San Sebastián, Spain
After winding out of Switzerland into the Jura mountains, we ripped through the frigid centre of France via Lyon, St. Etienne and Montpellier. Mist and rain chilled us to the core as we fumbled through the valleys cloaked in fog. But less than 48 hours later fresh Spanish rain welcomed us to our final country in mainland Europe.
A first for both of us was Barcelona which, despite being late in the year, was still bustling with tourists and handbag salesmen. We mostly just wandered between the sights and the beach, but made a specific visit to Sagrada Familia. Recommended by many, this phenomenal building is a real celebration of architecture, planning and, I suppose, Christianity. We sauntered in as the sun on the westerly coloured windows bathed the interior with warm light. It is an almost alien experience inside the unfinished cathedral and a real highlight of this Mediterranean coast.
The cities on the Atlantic coast swap their tapas for pintxos, but we needed some locals to help us choose the best places to go. This was how we ended up in San Sebastián catching up with some trekkers we had met in Nepal the year before. George and Jess knew all the best places for a pintxos crawl, 6 hours of snacks and drinks. From calamari to prawns and salted cod to amazing octopus and anchovy bites. It all ended very cleanly with the world’s most awesome cheesecake. Best of all, we now have the cheesecake recipe!
Ferries, like planes, can end up in the wrong place when their journeys are cancelled. Our relaxing last days in Bilbao turned into a last-minute, pre-dawn ride of an extra 100km to Santander. Bad weather had meant our boat was leaving from there instead. We finally said goodbye to the piece of earth we’d been on for the previous 21 months. As we rode up the ramp onto our Brittany Ferry, we could no longer taste Singapore and Asia. Instead the salty air filled with diesel fumes and we motored into the Bay of Biscay.