Soul searching in the North of Spain

It has been a while now since I wanted to start this blog to share my experiences in this city I love so much. Meanwhile many things happened and interest shifted. Nonetheless the ambition remains, telling the story of a thirty something living in the capital of Europe. Strangely enough, the first entry will start to tell you about my trip to Spain almost a month ago, a soul searching travel through the wild North. I needed a break and some time alone far away from everything and everyone.

Picos de Europa

Going on a trip by yourself can be quiet frightening or enlightening. It can go either way. You might feel on top of the world or incredibly low. A soul searching trip that brought my mind back in time, over the lovers of the last five years, the lost loved ones and the doors that closed. I could recommend anyone to explore the green coats of the North reminding of Ireland or Scotland filled with amazing food and people. Not the usual image most people have of Spain I’d say but not less ‘Spanish’ nonetheless. You can do it while walking along one of the pilgrim routes to Santiago, or as I did with limited time, by renting a car. Surely if you decide to take the hardcore path of so many pelgrims before you, it will give you plenty of time and occasion to think things over, cry, rationalise and maybe move on. I must confess even though it was short I briefly breathed the sense of liberation pilgrimage must bring and it gave me a taste for more. I guess travel can do this to people particularly when you are by yourself. You are much more open to anything: meeting new people, trying new things and having new amazing experiences. There is also something of absolutely gratifying, it gives you a sense of self and accomplishment: if you can travel alone what else can stop you?

I arrived at Santader on a cloudy Sunday evening, rented my car at the airport and drove off. They provided me with a larger car and it kind of freaked me out …hand break was different and the car key didn’t need to be used to ignite… confusing but fun. I drove around not finding a parking spot then I decided to just leave it in a garage and walk to the b&b I rented. I arrived thus walking up the hill to this charming house. It could have been an old fishers house for all I could tell or my imagination let it to be. I rang the bell, no answer, send a text message, no answer. ah well I’ll have a high bill I thought for a sec and I called her. Ines she was called and she rushed off to open the door and welcome me in. The interior was lovely. So colourful and cosy. The yellow painted stairs straight ahead, a small door on the right…the door led to a little living room and kitchen. Then she led me up the stairs to my little room. I carried my suitcase in and thought it just looked perfect: a small window at the end looking over a double bed. At the end of the bed stood a little chest, colourful paintings and flags hanging on the wall, the letters spelling circus. I loved it. It could be the setting for so many stories and adventures. Just getting to imagine who else stayed there, what they felt and what they experienced. But my belly was complaining so I asked Ines where to find food and went down the hill into town. The place Ines proposed me breathed Spain all over, the bartender cute, some younger guys having beers a bit down the isle, tables full of people having dinner. I ordered a beer in Spanish and a tapa or pincho. Life could not be better but my mind started to go through a range of feelings…from anxiousness of being all alone there to thoughts of past travels … but I decided to put it aside and go for a walk. A charming little town it is, maybe a bit chique, on a square the procession statues where exposed while next to it a team was rehearsing how to carry them around. Just for the scene setting, it was easter and you might know processions is a big thing in Spain during the so called Semana santa. I had an ice-cream and then I decided to go back and relax. Day two would be intense I reckoned. 

Praia de Aguas Santa

There I was on the street. Driving first aimlessly then I decided to drive up to the picos of Europa: a lovely mountain ridge just to the south of the coast. I only had time to drive a bit though them but I can recommend anyone to take a closer look and go have a walk to admire it’s white peaks and green valleys. That night I had booked, upon advise of a friend, a place in Gijon, a town on the coast. I must say even thought it was recommended to me I did not particularly like Gijon (sorry to my friend or to anyone who might feel offended 😉 but taste is a subjective thing), I found it’s center too new and dirty I could not see the charm. While I parked my car in a backstreet, I received a unexpected message from Frank, a guy I met via a dating app quiet a whole ago with whom I had a short adventure and with whom I started to have an unlikely friendship. I was pleasantly surprised, when we agreed being friends and seeing each other for lunch wonde in a while. He wrote just at the right moment, when I needed someone to show me they were thinking of me even if far away. When I met him the first time I thought he was too good to be true….this kind of guys never fall for me, good looking, sportive and smart.  And even after the short fling wanting to be my friend meant a lot to me and he might never know this 😉

That night  I had a typical Asturias dinner in a way too fashionable looking place. At least they served the cider in the traditional way: pouring the cider as they do in Asturias keeping the bottle high up and the glass quiet low. People order these bottles at each table but they would not pour in, only the waiters would. My third day took me up to the Praia de Agas Santas or Playa de Las Catedrales: the sea here eroded the rocks over centuries creating rock formations that closely resemble the arches of a cathedral. Amazing, really beautiful to walk around these constructions created by mother earth while the waves clash on these natural columns. Too bad that so many other people had the same reflex of visiting…. The sea in this rough state should be enjoyed in solitude I believe purging your soul of all feeling and resentments. I walked around for a while and amused myself by taking plenty of – what i believe to be – artistic pictures. After a while the tide made me move up to the ridge not making my walk any less impressive or relaxing. See I love the sea in all it’s forms. I find the sound of the waves one of the most soothing things that exist, it’s colour changes with all it’s moods as our deepest thoughts, if the sun shines you can feel the happiness while the dark cloudy sky resonates madness or  deep sadness. 

The wind cleared my heart and made time fly. It was thus time to move on. Santiago de Compostela was the next destination. But this will be the next chapter of this adventure where I would no longer be totally by myself…


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