• Pedro Caballero

And to the North (of Spain) we went (Part 2)

We did a trip to Northern Spain, and we ate a lot, and took some sun, and saw some wonderful scenes. If you want to read more general info about our trip, you can find that here.


Now let's dive right in to the food, the bad and the walkways of the different cities we visited.


Logroño

We stopped in Logroño for one night. It was probably the shortest stop of the trip and we did not do as much research into this as we did for the rest. We would probably say that you could skip it - but it would be a 5-hour drive straight to San Sebastian. There are cute small streets, and good wine everywhere. Literally close your eyes, find a bar, and order a glass of Rioja.


Where to eat & drink:

  • Calle del Laurel: Here you will find a lot of different bars with wine and tapas. You can pick one, or do what we recommend... visit a few of them and have a few tapas at each.

  • Restaurante Asador Pan y Vino: Great place for meat and wine, definitely make a reservation before.

  • Asador el Portalón: Best restaurant that we found in our short trip. Amazing meat, vegetables and a delicious wine. All served by a great staff.

What to do:

  • Visit the Cathedral of Logroño and the Church of San Bartolomé.

  • Go for a stroll at the Ebro Park by the river.


Donostia-San Sebastian

This was our first important stop. And by important we meant that we were PSYCHED for this. We wanted to make the most of it so we... devoured since the moment we parked the car (even before we arrived to the Airbnb). We walked and stopped in various places. We tried traditional tapas, we tried modern tapas, we had vermut, we had beer, we had cocktails, we had wine... we walked a lot. We even enjoyed the beach. And... We got to visit a Sidreria.


Where to eat & drink:

  • La Viña: Let's start by the starter. I mean dessert. This place has an amazing Cheesecake. Just make sure you don't just go after you're already stuffed from dinner. Each slice is big enough for 2 people, and there is often a line (you shall stand and wait in line);

  • Casa Vergara 1948: Located right in front of the Baroque Church in the old part of town, this place offers a wide assortment of traditional tapas, and has a strange way to order them. You need to fill out a paper and hand it to one of the bartenders/staff.

  • Atari Gastroleku: Atari is one of the most famous tapas places in San Sebastian. It is a modern take on tapas, and you shall not be disappointed. Make a reservation to get a table, or just arrive and wait for a seat at the bar. Make sure you order a few things to share, and then repeat...

  • A Fuego Negro: A good place for some modern tapas, but I definitely recommend to get a table here. You must try their Wagyu burgers - they are pretty good.

  • Topa Sudalkeria: From Andoni Aduriz, the Chef of Mugaritz, this restaurant is an interesting Basque-Latinamerican fusion experience. We had way too much food here, and most of it was delicious. We also recommend you have the cocktails.

  • Saizar Sidreria: We went here to try the famous Basque cider. It is very different from the Asturian cider, and we recommend you try both and compare. This one we enjoyed more because it involved serving yourself out of a huge barrel. As for the menu, you pay a certain amount and will get a fixed menu with chorizo, tortilla, steak and dessert. Ohh.. and all you can drink cider - which never hurts. Just make sure you have a designated driver as its 15 minutes from San Sebastian.

What to do:

  • Visit the Old Town: It is a beautiful scenery, with tons of things to do and many places to see. There are candy stores, tapas bars and small clothing stores everywhere.

  • Mount Urgull: It is nice to walk by the ocean, especially surrounding this hill. If you want to go to the top, the view is impressive, but even from the street-level you will enjoy a great sight of the San Sebastian Bay.

  • Miramar Palace: We are unclear as if this place is nice inside... But if you want to feel near the beach without having to go down to the beach, you can sit here and watch the surfers do their thing. And enjoy the sun (if you get any).

  • Visit the modern part of the city: The old part of town is charming, but if you grow tired of the same small area, you can always expand from there. The modern part of town is wonderful, with a lot of coffee shops and a vast amount of modern restaurants that you might enjoy. The buildings are also very different and worth looking at.


Santander

We were driving to Santander to spend two nights there. We had heard great things about the seafood in Cantabria, and before we arrived there we did a small stop in Somo, to have a few hours at the beach. Be warned - the water is cold... But it is very refreshing. After that, in Santander we wondered around town and had a few relaxing days before moving on to Asturias.


Where to eat & drink:

  • Santa & Co: If you're looking for breakfast or brunch, this is the place. They have great sandwiches and delicious eggs.

  • Sandoñana: This restaurant is a great place to try the local seafood favorites, as well as other typical Spanish dishes. We shared some fried calamari and a cheese platter amongst other plates. Other seafood plates to try include the anchovies and the octopus.

  • Restaurante del Puerto S.A.: A fourth-generation seafood restaurant from Santander which offers delicious dishes like clams, anchovies, bonito, prawns... They have two spaces, a bar on the first floor and a larger seating area with tables upstairs.

  • Mercado Municipal del Este: You can come here for some cañas and food to share. It's a nice space with a large variety of tapas at a very good price.

What to do:

  • Playa de Somo: Located in what feels like a copy-cat California surfer town (where everyone has a Spanish accent) or is definitely a tourist, the beach offers good space on the beach to take the sun, get in the ocean or even take some surf lessons. If it's high season make sure you come early, or with enough patience to find a parking lot. Please be advised that the many restaurants in the area are not amazing, and a bit overpriced.

