There was no nonsense about KLM. No sooner were all the passengers on board in Birmingham, we were off, no hanging around queueing for a slot on the runway, no hesitation, just go for it. The flight to Amsterdam was forty eight minutes with a further twenty minutes of speedy taxiing to our birth in the spider that is Sciphol. There is plenty going on there and the walk from one section to another was good training for the walking we were going to be doing in the Picos de Europa during the rest of the week.
The second flight of one hour fifty minutes was over a cloud laden Belgium and France. In fact, we did not see land until we dropped through the cloud on our approach to Bilbao.
The passage through Bilbao airport couldn’t have been easier, well it could if another passenger hadn’t mistakenly taken Katrina’s case in preference for her own exactly the same. After a few minutes a very worried passenger came running back into the airport with Katrina’s case. Obviously she was a drug mule and was concerned that she had lost her cache. There was no security, no passport control, we might as well have been to the supermarket.
Outside we were met by Mike and Pieter, boarded our vehicles for the two and a half hour journey to Aliezo, just outside Potes in the eastern Picos de Europa.
The shop that sells everything
The journey was broken by visiting a small establishment in the village of Panes, just prior to entering the Gorge De La Hermida. This was an amazing Aladdin’s cave where you can buy walking sticks, bars of chocolate, fresh vegetables, toys, wicker baskets of all shapes and sizes and eighteen San Miguel beers. A truly wonderful place and something that is missing in virtually all UK communities today. The shop at the Stiperstones Inn in Shropshire is the only example I can think of back home that is similar.
Fortified with our beer, we wove our way through the narrow gorge as Mike deftly steered us round the tight bends, occasionally using the horn to remind oncoming vehicles that they should be on their side of the road.
Romeo and Juliet? No Mike & Pieter in the courtyard to our accommodation
We soon reached the village of Aliezo and our charming accommodation, a five hundred year old traditional farm house with vines growing up the ancient walls, with uneven floors and nooks and crannies everywhere. If I don’t bang my head on a beam during our week here, it will be a miracle. The rooms are beautifully rustic, even having atmospheric spider webs across the ceiling beams. There wasn’t a surface not covered with the belongings of our hosts, Mike and Lisa Stuart and their family.
After an evening of cold beers and red wine poured from a clay pitcher, we squeezed into the dining room for a lovely meal, soup, gammon steaks, jacket potatoes and red cabbage. We were ready for this but the fact that it was all perfectly cooked made it even better. The mains were followed by the largest slices of melon I have ever seen.
With the shutters pulled across, curtains drawn, our room was pitch black and we slept really well, prepared for walking the next morning.
Although the next morning dawned bright and sunny, it was difficult to come to terms with how late it was. It was almost eight o’clock when the sun appeared, forcing the darkness to dissipate. It was only an hour later than in the UK but it seemed much later. With the shutters closed and the room in total darkness, night could have gone on much longer. We were not having early starts here. Breakfast at nine and be ready for the off at ten.
At the allotted time we piled into the two vehicles with dogs, Tilley and Sue, and drove the short distance to the village of San Pedro in the Bedoya Valley. Leaving the village behind we climbed steadily through beech and oak forests. Views were restricted because of the trees but when we eventually climbed above them on to a beautiful alpine meadow on the flanks of Pena Ventosa, a stunning vista opened out before us of the eastern massif of the Picos. The towering cliffs disappeared into clinging cloud but occasionally peaks appeared through a brief window of opportunity. Sitting there, admiring the view, listening to the jingle of cow bells as their owners grazed, and watching vultures circling overhead made it magical. In amongst the sun dried grass autumn crocus flowered in clusters, adding colour to our carpet.
A taste of views to come
Climbing further, we eventually reached a knoll overlooking the Bedoya Valley with far reaching views beyond. The cloud around the summits was beginning to clear, giving us even more stunning views. On this grassy knoll we settled for lunch, a picnic of bread, cheese, ham and tomatoes. Sitting for long enough we were able to see more; butterflies visiting flowers and bushes, making the most of the warm autumn sunshine, chuffs flying in flocks constantly chatting to each other while vultures continued to scour the cliffs for any fallen prey. As we sat there, the cloud descended gently on the upper reaches of Pena Ventosa.
After lunch we climbed a little more, to a hut. A group of Spanish families we picnicking there, having stayed there overnight, all sleeping on the long bench bed down one side of the hut. At the far end a fire still held some warmth from the night before.
