmosphere and a myriad of tapas bars – although we ended up going for a steak instead, which was perfectly done.
After relaxing in the town for a few hours we headed out to the viewpoint San Andres de Teixido, to see the sunset. The landscape in this area feels almost Scottish, so no wonder people here feel connected with the celtic culture. Waiting for the sunset surrounded by mountains, green hills and the ocean, while wild horses passed by, felt mythical and those hours were my absolute favorite for the whole trip.
When we came back to the town the Celtic feel of the area continued. In the city square there was a cozy celtic festival with booths where you could by food, celtic outfits, armor etc. There was also a marvelous celtic band that moved around the market while playing on their weird looking instruments and creating the perfect atmosphere. We had kebabs, fries and a big jug of sangria from which we drank via straws.
All in all one of the most perfect holiday days in my life :)
When we woke the next morning, we were amazed to find that Cedeira had changed completely.
The river that ran through the town center, and which had given the most idyllic setting the day before, was now almost totally dried out. The rest of the town also seemed more dead. The most romantic and idyllic holiday spot has thus transform as in a fairy tale over night. So we recommend you visit this adorable place when the tide is right ;)
We drove on toward the east following the coast and came to Oviedo. A lovely city with a beautiful cathedral and lots of cider. They even have a cider street, that actually smells of cider, this is due to a tradition for the waiters to pour the beverage into the glass when the flask is held an arms length above the glass and while not looking at it – which does create quite a lot of spilling.
Ever since we started our journey through Northern Spain, we had seen the name A Coruña on motorway signs, so we decided – half brainwashed to do so – to visit the city.
Driving in A Coruña is pure hell, but after an hour of teeth grinding frustration we finally found our Hotel, which luckily offered Parking. After 5 minuttes of power relaxation in our room, we went out to look at the city and – as usual – taste the local cuisine. First we tried out some items on a menu that we had no idea what was. Daring the unknown food items had until now only given us positive surprises, but this time we were not so lucky, since the dish was badly cooked pig’s ear. Horrible!
A walk in the city did not help on our mood, for this city does not have anything to offer that we hadn’t already seen better versions of in other cities on our journey. Mind you, we did not try to use their great beach, so maybe it’s a place more suited for a bathing holiday than an event holiday.
But all was not lost for our visit. Later that evening we found a charming restaurant, where we had some of the trips best tapas: beautiful croquettes and small fried squids. After that we continued in high spirit and found an excellent Pub called Cova Celtica, where we had the journeys first Guinness. The place also offered a homemade liqueur called “coffee”, which tasted like Kahlua. Plus they made a wonderful G&T with raspberries an a local Gin called Nordes. So although the city had disappointed us at first, we ended up with some more great memories of the culinary kind.
On our last night in Santiago de Compostela we visited two of the town’s best wine-bars – O Filandon and O Beiro – to sample a couple of whites and reds, and buy some bottles to take with us home. At O Filandon the walls were covered with notes written by pilgrims, students and other travellers, which you could examine while you drank some of their excellent wines … always served with some great free tapas! In O Beiro they had a large selection of wines and some great dishes to go along with the tasting. We had a lovely talk with our waiter, who we taught to say “thank you” in Danish, which is “tak”. He said it sounded like when you tap your finger on wood, which isn’t far from the truth.
Next day we drove along the cost of Costa de Morte and made a pit-stop in Camariñas, where we ate fresh Sardines, that had been cooked to perfection on an outdoor grill by a sweet old lady wearing a gradma apron over a white chef’s uniform. Before driving on toward our next destination, we took a little detour to the lighthouse at Cabo Vilán, which is a beautiful spot with seagulls playing in the wind and a great view over one of the most dangerous parts of the coast. Here many a ship has met its end, including the English torpedo cruiser HMS Serpent, which sank in 1890 and took 173 men with it into the deep.
We enjoyed the atmosphere of celebration and relaxation that filled the streets of this odd and charming city of Santiago de Compostela. The Hostal dos Reis Católicos, which was originally build as hospital and housing for the tired pilgrims, who had walked the Camino, now — tellingly — had become the most expensive Parador hotel in town. We stayed in more humble accommodations on Porta da Peña close to all the lovely bars, cafés and restaurants, where we reveled in the splendid food like octopus cooked in the Galician style and scallops served in shells. One night after dinner we stumbled upon a fantastic heavy metal bar, where we drank whisky with Red Bull and looked at the imaginative decor … until the place was closed down by the police. Next day we stayed in bed almost all day watching “Yes, Minister” and other BBC-programs on the iPad, until we had to crawl out to see the rest of the beautiful city — including the wonderful cabinet of curiosities in the monestary San Martiño Pinario, which inter alia contained a collection of hummingbirds and a stuffed sloth.
Visited the castle ruins in Castro Caldelas. I tasted the local soup – Caldo – for the first time, which contains cabbage, potatoes and beans. It was a lovely place, perfect for a short stop … but maybe stay away from the flan next time!
Then we travelled to Pontevedra, a city that seems to be ruled by seagulls (they were everywhere and a bit scary … thinking Hitchcock). It had a myriad of places serving mountwatering free tapas’, and we also tasted some very beautiful wines.
Brandy-tasting in the small mountain town Villafranca del Bierzo in Northern Spain. A few American pilgrims with swollen feet were taking a rest in the town, but other than that it was a very quiet place … with a very very fine collection of brandy ;)