Mikey slept like a rock – like a rock that didn’t wake to any of his 4 vibrating alarms! He was still the first up and out the door – well, except for the older lady in her underwear whom he walked in on while attempting to brush his teeth. Not sure who was more shocked, but he decided to skip the whole teeth brushing. Yeah, some sights just linger.
Having recovered from his near-sprint out of both the albergue and town, he found a truck stop cafe and had a chorizo tortilla sandwich and coffee. Oh, and he got to brush his teeth!
OK, do you know what this means? Didn’t think so – and neither did Mikey. So, we stopped into a petrol station and asked for directions. The attendant was pretty matter of fact in instructing us to ignore the sign. Still, on the way out Mikey spotted the woman from the bathroom waving madly towards him. Well, that settled it – no way was he going back towards her. Yellow arrows be damned – he would just ignore them for a while.
Israelí politician Abba Eban once defined tragedy as “the difference between what is and what could have been.”
It is most tragic that Mikey didn’t discover this place last night. I mean, it was far enough outside of town to really get rowdy!
Well, we were definitely leaving town and there wasn’t a camino marker in sight.
Apparently, though, we would not be alone. According to the signage, there would be bikers, farmers, and … the Amish?!
Well, never did see the Amish. But, this yellow line suddenly appeared on the road. It sure wasn’t a pretty stretch, but it was a relief to see the markers again.
When we weren’t walking on the side of the road, we were crossing beneath it. OK, can you imagine the guy who was just living next to a creek, minding his own business when one day: lets build a road! That had to upset the apple cart.
Well, we had some reprieve along a gravel road for a while.
But on the paved highway there were still pretty sights. This was a church of unknown name in a town that Mikey obliviously walked past.
He did stop for a rest at a cafe and got into a 30 minute conversation with a local about the Spanish economy and European politics. (Thanks BBC News and AFS – still got it!)
Random church with pretty flowers.
Just when he’d forgotten about this morning’s bathroom incident, Mikey turned around and saw her! Maybe it was more memorable for Mikey, but the kind Aussie offered, “I’ll take your picture if you take mine!” Oh, boy. Well, mom will be happy.
We got back on the gravel path and tried to put a bit of distance between us.
Well, had to stop for a quick picture of these ladies.
Mikey had no idea what Bufones de Arenillas was. Honestly, he thought it was a town and a chance to refill his water bottles. Well, as he was walking on the cliffs high above the ocean he heard what sounded like thunder, but at equal intervals. He edged over to where some people were gathered to have a look.
Suddenly, she was behind him and exclaimed, “We call that a BLOWHOLE!” Well, the tide was too low to spurt water, so we headed out at a double pace.
It didn’t last long. I mean, when you turn a corner and see this, you just have to stop and admire the view. (Yes, Mikey – this is another estuary.)
After wondering how we would cross it, the path descended steeply to a wonderfully quaint wooden bridge.
While the bridge was beautiful, this sign really made us question Spanish engineering. “Only 20 people at a time? Wait, aren’t Americans heavier than Spaniards? What about backpacks? Am I going to make it?!” Yeah, signs have a way of instilling pure terror in Mikey.
After a long climb through the woods and a suburban area, we reached a clearing and were met with a beautiful view of a beach on the outskirts of Llanes.
The trouble was that we had to walk along a golf course. This sign warns that there’s a gold course, you might get hit by balls, there’s an electric fence somewhere, and model airplanes are likely to dive-bomb you. Wow.
The funny thing about signs is they often ask more questions than they answer. For instance, if a golfer hits a pilgrim are there extra points versus hitting anyone else? Is he then required to take a mulligan or must he navigate the electric fence and play it off the pilgrim? Can said pilgrim then buy a commemorative aerial video shot by one of the drones? Well, I digress.
Llanes is a beautiful, albeit touristy, town. It does, however, mix the old world charm with modernity a little better than Comillas or Santillana.
Oh, and it has a tower! This was part of the remaining medieval fortress dating back to the 13th century.
While the harbor is picturesque today, it was always armed to the teeth and would attack anyone trying to invade this rich city.
Now it’s a little more artistic and less armed.
Well, this patiently waiting fisherman’s wife looks like she could put up quite a fight if her husband came home without anything to put in her pot!
That made Mikey hungry, so he tried some chorizo cooked in Austurian cider – amazing!
Yeah, can’t get over the wooden shoes, though. I mean, sure they wore them, but what sadistic tourist asks, “Hey honey, wouldn’t your mother love a pair of traditional wooden shoes?” Yeah, see you on Divorce Court, jerk.
Probably the home of more weddings than divorces, the Basilica of Saint Mary of Conceyu is a 13th century romanesque church in the heart of the medieval district. (Oh, did you know that no one actually got married inside churches until very recently? Commoners just got to atand at the doorway and the priest would do the deed there.)
The current altar was installed in the early 16th century. Recently restored, it is really stunning.
Surprisingly, the basilica had real candles – many churches have installed the electronic ones as a safety precaution. Since they were the real deal, Mikey lit one for a friend. Actually, it was a 50 cent donation and he only had a 1€ coin so he lit two. Hey, never hurts to double down.
We really shouldn’t have, but tonight’s dinner was an amazing splurge. (Maybe it was all about that doubling down.) It was prepared by Chef Mario Lázaro at Siete Puertas. A 3 star rated chef, he is well known in Northern Spain for fresh ingredients and simple, yet extraordinary dishes.
Dinner began with fish pâté and grilled crostini as an appetizer. There was also a basket of bread and full bottle of wine.
Next came the Surf & Turf Salad. This was a lettuce and tomato salad with shrimp, squid, mushrooms, and beef in a light vinaigrette.
The main course was a grilled salmon steak with homemade tarter sauce.
Dessert was a homemade cheesecake with local berry compote.
After that kind of dinner, Mikey had to spring for a coffee with milk.
The butcher’s bill, you ask?! Inclusive of tax and tip: 15€!! Yep, it was a menu of the day special.
You see, when Mikey spoke with that local guy earlier today about European economics, the gentlemen happened to mention that, by law, every Spanish restaurant has to offer an affordable 3 course (Menu of the Day) meal at some point during their operating hours. Most only offer it from 1-3pm during lunch. (As such, evenings can be quite expensive to eat out.)
Well, Mikey just looked for a place in the tourist district that was only open for evening dinner. By law, they would have to offer an affordable fixed price menu if requested! Perhaps it was his Spanish or mere assertiveness that did the trick, but the server obliged, brought out a separate menu, and Mikey ate the above meal for less than 1/4 of what other tourist diners paid.
Score one for the home team and ¡Buenas Noches!