The Picos de Europa are a stunning range among the Cantabrian Mountains, located in northern Spain. Last week, Ben and I attacked them from both the northwest and south, hiking a couple of its magnificent trails.
Located 7 miles (12km) uphill from where we were based in Covadonga, the Ruta de Lagos is a 3.5 mile trail that loops around a couple glacial lakes, Lake Enol and Lake Ercina.
We found that while the general direction of the route was well-marked, there was no strict path to adhere to, which allowed for a little adventurous improvisation from time to time.
After our stay in Covadonga, we drove south through the Parque Natural de Ponga, on a winding road that threaded through a few lovely mountain villages.
Our exploration of the Picos de Europa culminated in the famous Ruta del Cares, where we hiked 12.4 miles (20km) through a spectacular gorge, making a few animal friends along the way.
Ben and I are four days into our three-week wandering of Spain (and eventually, parts of Portugal). Every day, I am bowled over by the beauty of this country, as well as the generous warmth of the people we’ve encountered along the way.
We left our house in France on Monday and arrived a mere two hours later in the Basque seaside town of San Sebastián (Donostia, in Basque) – one of the many benefits of living near the southwest border. San Sebastián is exquisite. Among many things, it is known for its delectable Basque pintxos, which can be found on the counters of almost every bar throughout the city. These bite-sized creations typically cost between 1€ and 3€ a piece and are truly some of the most delicious food we’ve ever eaten.
We spent two blissful days walking around the city and hiking nearby hills, our explorations punctuated every few hours with a pintxos break.
San Sebastian Aquarium
The casual tourist strikes a pose
San Sebastián from Mount Urgull
After riding a 100 year old funicular to the top of Mount Igeldo
Street view of the old town
Sea urchin pintxo
On Wednesday, we drove along the stunning coast of northern Spain and stopped for the night in Santillana del Mar, a picturesque medieval town in the Cantabria region.
The 12th century cloister at the center of town housed an amazing animatronic miniature of the Passion of Jesus.
Currently, I write from our rural guesthouse in Covadonga, a minuscule Asturian mountain village in the Picos de Europa.
At the top of the mount above our lodgings, one cannot help but notice the Basilica of Santa Maria la Real perched among the trees and tolling the knell of parting day every 15 minutes.
When we hiked up to the cathedral earlier this afternoon, we discovered a chapel built into a mountainside cave where, it is said, the Virgin Mary appeared in 722 A.D., foretelling the Christian Reconquista of Spain.
Covadonga is the most beautiful place, and I don’t want to leave.