Cycling Spain’s North Coast – Day 6

July 11

After the long day, yesterday, Shar and I were both a bit bleary at the start.  We dropped our bags at the van a few minutes late and scurried to get our bikes ready.  Geoff inquired as to whether we’d seen the chapel, there in our monastery/hotel.  Getting a negatory from us, he insisted that we take the time to see it.  He’s a prince.  And it was definitely worth our time.

The Parador Hotels are state-owned.  Their mission is to preserve and showcase historical and natural wonders that wouldn’t otherwise survive and/or have accommodations available.  The Fuente De hotel (nights 3 & 4) is an example of the latter.  Our monastery hotel, with the restored chapel (above) is an example of the historical preservation.

It’s a short ride of 12 km from Cangas to Covadonga, the site of the cathedral.

Built into the hillside is a chapel, the significance of which I missed…but which is an inspired effort of site engineering for any time not modern.

Said chapel, perched in the rock alcove (above) is shown again, below.

I got reprimanded for taking this picture, but it was too late to prevent its capture.  The path from here to the cathedral went through a dark tunnel with votive candles along one wall.  We lit one for Mom, as we tend to do at significant Catholic shrines.

Unfortunately for our cycling, neither Shar nor I felt well after the short, but steep climb into Covadonga.  Shar’s knee hurt badly and I felt disoriented.  So, returning from the cathedral outing, we piled into the van.  The rider’s day was relatively short, but it included a steep 10 km climb to an overlook with a great 360 degree view.  I captured Shakila and Geoff just a few meters short of the summit.  In the hazy background, one can see the hills of Covadonga…

…and in the opposite direction is the Atlantic Ocean, which is a bit off to the right, out of sight, in the image below.

The Big Cheat

We loaded up the van at this summit to begin a transfer that would lop 270 km off the distance to Santiago.  The reason for this is to save our bodies and to allow us to see more beautiful and/or important places.  The day finished in Ribadeo, on the coast.  Ribadeo is one of three towns at the mouth of the Eo River, known for its salmon fishing, which divides Asturias from Galicia (to the west).  

We went beyond town to see the “most famous beach in Spain”, Cathedral Beach, so called because erosion along the shoreline has created arches accessible only at low tide.  Unfortunately, it was past low and, well, you know…  Nonetheless, it was a nice spot.  Too bad we couldn’t see the arches from the headlands.

Ribadeo s in a beautiful setting.  The view from the hotel looks across the bay to both the other towns.  This is the more scenic of the two.

It comes in threes

There were no serious mishaps on the trip, but this had to be the minor kerfuffle day for both of us.  First, we had our issues that put us in the van.  Then, the hotel, another Parador, botched the reservation.  We ended up with a downgrade room, with the only view being for the bar patrons, looking down into our window.  Finally, at our waterfront dinner, the young, non-English speaking waiter misunderstood Shar’s request for ketchup, which is a non-standard, but not unheard of condiment, with her hamburgeusa.  Several waiters were delivering pinchos (free, small snacks, typically eaten in bars, traditional in northern Spain and especially popular in the Cantabria, Asturias, the Basque country and Navarre), so when my grilled dish arrived with no fanfare and no accomplishments…and no hamburgeusa for Shar…it wasn’t clear if that was my order or not.  I/we was/were pretty much done with it when the hamburgeusa arrived, along with a HUGE platter of breaded, fried meat on a bed of fries.  So, I’m thinking this must have been what I ordered and the previous grilled meat was just a very generous pincho.  Well, the check indicated otherwise.  This gargantuan dish had a name like cawsaup, or whatever.  Anyway, we shoulda had salmon.

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