Safe among the Yew trees
Moving on, we climbed up a wide track through trees and into the mist. We were going up to the ‘Cathedral’. I was not sure what to expect. Were we going to an area of towering rocks? Not at all. We were going to a group of ancient yew trees. The history surrounding these trees is a little blurred. It was either a religious site used when those practicing were banished and they were forced to engage in their beliefs secretly. Alternatively, and a more probable answer, is that it is a pagan site where, again, those worshipping were banished. The yew trees surrounding the site would fend off any evil spirits. Whatever the history, it was spookily eerie with the mist swirling around our heads.
Nearby, was the remains of an old mine with a tunnel disappearing into the rock before dropping steeply to a bottomless pool of clear water.
A leafy descent
Returning to the hut, we rested briefly, before descending steeply through the trees to the village. Happy children’s voices rang out through the trees (they were the children of the families we had seen at the hut earlier) as they were clearly enjoying the freedom of this beautiful countryside.
On our way back to Casa Gustavo we stopped off in the village of Tamo and visited a small bar. Rehydrating beers all round and plates of free olives was a great way to end our first full day in the Picos de Europa. It had been a good walk but we also knew, having seen the views we had seen on this day, that there were going to be even better ones in the coming days.
The evening was spent on the small balcony (I’m sure we exceeded the recommended weight limit) drinking immeasurable amounts of red wine poured from a large earthenware pitcher into tumbler glasses. By the time dinner was ready at 9.00pm most of us were well lubricated, if not altogether rehydrated. Man-size portions of lasagne filled the hole created by exercise and the lateness of the meal.
The following morning dawn arrived late again but was sunny and clear. By the time we get used to it not getting light until eight, we will be on our way home.
Starting at ten we drove through Potes, over the Puerto De San Glorio Pass to pick up a small track that came to a dead end a few metres below a statue of a polar bear. This bear will feature later, so if you want to find out why, continue reading.
We now started walking up a beautiful ridge with the occasional steep, rocky outcrop, which we tended to traverse rather than climb over. En route we came across a heard of very handsome cows. They were totally unconcerned by our presence, were immaculately clean, unlike many British herds, and were particularly photogenic, especially if the light was from behind, giving an aura to their ears as the light passes through the hair on them.
It was while admiring and photographing them that I was suddenly made aware of a danger. Bounding up to me, barking loudly in warning, was a huge dark coated Mastiff. I found it intimidating rather than frightening but it certainly distracted my attention away from the cows, which, after all, is exactly what it is supposed to do. Farmers take their livestock, cattle, sheep and goats out onto the open hillsides and leave a dog or two to keep an eye on them rather than a cow man or shepherd. The farmers will pay them a visit once a week to check on their stock and to feed the dogs. There were several herds on these hills, each with their own guard dogs.
Whichever direction we looked the view was stunning
We were gradually gaining height and the final steep climb to the summit of Coriscao was our last hurdle. This was the steepest section of the climb but at least the ground was grassy and smooth with just a small rocky area at the top. Being on the ridge exposed us to a freshening breeze, but it was beautiful to be high with such clear views of the surrounding mountains. Coriscao, at 2234m, is the highest point in the immediate vicinity. The view to the north looked across to slightly higher, but much more serious peaks because of the rocky terrain and numerous sheer cliffs. It was a place you could sit, absorb and admire for a long time. In fact, we made the most of this lofty outlook by taking lunch just below the summit, out of the wind.
Lunch. The Orio magnet is centre picture
The wind was not really a problem for us but it became a problem for Richard. Maybe he was sitting in the wrong place? Maybe Mike’s and my throwing skills were in question? Maybe, and I like to think this is the truth, Richard is an Orio magnet. On two occasions, Mike threw a packet at Sally, sitting some distance from Richard, but on both occasions the Orios hit Richard on the head. Then I had a go. I carefully aimed the packet at Sally but as the Orios arched towards Sally, they were caught by the wind, changed course and hit Richard on the head! It was a perfect shot, but with three packets hitting Richard in quick succession, he was less appreciative and the third packet came back so fast the wind did not have time to catch it.
Descending to a rocky outcrop called the Molar. It certainly looked like a seriously decaying tooth. From there we traversed round a high valley to cross the ridge we had previously climbed. While engaged in the traverse we came across another rocky outcrop with a cleft in it. Across the cleft was what looked like a washing line with various items hanging from it. Is this some Shepherd’s washing? As we neared it we saw that these items had been there for some time as the wind had frayed the ends. It was not a washing line but a cattle scarer, frightening them so that they did not enter the cleft in the rock, find they could not turn round, and thus get stuck. Simple, but very clever.
