Northern Spain Drive-by – Helpful Realizations

So, I took the detour that I was thinking about and at least so far it has been an excellent choice. Many cool things and new realizations have happened the past two days.

San Vicente de la Barquera

My first stop after Donostia was the town where I lost my surf virginity: San Vicente de la Barquera. I parked Naranja close to the Oyambre beach and had a look at the place. It seemed bigger than I remembered. Unfortunately there was a very strong wind and surfing would not have been much fun. I was tempted to give it a go anyway, but I think I made a good choice. Instead I unpacked my bike and rode to the town center. The seven kilometer distance itself was not bad, but the hills were…

San Vicente de la Barquera from a bridge leading to the beaches

I had my first menú del día (“dish of the day” popular for lunch) in the town. I had a Bonito steak, (bonito is a fish related to tuna). It was very tasty, but apparently and unfortunately I was too hungry to take pictures though.

On my way back I stopped at a campsite that may end up being my home during the next month or so. It’s not directly on Playa de Oyambre, but on another surfable beach between the town and the Oyambre. They didn’t give in to my haggling yet, but I’ll try to get a discount if I choose them. The price for a night wasn’t too bad, but if I end up getting a spot there for a month, I’m sure I can negotiate the price down a little.

I continued my drive after the exhausting bike tour to a close by gas station that had a shower. It was my first gas station shower, but I was surprised how clean and nice everything was. I might consider doing this again.

Salinas (Aviles)

From there I continued directly to Salinas, next to Aviles, the other surf spot I had thought about spending some time at. I parked Naranja at another municipal spot that wasn’t really the prettiest, but it was just twenty minutes from the beach and it had fresh water (my tank was getting empty).

I looked up some surf schools in Google maps and the first one I gave a surprise visit, the Salinas surf camp, was happy to give me a lesson for the next morning. Cool!

Victories in Spanish

Before I tell you about the surfing this morning, I need to brag a little. Well bragging is not quite right. I just want to share the good mood I got about using Spanish. I actually managed really well in a couple of situations sticking only to Spanish. I’m most proud about being able to buy a pre-paid sim-card for some extra internet data in Spain. And it seems the card works well too! I was quite skeptical about the usefulness of my “Duolingo-learning”, but it seems to have helped a lot. I’m really, really excited about this!

I was so afraid that I would switch to English very quickly, but I have been very consistent so far in sticking with Spanish as long as it is possible.

The first surf

I booked an early morning surf session and it was a bullseye! The beach was not crowded and there was almost no wind. The waves weren’t big, but it was exactly what I needed for the first day. I caught a few nice waves and remembered again why surfing is so amazing. The ratio of successes to failed attempts can be infinitesimal, but still you feel like you’ve had the best day ever. This time – even objectively speaking – I almost did better than ever. I absolutely can’t wait for next week in Baleal!

And now for something completely different: Santiago de Compostela

After surfing it was time to hit the road again. I looked at a few possibilities for the next stop and somehow ended up in Santiago de Compostela. As someone not religious in any meaning of the word that may seem an odd choice. Honestly and realistically, it was just a convenient place to spend the night before heading to Porto. But being the romantic I am, I think that in a way my tour can be seen as a pilgrimage of sorts as well.

I’m still in Santiago at the moment and the plan is to get to Porto in Portugal tomorrow. Below are some pictures of Santiago.

The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Praza do Obradoiro next to the cathedral. (Because I’m a bit of a language nerd, a quick side note: A big part of people here speak Galician instead of Spanish. That’s why it’s Praza and not Plaza.)
Beautiful small alleys everywhere
Summarizing this post: a confidence boost in many ways

When I was writing the last post, I still was torn between taking the straightest, most effective route and taking this detour. I’m so glad I did take the long way in so many ways. I already told you about the small victories I had with communicating in Spanish. That alone was a morale boost and it gave me real concrete hope of achieving at least one of my goals.

But that’s not all. I also realized that surfing and working can be combined nicely here. I hadn’t really planned well at all when it comes to these two goals. But the nice first day surfing, visiting the campsite next to San Vicente de la Barquera and looking around in Salinas raised my optimism about achieving these too. What was really good to know was that because this still is the high season it’s crowded everywhere, but in a few weeks time things will calm down a lot.

1 thought on “Northern Spain Drive-by – Helpful Realizations

  1. Moon Dog

    Santiago looks amazing! Those foodie pics would be welcome, would probably make this hospital stuff lot tastier! Good to hear you finally catched some waves!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *