road trips will always be my favorite mode of travel. two weekends ago i had the wonderful opportunity to take my first road trip in a long long time to san sebastian with blake, his brother cameron, and a coworker of cam’s, cody. it was awesome. let me tell you why.
first of all, man do i miss cars. riding in them, driving them, listening to music, seeing the gas needle at F, windows down, getting out and stretching, the whole kit and kaboodle*. we started our weekend late friday morning, meeting at the cafe and packing the car up. the first advantage of driving in a car: no real packing limit. when you fly, or when you go by bus or train, you have to limit what you pack. with the car, i was able to pack my whole huge travel backpack and bring my computer too. holler. so we got the car packed and tried to find our way out of oviedo. this proved a bit difficult because 1) nowhere in spain do they use real street signs, and 2) the turn onto the highway was called a “sharp left” by google maps. here is a picture of said turn. sharp left? you decide.
once we got onto the highway though it was good. blake threw in the only cd we had because the car unfortunately had no mp3 player jack, and we had no way of connecting our ipods or anything. major bummer. we ended up listening to that cd like literally eleven times. not good.
but traveling by car is just so much more fun. it’s more comfortable, windows down is so much fun, it feels so much more communal. like you’re sharing a real experience among the other people in the car. and that’s such a cool feeling. plus we made killer time. we ended up getting to san sebastian in like 4 hours, which was way fast as far as road travel in spain goes.
a little about san sebastian. gorgeous city. i guess it’s somewhat famous for it’s beaches, la playa de la concha and another of which i don’t know the name. there is a really nice old section of town, with a lot of old, old buildings and churches and structures and the river through the city is really nice too. the bay that is surrounded by la playa de la concha has a little island right in the middle and it’s flanked on either side by two little mountains. very picturesque.
we checked into our hostel, which was actually way nice for a hostel, minus a kitchen, and then parked the car and then unpacked and took a walk around while cam took a nap. we were like six minutes from the beach which was great. cody and blake and i took a nice long walk around the old part of town and got a feel for the city, figured out what we wanted to do the next day then headed back to the hostel. by this time it was like seven or so, and cody and blake ended up napping too. once people woke up around ten we went to telepizza close by our hostel and then walked around the city some more. we went into the old part of town with the intention of finding a bar and hanging out for a bit, but it was weird, midnight on a friday night and there was hardly anyone out. so we ended up walking along the beach and heading back to our hostel for an early night.
we woke up the next morning ready for adventure. there were two beaches to see and two mountains to climb. spoiler alert: we conquer everything. anyway, we got some coffee, and headed up the first mountain. it wasn’t really a mountain, more of a mount, but still it took us a good 4 hours to hike all the way up and back down. we found tons of sweet stuff though, like a castleish/prison building and this cool soldier monument type place. loads of great photo ops. and at the very top is a huge statue of Jesus, and gorgeous views of the bay.
after we got back down we were all starving so we walked and walked looking for a grocery store. san sebastian is a really gorgeous city, but i gotta say that it was impossible to find anything useful there. like chino stores or grocery stores. not very common. but we finally found a grocery store, hilarious, and got our lunch here. rocking bocadillos and appetizers from grocery stores is such a better way to eat out than restaurants. that whole meal cost us each like no more than 5 euros, and we had food leftover and we were all stuffed. so great. after we got our food we headed to the second beach, the surfer beach, and ate our lunch on the boardwalk. after lunch it was beach time. cam and cody got in the water and blake started digging a hole which we all helped make huge. and then we buried cam in it. beach time was fun.
we showered up quick at the hostel and decided to go ahead and try and conquer the second mount by day’s end, so we headed off to the opposite end of the beach. there was a tram that went right up the mount and ended at the little fair/mini-amusement park they had at the top, or you could just walk. we decided to walk since the tram cost money. what sucked is at the top, there was still a fee to get in. but at 1.70 euro, it was hardly anything. so we went in, and then found out it cost to go up the tower that’s on the top of the mount. i was not about to have walked up that whole mount and then not go all the way up the tower, so we paid the two euros tower fee and headed up. absolutely worth it. we were higher up than we were at the statue of JC, and it was right at dusk, so we saw the whole bay and then the sun setting behind us. so beautiful.
it’s times like those that make traveling abroad worth it for me. there are times here in spain where i’m ready to go home and times when i’m happy to be here, but i think the times i’m most happy are when i’m seeing new places. there’s something special about seeing parts of the world you’ve never seen before. it’s such a cool feeling; there’s a confidence that comes with seeing some incredible things. that’s what makes this whole trip worth it to me. obviously the spanish i’ve learned is invaluable, but the fact that i’ve seen places, seen beautiful parts of the world that i might never see again, is so special and something i don’t want to ever take for granted. it’s funny to me that i try to take pictures of things that i see sometimes, because there’s no way the pictures i took of that sunset can compare to actually seeing that sunset against the ocean and the mountainside that high up. the way the colors mixed and blended and flowed together was stunning and just breathtaking to see the sun’s blaze on the water slowly giving way to night. absolutely gorgeous.
so we headed back down the mountain after the sunset to find some food and drink. we ended up ordering pizza again, because around 10 pm, nothing was open except way expensive restaurants. we ate the pizza at our hostel, and then hung out with some american girls who were staying in the room next to ours. we hung out with them for awhile and then decided to see what the san sebastian nightlife was like. so pointless. interesting how we went from such a great memory to something so forgettable as “going out”. the nightlife in san sebastian was just the same as oviedo. lots of people are in the street and lots of people are in bars and there’s lots of noise. the end. i can’t wait to travel with someone else who has no real desire to experience that part of spanish culture, cause i’m very much burnt out on it.
next day we woke up and decided to head out of town, basically seeing as much as we had wanted to see. we did want to make one stop on the way back to oviedo; my host parents had told me that the city of santander has some absolutely gorgeous beaches and that we HAD to stop, so that was the one other main stop we made. and they weren’t kidding. the weather was even terrible too; really cold and windy, but as soon as blake and i stepped out of the car in santander along the beach, we knew we had to come back sometime. what we saw was really really pretty, and beaches galore they’ve got. we saw like two or three individual beaches just from where we parked and there was this HUGE peninsula that has loads more. i really hope we make it back there.
after we left santander, we tried to find the caves of altamira. in my let’s go travel book, it gave some extremely vague street directions to this place. we tried to find it, gave up, ended up finding the exit on the highway by accident, found the signs that pointed us towards the caves, got stopped by a random police check zone, then finally found the caves, but they were closed. according to my travel book, they closed on sundays at 5 pm. we made it there a little before 4. bum deal let’s go travel book. but it was an exciting jaunt off the beaten path a bit. after that we just headed back to oviedo.
overall a super great weekend. man i miss driving so much. can’t wait to make that first drive from kc back to cr. how great will that be, with my ipod plugged in, volume up loud, a 32 oz mountain dew in the cup holder, singing my heart out. can-not-wait. only a month and a half away. i feel a st. louis road trip coming on. adam? colleen? let me know.
* i’m not sure if kaboodle is a K word.