Almost 2,000 Kilometers of verdant coastline across the Iberian Peninsula announce that one has arrived on the “Green Coast” of Spain. Galacia, Asturias, Cantabria, and Basque Country are equally rich with history and natural beauty and something we “almost” missed on our journey back into France. We knew our stop in Santiago de Compostela would be a taste of Northern Spain and we planned to “cut corners” after Galacia.
We quickly changed our route after getting a glimpse of the Asturias coastline. Jagged, snowy peaks plunge into spring green valleys that roll into miles of golden sand. As we hugged the coat into Cantabria, we settled in Noja, Spain for a week of exploring this seemingly remote and fascinating region of Spain.
The highlights of this region were all mother nature’s work. The national parks, nature reserves, prehistoric caves and endless coastline was where we spent most of our time. There were a few “urban” highlights, however.
We searched for what felt like hours for a convent famous for its cakes. Once inside the gate, we had the joy of meeting Sister Maria. She was from India and had been cloistered for 18 years. She, and her sisters, only leave if they need medical care or to visit family once every 6 years. Sister Maria glowed as she sold us traditional yogurt cakes and almond cookies that were their “bread and butter” at Convento De Sta Maria De La Merced.
The town of Noja was sleepy, to say the least. We learned that it grows from 3,000 inhabitants year-round to 80,000 in summer!
We explored the marina at Santander as it is hailed as one of the most beautiful in the world and will be hosting the 2014 World Sailing Championships.
The towns of Llerganes and Puente Viesgo gave us a glimpse into inland villages and their desserts – sobaos, quesada, arroz con leche and corbatas.
We entered the heart of Basque Country in Biloba. Did you know the inhabitants of this region speak the oldest language in Europe against the backdrop of the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum and state-of-the-art transportation? It is a region of contrasts.
We are so grateful we didn’t “cut” this magnificent “corner” of the world. Sometimes GPS doesn’t know best. We followed our inspiration and although “not planning” it all out is sometimes painful, it gives us the freedom to live this dream in ways we never would have put in an itinerary.
International Living just posted another one of our articles about Discovering the Villages of Le Luberon, Provence, France.