Mastiff guard dog
Also on this traverse we came across a large herd of glossy coated goats. They really we’re looking immaculate, as if they were ready for some prestigious show. They had four mastiffs looking after them and we learned that to stave off hunger the dogs suckle the goats. Amazing!
I now want to turn my attention to something else that was truly amazing. When we returned to the vehicles parked not far from the aforementioned polar bear, Frazer, Nigel and Mike went to have a look at it. I was not fussed as it seemed so out of place. After a while I looked up and saw that Fraser appeared to have climbed on to the pedestal and seemed to be trying to climb upon the back of the bear. He failed, hence it looked as if he was trying something else. This, from a distance, looked like shocking behaviour, behaviour not befitting a man of his standing. Although there are photos of the incident I feel it is inappropriate to show them here. What made it worse was the fact that walking by at the same time was a mother and child. No wonder the English have a reputation abroad! Those who saw it were shocked beyond belief, and I, for one, was determined to make an example of Fraser after dinner when we discussed the events of the day.
That night, Fraser was awarded the “Wally” award, despite the fact that we had nothing to give him. We hoped the shame would be sufficient punishment. Sadly, this story was going to run for several days to come.
Day three required an earlier start because we wanted to take the cable car from Fuente De up to El Cable before the coaches arrived. We wanted to get ahead of any potential crowds, although, being so late in the season, we would not have been held up for too long. That said, we did have a time constraint as we had to be back in time to catch the last cable car down.
The chamois looks back as it nears the top of the ridge
The terrain here was very different. It was more like a quarry, with very little grass. As we walked up the valley with cliffs all around us, we spotted a chamois walking along the scree at the foot of a cliff. Suddenly, it leapt up onto the cliff face, which from our position looked vertical, and ever so nimbly scrambled its way to the top. It must have been 300m, at least, and it took it no more than thirty seconds to cover the distance. I must confess to being open jawed.
As we progressed up the valley the path became more rugged and, by now, there was absolutely no vegetation. The path began to steepen as it approached the buttresses that made up the peak, Horcados Rojos. It looked daunting but we were not going up that way, we were going to climb around the back of it to climb to the summit by a more achievable route. We were now level with small patches of snow, a remnant of last winter and a reminder of what was to come in just a few weeks.
Lunching just before the col, we were joined by chuffs who were not afraid of us as they hopped among us, hoping for a morsel or two. Needless to say, we made sure their bravery and persistence did not go unrewarded.
Katrina and Mike begin their descent from from the summit
From the col the view over the other side, into a huge bowl, that looked as if it should have a lake in it, surrounded on virtually all sides by steep, impenetrable cliffs to all but those with the skill to climb them, was fantastic, Here we were given a choice, either to begin the descent or continue an extra 250m to the 2510m summit of Horcados Rojos. It was an easy decision to make to climb to the summit. It was quite steep, but would prove to be more demanding on the descent. The last few metres were a little exposed but the views were stunning and well worth the effort of the extra climb.
Having spent a few minutes on the summit, soaking up the view, we began the descent. It seemed much further on the way down.
A vulture circles the cliffs on which its unseen chicks sit
Towards the end of the walk, some of us took a small detour to another col to admire some more towering cliffs. Looking at them there was something on them that was not rock, and, on closer inspection through my binoculars, I could see two fluffy vulture chicks standing on the edge of their precipitous nest. Their parents were souring around the summit looking for tea. This short diversion took us over an interesting limestone pavement before our final descent to the cafe and cable car station.
Having been lucky enough to see the vulture chicks, I was moved to buy a stuffed toy vulture, which would act as the “Wally” award from now on. As Fraser had been given the award for his bear antics, I gave it to him while we enjoyed a beer in the sunshine on the terrace before taking the cable car.
It had been a really good day’s walking with stunning rewards from start to finish.
In the evening, as I was talking to the group, Nigel interrupted me to tell me that he had received an email from the mother of the traumatised child following Fraser’s inappropriate behaviour. He asked permission to read it out. Permission granted he read the following:
“Dear Sir Nigel Godbolt,
It was so wonderful of you yesterday to manage mine and little Fernandinho’s trauma at the incident at the bear statue. You were so kind to take the time to console me and my daughter after we had witnessed the truly awful sight of that horrible and sacrilegious act of …. on our fine nation’s national and almost religious symbol of the bear by that crude Australian (who I understand is called Fraser and who is married to a wonderful lady who, bless her, has to suffer his boisterous and British behaviour).
