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  • Writer's pictureMara Cabral

From wales to spain - the car trip II

After that unexpected start but a pretty smooth ferry crossing, we finally stepped on Spanish ground.......after 3 years we were finally back! We arrived at Bilbao pretty early in the morning. I remember we all went up to the sun deck while we were waiting to be allowed to go down to the garages to get in the car. It was about 7:30 in Spain, 6:30 in the UK. The day was just starting and we had the whole of the holidays ahead. If I was a better writer I would be able to describe just how special that mix of expectation and fresh morning air felt, but all I can think of while I am sitting here, struggling to find the right words, is that I would love to be there all over again, with all of the road trip still ahead and the promise of things still to happen.

Since we had a full day to be enjoyed and we were looking forward to some sunshine and heat, we decided to make a stop in Santander before we headed for our next destination: Llanes. We parked in Santander way further from the beach that we originally meant to, but we had a great half an hour walk along the sea promenade. We didn't see much of Santander apart from the promenade and the very first little stretch of beach, but it looked promising, with plenty of cultural events/exhibitions being announced in huge placards along the way. The view from the seaside walk is stunning, the city felt vibrant though not excessively busy.

After a long walk, a dip in the sea and a nice simple lunch of fried squid (hotdogs for the kids haha), sitting in a pleasant park by a play area, we headed towards Asturias. Because of the rocky start I noticed I totally failed to take all the photos I meant to take in both Asturias and Llanes (a little town in the Asturias region), but if you ever have the chance to visit, it is seriously stunning, between high mountains and glorious beaches. They are not the sort of ample touristic beach you would expect from other Spanish holiday places. North of Spain has a very different character and due to its unpredictable weather it's a lot less aimed to please foreigner tourists, but for that same reason, it retains its original spirit unlike most of the very popular holiday resorts. You might not always find the right weather there, even in the summer, but you will always find a breath taking landscape and food that will give your taste buds a festival of flavours. If you are into strong cheeses, especially strong blue cheese, try anything with Cabrales cheese. Or Cabrales cheese itself. It's pretty amazing, but be warned.....it is strong and smelly!!

But I digress! To Asturias we headed and agreed to meet a friend of my husband that lives in Llanes and is the main reason why we always stop in Asturias before heading down to meet our families.

We met him at the beach and the kids had an amazing time jumping in a very quiet sea and playing in the sand. Unfortunately I failed to charge my camera batteries before hand, hence only having one photo from that beach and none from our evening walk in Llanes!

The always stunning view arriving to Asturias, as seen from the car.

Our trip from Bilbao do Santander and then Llanes. Notice all the natural park areas along that coast.

A relaxed time at the beach catching up with Angel's lovely friend.

It would have been the perfect day if Ricardo, who had a bit of a runny nose on the trip, hadn't started coughing after all the fun in the sea and was just generally not looking/feeling well. Covid test was negative so we assumed it was just his usual bad chest after a cold....only issue being we had forgotten his pump (I know, I know, bad parents award!! But he's not asthmatic as such, and he usually only has these episodes during the winter season, so I guess we just didn't think!) Luckily, after a whole night coughing and feeling miserable, we managed to find a pharmacy that sold us his usual medicine. The next day was cloudy and drizzling so while Beatriz and daddy went on a walk up the mountains, I stayed in with Ricardo for a well needed rest.

The house we usually stay in is a self catering house in Portas De Vidiago. It's a beautiful traditional house (if a bit dark inside) with a big garden around. The owner is lovely and super relaxed and the kids absolutely love going there. They call it the 'yellow house' or the 'lemon tree house'. Every year we go there we pick up a few lemons directly from the tree and take them with us to make a big lemonade at some point in our journey. I always find these little things are the stuff holiday memories are made off. They are also often the stuff we often fail to photograph because of it seeming so mundane at the time...but I have realised so many times how, when we look back on photos, these are the moments that give us all the feels! The little things are never really that little are they? They are the things that give rhythm and taste to our lives. Picking up lemons, laughing at your mother when she asks for some 'nice photos' in front of the house, coming out of the shower after a day at the beach and chilling out in front of your then favourite tablet game, the smell of the beach and hair conditioning still mixed in your senses.

That evening we still managed to have dinner out in an amazing small local restaurant. I wish I had taken photos of the food as well! In any case, if you ever go that way, this is the link to the place. If you're looking for some genuine local food, this is definitely worth the visit.

On the walk back home, the kids even managed to make some furry friends. It was a cloudy summer night, not too warm but not chilly either. We had had an amazing meal and the next day we were headed to Braganca for an overnight stay. We always leave Asturias with a mix of ''I wish I could stay longer'' and excitement about what we still have ahead. On the next blog post I will take you to Braganca old town, to unexpectedly beautiful river walks in Spain and to Portugal dos Pequeninos in Coimbra, Portugal.

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