There is a saying by that great philosopher Bob Marley – “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” We got wet. For days.
Shrove Tuesday is a public holiday in Spain so we sat still in the wind and rain taking advantage of a short break in the weather to go for a walk along the beach boardwalk while the Atlantic gave the shore a good pounding. The Vila Chá village ‘harbour’ turned out to be tiny, a steep beach with a few small fishing boats pulled up and a lot of creels and floats. Fishing here is clearly traditional and small scale, the boats pushed out daily (except Sundays and holidays) .
Overnight the sound of rain on the roof, made louder by drips from the branches above, was insistent and did not allow for much sleep – better ear-plugs are a must. We set off in the wet stuff towards Galicia, the wild Atlantic coast, looking forward to good seafood and intending to explore for a few days. However a stop at a Burger King for lunch and free internet access changed our minds. The weather forecast made dismal reading for Northern Portugal and Western Spain – heavy rain through to the following week.
We decided instead to head East where the weather forecast was much drier. Burgos and San Sebastian now in our sights we re-set the sat-nav and headed out of Portugal, Danny driving on through rain and fog until tiredness kicked in and we parked up at an aire on the riverside at Barbantes, a quiet spot with a nice view. And just after dinner the gas ran out.
Luckily the night wasn’t as cold as we’d feared although next morning we did have a not-quite cold fridge and no hot water for a shower. We headed off with the cab heater blowing hard to warm us through, as 3 sets of sculls glided past on the river, mist rising around them.
A detour at Benavente to fill up with LPG – a town we are sure has redeeming features although none were obvious to us – then following the Ruta de Platas across the Castilian plains. It was pretty much as flat and boring as it sounded, the tedium only interrupted by yet another phone call for Danny by someone wanting to sell him life insurance!
It was dry when we got to Burgos but the grass pitches were suspiciously boggy. The first thing Danny did was go for a shower which he found too late to be cold, really not his day. But we did get the wi-fi working, and found the forecast had changed – now wet in Burgos and dry in Galicia.
Woke to the now familiar patter of rain on the roof, checked the forecast again and opted for a lazy day. Next day, it did dry up late morning encouraging us to catch the bus into Burgos. Map in hand, we navigated towards Morito’s, a great value restaurant where we were just in time to grab one of the last 2 tables – as it was Saturday the place was packed. With the help of an English menu we feasted on a tapas of chorizo, fries and pimento; a plate of Serrano ham and large plate of beautiful lean Iberico pork, thick slices that were so tender we wondered how they had been cooked, accompanied by potatoes, apple sauce, mushrooms & pimentos. We were too full for dessert really but Danny spotted one called “Fried Cream” and felt he had to find out what it was. It was like slices of thick, set custard, sliced and fried. We took a photo but it looks far more unappealing than it tastes so we left it out.
Then on to the cathedral which Danny was only persuaded to visit because of it’s description in the guidebook as “one of the most extraordinary acievements of gothic art”. It is on the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage route from Cape Finisterre to Santiago de Compostela which undoubtedly accounted for the number of priests and novices wandering round the place like tourists. There is some wonderful stonework, including a couple of beautiful eight-pointed star ceiling-lights and some excellent woodwork, and set in the floor of the main nave is a simple slab of pink marble which is the tomb of EL CID and his wife – much revered by the Spanish and well known to everyone old enough to have seen the 1961 Charlton Heston movie. But for us the intricate gilded opulence of a lot of the decoration was a bit too much. It was also freezing! Danny has ruled out church visits for some considerable time.
After that we headed across the river to the very modern Museum of Anthropology. The oldest human remains in western Europe have been found in Spain, some near here in the Sierra del Atapuerca dating back 800,000-1.3million years. The museum took us on an informative journey through the Atapuerca finds; the stages of evolution across the world; Darwin’s Theory of Evolution; and the evolution of the brain. Well worth checking out. At least we now know which of the 3 below is the most evolved…….
There was a frost overnight which made the ground nice and firm for moving off and the sun was shining! We’d almost forgotten what it was like. Unfortunately the weather forecast accurately indicated that this would not be the case where we were heading, San Sebastian, our intended last-stop before the ferry home. The forecast was depressingly accurate.
We entered Basque country, went into a tunnel and came out the other side in a different world. We were in a cloud, and light rain and mist became our companions for the rest of the journey. We had left the Castilian plains benhind and the mountains were covered in dark conifers tipped with the now familiar white gauzy nests of the pine processionary moth. The buildings had changed too – in the valleys built-up areas of tall, unattractive apartment blocks reminiscent of thse we have seen in the Alps, and the farms and buldings in the more rural areas were also very alpine in their look. All very different to anthing we had seen before in Spain.
At our campsite outside San Sebastian was up inside a cloud and the girl on the desk advised us with a straight face that it was very, very wet. Thanks for that. Forecast says it stops raining on Thursday when we catch the boat. Hmmm. But Galicia and 95% of the rest of Spain is dry, so that’s alright!! We leave you with a quote from another famous philosopher :
“The nicest thing about rain is that it always stops. Eventually.” Eeyore