Your generous and kind words have helped us to start the long and slow journey of recovery required to erase such a torrid scene from our memories. Little Fernandinho eventually stopped crying at 2am this morning and whilst she will never be strong enough to read Goldilocks and the Three Bears ever again, I do think she has a chance for a fairly normal life from now on – but that is only down to you being such a wonderful human being and no thanks to that horrible man, Fraser. You explained to me that you had a nomination for ‘Dick of the Day’. However, I regret to say that what I saw of his pathetic manhood attempting to hump the bear, he stands no chance. I will clearly have to re-educate my poor daughter on what to expect later in life from a real man.
One again, thank you for being a wonderful human being etc. etc. etc.
Yours etc. etc. etc.”
Having had three beautiful days with some glorious autumnal sunshine it was a little disappointing to wake up to cloudy skies on our fourth day.
With two consecutive challenging days behind us, we chose an easier walk for our fourth day. We were still going to be climbing about 700m but the overall length of the walk was less demanding.
Looking into the Desfiladero De La Hermida Gorge
Driving into the Desfiladero De La Hermida Gorge we found somewhere suitable for parking the minibuses so that we could climb up a narrow side gorge through forest of oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees. Some of these trees were pretty ancient. This first section followed the Rio Navedo. Despite the overcast conditions it was quite hot and sultry climbing up through the forest. The lack of wind made it more so. The climb was quite long, and steep in places but it led to a summit with two significant constructions on it. The first, and by a long way the oldest, was the remains of a fortress like structure with just a few sections of one wall still apparent. The second was a mobile phone mast giving us excellent reception had we needed to use our phones.
This was a viewpoint overlooking the Desfiladero De La Hermida Gorge with the road snaking through its bottom. Below us were numerous vultures circling around the cliffs in search of food, gradually rising on thermals so that they soured above us. They then followed the cliffs for some distance before descending to the valley floor again, sweeping along it to just below us before, again, picking up the thermals and following the same routine again.
Nigel who had been looking after the vulture award foolishly took his eye off it and it somehow escaped from his rucksack. Upon closer inspection of the creature, it seemed to have developed a new, Mohican style haircut! I wonder how? Anyway, needless to say, Nigel would have to explain his carelessness later in the day.
The descending route
Descending, we passed by the village of Pineres and through Cicera, both incredibly sleepy apart from our presence disturbing any canine residents. The descent following the Rio Cicera with its own short gorge, was extremely pleasant, again largely through trees but with the imposing wall of the main gorge, with its Mick Jagger mouth-like cave opening high up on the face, always attracting our attention.
Once down, we visited some hot springs in the river at the side of the road. Inevitably, we could have gone into the spa at the hotel that had been built to capitalise on the feature, but instead, those that chose to, opted for the free dip in the river. It is incredible how, in a country not renowned for its volcanic activity, these exist. Mike told us the hot water comes out of a fissure in the limestone, but, looking at it, it comes from under the adjacent road. The area is divided into two or three small pools of varying heat, some too hot to stay in for more than a few seconds. Climb out of the pools and the water is cold. When wrinkled, we dressed awkwardly on the river bank and joined the others enjoying the, now traditional, post walk beer.
In the evening when the question of Nigel’s ability to care for a stuffed vulture was to be questioned he interrupted and diverted attention away by saying he had just received another message. This is what it said:
“My Darling – what a wonderful surprise to receive your get well gift. Thank you so much for the bag of mixed nuts and dried fruit that arrived just after market day. They are helping me to overcome and block out the memories of that awful moment of bear back riding.
Also little Florentinha said gracias for the lovely photo of the stuffed toy vulture that you so generously purchased for her. Understandably she is now in tears knowing that it was stolen from your backpack. I am so concerned for you regarding the company you are keeping and yet you say they all hail from Worcestershire?
As you have advised, I have contacted the Police regarding Fraser’s indecent exposure incident and with your generous help of providing his address details, National Insurance number, passport details and dental records (how on earth you managed to obtain those I will never know) – the police believe they will be able to apprehend him before he commits further crimes against decency and shocks yet another young, innocent child.
