Cow bells and Church bells

We have deviated from our planned holiday a bit over the last few days. We hadn’t planned on visiting Spain for another couple of weeks but the end of April is the French school holidays and the crowds of kids and queues at some of the holiday spots weren’t what we were after.

We had a little discussion one night after waiting for about an hour to get a train to the top of La Rhune and decided that Spain wasn’t having school holidays so we would go there. Kate did a little research and came up with an area that was renown within Spain as a great walking/hiking area named Picos de Europa. We ended up staying just outside the main town of Potes.

We have been here five nights and have had some chill out days and some rather strenuous ones as well. We arrived in pouring rain and the gorge we drove through reminded me of the drive into Milford Sound in New Zealand. The cliffs were alive with waterfalls and every two hundred metres or so another one would be cascading down onto the side of the road. From what we could see through the clouds the peaks in this area were pretty spectacular but we were to find out once the cloud cleared that these were the lowest peaks around here.

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Potes

Potes is a lovely little town that was closed on the day we arrived, they were having the Procession of Santuca. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it “Early May, the Liébana is host to the procession of Santuca, one of the biggest in Spain. The statue of the Virgen de la Luz leaves the chapel to join Aniezo Santo Toribio de Liebana”. There were a lot of people in the procession and the explosive fireworks certainly made a decent bang 🙂 Other than that I haven’t been able to find out much about it.

While we have been here they have also had the equivalent of our A&P show but only for cattle from the mountains.

A prize winner

It was just like back home (Southland) with the farmers coming to town and standing around having a chat about who had the best cows 🙂 It was nice to go along and see, although I didn’t appreciate the early wake up call from the cows being herded along the main street past our hotel. If there is one thing you hear everywhere around these parts it is the cow bells, it doesn’t matter if you are in town or in the mountains you can hear them.

The walks here took us just above the tree line and they had some pretty spectacular views. The effort involved in a couple of them was more than I had done in a little while so the lungs were struggling a bit but once you get to see the views it is all worth it. The animal life is interesting as well, we have seen buzzards, eagles, and multiple types of lizard. We didn’t see brown bears, Iberian wolves or vipers which I classify as a good thing. The trail system here is well sign posted and easy to follow and they seem to have trails of varying levels to suit everyone.

Granite Wall

We have decided to stay in Spain a while longer, so over the next week we will make our way across to Barcelona (originally the only Spanish stop) and then look at doing the parts of the French Pyrenees we planned to do this week. It is great to have the flexibility to be able to go where we like when we feel like it.

And one last thing, the church bells, they chime every half hour from 8am to 10pm. I thought it may bother me after a while but I have grown to enjoy the ringing during the day. Tomorrow I will be back to using my watch.