April 2019
  • Day22


    April 25, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 32 °F

    We are back home after 4,198km (2,609 miles), which feels very odd after such a long phase of moving around. At long last (drum roll) here are the BESTS of the trip:

    1. Best town: Pontevedra. Classy old town with great food and a memorable hotel on a charming plaza.

    2. Best restaurant. Loaira Xantar in Pontevedra. Absolutely amazing rationes under an umbrella on one of the many plazas reinforced Pontevedra's sophistication. Rumor was they had a Michelin star, if not they deserved one.

    3. Best day. It's unanimous, a beautiful hike in the Picos de Europa was the winner. In general, we have concluded from this trip, as others before, that nothing beats immersion in natural beauty. And the circuit to the base of the Picos from Mogrovejo, topped off by a fine lunch in this ancient hill town, was perfection. Second place goes to a great picnic amidst the Iron Age ruins outside Guimarães in Portugal.

    4. Best Museum. Casa Lis in Salamanca. A wonderful and eclectic collection of art noveau and art deco artworks.

    5. Best hotel. The Palacio de San Estaban in Salamanca. Who would have thought an old convent could be so charming? Thanks to Robert for the tip!

    6. Best surprise. The city of A Coruña. The extraordinary natural position of the city, which is like a flower in the ocean, makes it a wonderful walk. And not a bad place to watch Barca beat the Brits. We are going back!

    All things considered, we are especially pleased to finally know and understand so much more of the Iberian Peninsula. Which is, of course, a large piece of Nivaria.
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  • Day21

    Zamora to Alcantara

    April 24, 2019 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 55 °F

    Today we spent our last full day in Alcantara. The town is famous for its first century Roman bridge, reportedly one of the greatest in the Roman Empire. Since we drove across it, we can confirm that it was made to last! If you zoom in on the marble over the doorway of the chapel you can see Trajan Caesar Aug carved into it as if it were yesterday. Standing on the other side of the river one can make out the outlines of a once impressive stone city with all of its terraces, fields, walls, and fortifications, which has now shrunk to a small agricultural center that is down on its luck and little visited.

    We are staying in a restored convent where we also had lunch. We were lucky to run into an intelligent English-speaking guide who led us through a palace-church used by one of the famous medieval military orders. The spiral is the staircase in its tower. Learned a lot about the Crusades against the Moors. Always nice to get off the tourist trail and receive personal tours like this! Stay tuned for our wrap-up tomorrow, including the all-important trip highs and lows...
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  • Day20

    Heading home- Santander to Zamora

    April 23, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 45 °F

    Our first stop-over on our 3-day journey home is Zamora. Lunch was an epic food-fail as today is a local holiday and restaurants that were open had been booked and filled by the time we rolled in at 3pm.

    I jinxed us by commenting on our weather luck yesterday. Fifteen minutes after we left our room to explore the old town, a dramatic storm approached and the skies opened! It is much colder here than the northern coast so it wasn’t a surprise to see hail!
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  • Day20

    Santander Day 2

    April 23, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    We have been lucky with the weather here in Santander where average rainfall in April is ~5 inches. Today involved ten miles of walking along the beautiful paths that surround this coastal city and viewing architecture.

    The Magdalena peninsula was particularly stunning - we stumbled onto a seal show (but failed to find the penguins!) The sunset boat tour out to the headlands was the highlight of the day!
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  • Day18

    What is art? Altamira Museum & Santander

    April 21, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

    Woke early to drive to the cave of Altamira (museum and reproduction cave). Learned more about prehistoric cave art which we both find particularly fascinating, especially after visiting South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology (Ötzi - the Iceman) in Bolzano back in 2017. This was our ‘high’ for the day.

    The LP writer in the current guide to Spain failed us with a sugar-coated description of what is actually a tourist trap in the form of the historic village of Santillana del Mar, Cantabria. (Sturbridge Village anyone?) All of Cantabria was there today- we bolted after 15 minutes and headed to Santander for Easter lunch at the highly recommended Cañadío - delicious!

    We were deeply disappointed by Cento Botín and what the museum curators currently deem as ‘art’. We have vowed that this is our LAST dose of *bad* modern art!
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  • Day16

    Picos de Europa - Potes

    April 19, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 64 °F

    Today we wandered around Oviedo for the last time before hitting the road for the famous Picos de Europa. These mountains are often compared to the Alps and in places it seems like a fair comparison. At first we tried to reach Covadonga and two famous lakes above it only to be stymied by thousands of people attending some sort of religious festival there. After passing the fourth chock-full parking lot ferrying people by the bus-load up the mountain we opted to head for our hotel. That turned out to be a great decision as we embarked upon a beautiful 90min drive through the heart of the Picos.

    By exploiting an error on booking.com we had managed to get a reservation near Potes, a prime spot, and our room was upgraded to a suite upon arrival as they were out of standard rooms :). As I write this we are off to dinner having walked a bit of Potes and having a drink by the river. The sun is out and will be all day tomorrow for a great hike. TBD!
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  • Day15


    April 18, 2019 in Spain ⋅ 🌫 59 °F

    Today we wandered the historic district and soaked up the amazing architecture - the richest we’ve experienced on this trip so far! The highlight of our “wander” was the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias.

    This spotlessly clean, green city boasts statues on every corner and endless walking streets featuring cider-pouring baristas. Apparently, there's an art to it —according to tradition, your body must be perfectly straight but not tense, your pouring arm must be raised as high as possible, and your eyes must never leave the glass! We’ve also heard the cider has special medicinal properties...
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  • Day14

    Coastal Villages - Oviedo

    April 17, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 66 °F

    After a morning walk around the Tower of Hercules (the oldest Roman lighthouse still in use today) we set off to visit the coastal villages of Ribadeo and Cudillero on our way to Oviedo.

    We definitely want to return to A Coruña and stay longer. This city was a wonderful surprise.Read more

  • Day13

    Galician Coastline - A Coruña

    April 16, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 59 °F

    We got an early start (9:30am) and headed up the coast - A Coruña was our final destination (to a room with a view and a nearby sports bar to cheer Barca in the quarter finals!) This is one of the most beautiful drives in Spain. It felt a lot like the rugged coast of Maine!

    Amazing stop for lunch in the seaside town of Muros (I took one bite of the pulpo in Paul’s salad - my third and final attempt ... I’m NOT convinced!)

    Lots of fun watching Barca whomp Man United in the Sports Cafe and walking around the old town at night! Plaza Maria Pita definitely rivals Playa Mayor in Salamanca.
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