Finally, I personallly loved the photo of you laying virtually naked in the hot springs trying to relax and overcome the mental scars of the betrayal of your former friendship with that bounder Fraser. You looked so vulnerable – yet so strong in your baggy M&S underpants swelling under the weight of your [PAUSE] concerns.
Anyway it is getting late now and with winter coming and only my thin negligee to keep me warm I must retire to my bed alone at number 17 Bilbao Road, Potes, 3rd on the left 2 short and 1 long ring of the door bell.
I will try to write to you again tomorrow.
We were so entertained and amused by Nigel’s creativity we forgot to punish him.
Early morning mist evaporating
The following morning the sunshine returned after a misty start and we set out for the two hour drive round to the village of Cain so that we could walk through the Cares Gorge. Unfortunately, an hour into the journey, having climbed up the winding road to Puerto De San Gloria and down the other side, we discovered the road was closed. It is only open between 8pm and 8am and for an hour at 2pm. There was no way through and any other way of getting to the Gorge would have meant far too long in the vehicles.
Decision time in Potes
We returned to Potes for a coffee and to make a decision about what to do. It was obvious that some, having got themselves comfortable in Potes were happy to stay there all day. Others still wanted a walk. So, splitting up, those that wanted to walk went off with Mike while those that wanted to relax and drink copious amounts of alcohol stayed in Potes.
The minibus took us to the village of Mogrovejo, recently the venue for a remake of Heidi. We were to spend a little time in this village at the end of the walk.
The walk was simply a circuit of the hills above Mogrovejo with stunning views of the cliffs, aretes and pinnacles of the south facing slopes of the Central Picos.
A view from an abandoned ruin
Before embarking on the walk proper, we visited a nearby village, now abandoned as a result of a 2013 landslide, which did considerable damage. We entered one house, which was clearly once somebody’s pride and joy. There were some interesting quirks in the interior architecture of the house which struck me as very Gaudiesk. The only inhabitants now were bees, who’s hives were placed on a balcony on the sunny side of the house. I couldn’t understand why the house had been so abandoned. The damage was repairable, and the landslide having already occurred was unlikely to occur again in the same place.
The walk took us up tracks and through more ancient woodland. Some of the sweet chestnut trees were probably growing when the Armada set sail. Their bases were huge and really gnarled. The track led up to a most beautiful alpine meadow, where we broke for lunch. It was warm, so we took advantage of some shady trees but this just enhanced the outlook on to vivid purple autumn crocus and gradually turning trees. The sound of cowbells jingling in the distance rang out across the meadow. And above it all were the majestic crags of the Central Picos. This place was about as close to heaven as you can get.
Reluctantly we gathered our things after lunch and headed back down in a loop to Mogrovejo, where we found a little bar open and took advantage of a little liquid refreshment.
When we returned to Potes, they were all still settled where we had left them, although they did assure us they had moved between times. I was pleased they too had had a good time.
Needless to say, Nigel’s vivid imagination had been working overtime, probably with the help of a little fluid help, and he entertained us well in the evening with the continuing saga of his new lady friend and her daughter. This time the message came with a warning:
This email has been written under the influence of alcohol and any relevance to people living or dead is pure coincidence apart from John. Any offence is therefore probably intended.
“You Bastard! Whilst I will never know how he found out where I live, Bill called round just after midnight, followed by Richard for some strange reason with 3 packs of Orios and finally, a first for me when all 3 Mikes came at the same time just before dawn. I was surprised that Spanish Mike even found my house given that he couldn’t find a gorge in the morning.
On top of everything else that I gave Spanish Mike, I gave him a guide book entitled ‘How to read road closed signs in Spanish’ and another book called ‘How to pass the blame onto someone else even when it is clearly your fault.’
And I was so pleased to welcome John who told me he could afford anything as he apparently had something called a kitty in his pocket??
I don’t know what you have been telling them about me but anyway, dear dear Bill told me everything. How you, John and Fraser dump your wives on him and he has to chauffeur them around all day going from bar to boutique shop and back to bar.
And you then berate him for not delivering beer to you at lunchtime at the top of a mountain. That poor poor man.
He told me how sweet Angela will never truly know the length of a kilometre nor how steep a slight gradient truly is from the daily lies she is told by John.
How poor hot hot hot Clare is drugged every night by her own daughter who pretends to everyone that she is only administering salt rehydration tablets. I understand that Clare is now so weak that her teeth break at the merest mention of a banana.