  • Centro Botín: One of Santander's most impressive buildings is home to a wonderful art center.

  • Catedral de Santander: Built between the 12th and 14th century, the city's Cathedral is a place that you should visit, as you should every other Cathedral in Spain.

  • Palacio de la Magdalena: Located in the Magdalena Peninsula of Santander, the palace was built between 1909 and 1911 for the Spanish Royal Family. The palace grounds are open to visits and it is a spectacular sight.


Comillas

We spent the morning in the Playa de Oyambre, just a 15 minutes drive from Comillas, and then set to town for lunch, and to walk around in the afternoon. Definitely suggest visiting the beach in the morning as it gets crowded. If you're interested in surfing, there are a few surf camps in that area so you should get in contact with them in advance. As for Comillas, its small but very well maintained, with a lot of visitors due to El Capricho de Gaudí.


Where to eat & drink:

  • Restaurante Cafetería Los Castaños: Plates are HUGE, which is important to know, as you could share something with another person and be full.

  • El Rayo Verde: Great outdoor bar on the hills near the beach. Wonderful for the warmer months.

What to do:

  • El Capricho de Gaudí: El Capricho is a small villa designed by Antoni Gaudí in the 1880s. If you visit I would recommend buying tickets in advance, as its always booked.

  • Puerta de los Pájaros: Beautiful entrance to a gorgeous house, located on a hill.

  • Cementerio Ruta Modernista: One of the most beautiful cemeteries in Spain, it has incredible sculptures and remains very well-kept, even though it was built at the end of the 19th century.

  • Playa de Oyambre: The tide in this beach rises quickly throughout the day, so I suggest you visit early. You wills a very wide beach, but by 1pm the tide will be high, and the beach crowded.


Llanes

Llanes is what I would call a small but fun town. We were here for a few days and even though we knew our bearings since day one, we managed to visit a few different places, and explore everything that this place has to offer. From baked goods to cider (The Asturian way), and wonderful sights of the ocean.


Where to eat & drink:

  • Bluu Beach Cafe Bar: Wonderful location, and SPICY Patatas Bravas. Great for some drinks, or even dinner - just make sure you make a reservation.

  • Confiteria Vega: This place is the holy grail of the city. Operating since the 1950s, the baked goods offered here are the most exquisite we tried in the Northern coast so far.

  • Cidreria el Bodegón: Two things you need from here. The first is the Cachopo, a traditional Asturian dish which consists of two veal or beef steaks filled with cheese and a slice of ham. Often served with fries and peppers, it comes in large portions, so please share! The second is cider, which in Asturias is served in small bottles, and must be poured from a distance to the glass.

What to do:

  • Torre del Castillo: A pretty sight, especially at night. You will probably see it three times a day due to the size of the town.

  • Playa de Poo: A beautiful, breathtaking beach about 10-minutes driving from Llanes.

  • Bufones de Arenillas: A natural monument that requires you to walk for 15 minutes from your car, but its definitely great to visit. After years of water clashing against the rocks, Bufones have been created which is when water rises, through the rocks.


Cabezón de Sal

Our first reason to come near Cabezón de Sal was the Redwood Forest that is planted nearby. And it was phenomenal! Definitely worth a few extra minutes driving. Then we found a good restaurant in Cabezón de Sal.


Where to eat & drink:

  • Abacería de la Sal: Visit this place, please. Their vegetables were extremely fresh - we had tomatoes and artichokes. And we had meat and some desserts as well.

What to do:

  • Redwood Forest: You want sequoias, and are in Europe? This is the place for you. Although still young, these trees are up to 36 meters high, and were planted in the 1940s, as the country looked for a stable resource of timber during those years. Find more info here.


Valladolid

As the last stop of our trip we went to Valladolid, and unfortunately did not have much time to visit. It is a good city to stop on the way back to Madrid, replenish some energy (with wine), and stretch our legs walking through a great park and going up the stairs of a nice old fortress.


Where to eat & drink:

  • Fuente Aceña Hotel Boutique:This hotel has a wonderful restaurant with a delicious variety of Spanish plates and a great list of local wines.

  • El Mercado del Trigo: This restaurant has good typical Spanish food for breakfast, as well as a good variety of pastries that you can eat there, or take for the road (which we did).

What to do:

  • Bodegas Protos: One of my favorite wine cellars in Spain. Protos wine is well-known because of its great quality. The tour of the cellars is amazing to say the least, as they show you the different parts of the cellar, explain the process and give you a taste of a white and a red wine.

  • Castillo de Peñafiel: Shaped like a ship, this castle's construction began ion 947 as a frontier outpost to defend from the area from Arabs The building still stands and is now home to the Museum of Wine.

  • Campo Grande: The main park in Valladolid offers a great thing... Peacocks. You will walk around and see maybe 30-40 of them just hanging out, posing for photos, owning the park.



Photos of the Trip:


Logroño




Donostia-San Sebastian




Santander




Comillas




Llanes




Cabezon de Sal




Valladolid







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