Mountain Climbs and Seaside Towns

July 5th (Thursday)

Done with Bilbao, Kitty and I packed up and left early morning to head out of the city.  We were headed to the Picos de Europa (“Peaks of Europe”), a range of mountains in northern Spain, hoping to do a bit of hiking!  They were a little over two hours away, but we had trouble finding somewhere to park where we would have access to the many paths and trails throughout the mountains.  We ended up following a narrow, winding road up the ridge a bit, until we found the tiny village of San Esteban (San Esteban de Cuñaba, as we later found out — Spain apparently has a lot of San Esteban’s!).  Parking our car, we had a bit of a lunch before starting the climb along a marked trail.

Photo of mist-shrouded mountains
Mountains of Picos de Europa surrounding San Esteban

The hike was trying at first, as we made our way up the steep hills and through the brush.  We made sure to douse ourselves in bug spray this time, but the day had warmed a lot more than we had expected.  Wasn’t too bad under the cover of the trees, but these quickly gave way as we ascended and we found ourselves stopping often for a breather and some water.  The views were amazing however!  We got to see more and more of the valley as we progressed, and the peaks gradually grew closer.  Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that this trail was not often used, and though we pressed on for as far as we could, after about an hour we had to call it — the trail had become so overgrown that continuing on would have been too treacherous.  We did somewhat count on only going partway though, as the information post estimated the hike at approximately four hours, and we would have needed the full day to do the full trail and back!

Photo of a valley surrounded by mountains, with a small village nestled within
One of the furthest points we made it to. You can see San Esteban below!

After turning back, we set back out on the road and headed on to Gijon (pronounced like “hi-hon”, with a bit of phlem on the second “h”).  It only took us an hour or so, plus a little bit of time to find parking near the Airbnb that we were staying in.  Once we were settled, we went out an explored the city.  The city was lively without being too crowded, and the beach looked like it would have been a good stop on a sunny day.  It was cloudy and somewhat cool though, so we opted to just walk along the shore and enjoy the sights.  We happened to see a ferris wheel as we were walking, so we made our way over which turned out to be quite the distance!  It looked like there was a small funfair set up, but it didn’t appear to be open as nothing was running and they weren’t letting anyone in.  Slightly disappointed, we stopped for tea at a nearby cafe before returning to our accommodations for the night.

Photo of Kitty and Reuben posed with the sign spelling out Gijon
Doing the tourist thing 😉

July 6th (Friday)

We started the day with a light brunch, which ended up being quite cheap — €5 for a tea and sandwich each!  After eating, we headed into the city centre to wander for a time, and happened across an outdoor equipment shop.  We stopped for a look, and were quite happy when we found a backpack that seemed appropriate for Kitty.  Her current bag had seen better days, and was a little too small to fit everything that we were hoping to bring overseas when we leave the car behind.  The new bag was only a slight upgrade in terms of space, but sat better and relieved a lot of the stress on her back by sitting more on her hips.  We didn’t want to be carrying it around with us the entire day, however, so we asked if the shop could hold onto it until we returned later in the day, which they were happy to do.  Win!

Photo of a fountain decorated with flowers
Beautiful fountain by the harbour.

After browsing some of the other shops, we stopped for hot chocolate (again, getting the same rich liquid we enjoyed in Bilbao), and ordered profiteroles to go with it.  Imagine our surprise when we received not only the ordered items, but a plate of crisps and two mini dishes of fish and chips!  All apparently “on the house” as our waitress explained, and they didn’t charge us for the profiteroles, either (not entirely sure why — best we could figure is that something had gone wrong with them, but we certainly couldn’t tell)!  We left a generous tip, and continued our exploration.

Photo of a cafe table, showing multiple drinks and a handful of dishes of food
Hot chocolates, cold drinks, and a *lot* of bonuses!

Apparently Gijon has a very happening punk music scene which was unfortunately lost on us, but the city still had a very nice feel to it.  Still tired from our hike the day before however, we went back to the outdoor equipment shop to pick up Kitty’s new pack around mid-afternoon, then returned to our Airbnb for a siesta.  After a simple dinner of sandwiches, we sat and watched movies for the evening before climbing into bed for the night.

Photo of the side of a building covered in a graffiti mural
A number of places around the city hosted amazing artwork.

That’s where I’ll leave it for this update, but there’s plenty of photos to peruse below.  As always, there’s a subscribe button in the sidebar if you want to be notified of new posts, or you can follow my Twitter for those and other shenanigans from me!  See you again soon!

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