And how the very same Catrina with a drug cabinet at her disposal still claims she gets travel sickness just so she can sit in the front of the vehicle every bloody time right next and almost on top of Pieter with the blue eyes and bleached hair, big biceps….
I do so hope that Trish is found to be innocent of the terrible whispered accusations against her that she arranged for the road to be closed just to have a day off from walking.
Bill then rather surprisingly pulled out his telescopic stick right there infront of me and showed me how he enlarged it. He then went onto showing me how to zoom into the photo you sent me yesterday of the hot spring pool. I now realise that not only were you clearly not wearing your own M&S pants as Bill pointed out the fine Nepalese embroidery of the letters J&A for ever on them, but you were accompanied by 5 other female beauties, 2 men who had the potential to cause the river to go into flood, and one other man who appeared to be drawing up a Venn diagram whilst applying pythagarus’s theory to calculate the span of the bridge.
Bill did appear to show a degree of remorse when he explained to me how he had suggested to Sally that she leave her rucksack behind with him safely in the car whilst she continued her walk and in so doing, left her vulnerable to last nights rigged vote.
Bill then went on to explain that far from you being the victim of the stolen vulture toy that you promised for my daughter, you never even purchased it in the first place! Little Fuertaventura will never be able to trust a man again and Worcestershire is now off my places to visit list for good.
I do not think I will write again, unless of course I have any more visits from your group at number 3 Bilbao Road, 2nd on the left 2 long rings and 1 short one.”
In order to get through the roadworks before they closed the road we had an early start, leaving the house at 7am. We successfully passed through the obstruction and continued until we came to a pass. Here, we took a short break to look down towards the Cares River just as the sun was beginning to hit the peaks with its golden glow.
Continuing down into the valley we stopped briefly at a spot where there was an old wolf trap. Here the wolves were funnelled between two narrowing lines of stakes until there was nowhere else for the wolves to go but into the pit. Whether it was actually used as such or whether it is an example of how it might have been done in the past is up for debate.
At the village of Cain, nestling deep in the Gorge, we had a coffee in one of the bars before embarking on the 15km walk down the gorge. There were several hostelries, so I was guessing it gets quite busy in the height of the season.
The gorge just beyond Cain is at its narrowest, the towering walls just feet apart. Tunnels have been cut in the rock to accommodate a path. Running parallel to the path for the bulk of the route is a canal constructed between 1915 and 1921 to provide the water power for a hydro-electric scheme. The path we were walking was constructed at the same time but improved after the Second World War to maintain it and to protect it from harm. For many years Spain had suffered political and military hardship and there were some who might have wanted to do harm to the facility. It was an impressive piece of civil engineering. It is also an impressive piece of natural sculpturing, created by the trickle of water running in the Cares River at the bottom. I guess it is much more lively after a period of rain.
I was surprised by the number of people walking towards us, most in a hurry as if they were taking part in a sponsored event. I realised later that most of them would have parked their vehicles at Camarmenia, the village at the northern end and would therefore have to walk the length twice. Hence the hurry. I preferred the pace we were walking as it allowed us to observe and absorb our environment, to turn round and look at the way we had come, without feeling we had to get a move on.
There are some stunning features, none more so than the ringed arch that was high above us. If you were rushing and not taking note of your surroundings it would be easy to miss. It was all stunningly beautiful and a fitting final walk of the week.
Mike and Pieter had not been able to walk with us as they had to do the long drive round to the northern end. They were there to meet us as we finished, armed with lots of good food for our picnic lunch.
Then it was back to Aliezo and Casa Gustavo for our last night and a superb paella cooked brilliantly by Lisa.
That was it. The next morning we split up, those flying had to go to Bilbao, while the drivers all had their own routes to follow.
We had a couple of hours or so to enjoy in Bilbao. The sun shone and glistened off the walls of the Guggenheim Museum. Although I did not venture inside, I am sure the outside is by far the most impressive aspect and surpasses all of the art it displays inside. I even liked the giant dog festooned with living plants in the square next to the museum. Buskers played, street artists performed, fountains danced in rhythm and locals and tourist alike were enjoying the warm sunshine and relaxed atmosphere.
All too soon we had to head for the airport and our efficient KLM flights home.
The Picos de Europa have certainly made an impression, not just on me but on all who travelled with me. The pictures I posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have spread the word and already six people have expressed a desire to join me when I next return. Can we wait?