And to the North (of Spain) we went (Part 1)
We grabbed a car on the most rainy day of the month in Madrid. If you have been to Madrid, or if you have heard about its weather you might know that rain is just... not that common. Everyone kept telling us to drive very carefully because it was dangerous to drive in such conditions. Did we listen to their advice? No, for the simple reason that we were used to driving in rain, so we grabbed our Volkswagen Golf and drove north!
This post will have a summary of the trip and some general recommendations, and I will dive into the details on a second post.
These are the the cities/towns we stopped at, and the amount of time at each):
Logroño, La Rioja, Spain (1 night)
Donostia-San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain (2 nights)
Santander, Cantabria, Spain (2 nights)
Comillas, Cantabria, Spain (spent the day)
Llanes, Asturias, Spain (2 nights)
Cabezón de Sal, Cantabria, Spain (spent the afternoon)
Valladolid, Castille and Leon, Spain (2 nights)
In general, for this trip we chose cities based on the most important interests that the 4 travelers in the car shared: FOOD and WINE.
Now... you may ask, what kind of food is to be found in Northern Spain? Let me tell you!
Northern Spain Gastronomy:
I am saying Northern Spain as if that were a thing, but I shouldn't be generalizing. We visited three provinces along the Northern coast (from East to West): Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias. Each with its unique style of life, different economic drivers and history. The area however does share something out of which I can 'generalize' the cuisine: its location. Northern Spain is characteristic for being rainy, and cold, in comparison to the rest of the country. This makes the region much greener than its Southern counterpart. Some people even call it Green Spain? Additionally, the closeness to the ocean has a strong effect on the cuisine of the area. For this, there are four important things that you will find:
Great seafood (both fish and shellfish)
Great meat (due to grasslands and agricultural history)
Great cheese (due to grasslands and agricultural history)
Cider (and yes, I will recommend a good Sidreria for you to visit, on the next post)
In the Basque Country we enjoyed the tapas, which were very diverse, and depending on the restaurant/bar you visit can be either traditional or modern. I suggest you try both.
In Cantabria we enjoyed seafood mostly, and in Asturias we dug into a very impressive piece of meat that well... you need to try even if you can't finish.
You might be wondering about the Wine though... Because Tapas & Wine are the two things you hear when you hear about Spain. Well to cover that angle we took the loop you can find in below's map. We went North through La Rioja, and had a few different wines from that area in Logroño. On our way down we stopped in Valladolid, visited one of Spain's most important Wine Cellars to the day, Protos. Which also is one of our favorites.
Overall we would say that you should take a good raincoat, you never know when it will rain. Even though we went at the end of the summer we make sure to be prepared for cold nights and rainy moments because you can never be too careful.
Another recommendation, and this one is key if you want to visit the beautiful off-road sceneries like beaches or cliffs, or small towns, is to rent a car. It is the best way to do everything at your own pace, even stay a few days longer if you fall in love with a specific scenery.
The third recommendation, and this one is a MUST... take a group of people that fulfills these requirements:
They can eat
They can eat... a lot
They like good wine
They are easygoing
They have an interest in both culture and relaxation.
Ok... maybe that's too specific and I'm describing the group we went with but they were just amazing - so shoutout to them! If they ever read this. Which they will because I will make them :)
I guess that's that for now. The next post shall have the details of what we did in each city. So it might be a bit long - and you can find it HERE.
Here's the map of our 1,273Km drive: