This may come as a surprise, but it is not summer here in Spain. Far from it. Nighttime temperatures everywhere we’ve been so far are sometimes below freezing, but more normally get to about 4 degrees. Daytime temperatures vary quite a bit, sometimes moment to moment.
Our current apartment has a swimming pool, but when I asked if it was open, the hostess laughed and said, “sure, but unless you have a few beers first, you probably won’t want to swim in it.” I felt it. It’s warmer than the Flevoparkbad, but not big enough to warm up by swimming the first laps quickly.
In San Sebastian, there was a place we considered with a rooftop hot tub. Unfortunately, the rooftop is only open from mid-June. It’s a hot tub, for heaven’s sake. I’m sure we’d feel great up there.
Remember this story… it will come up later.
We slept in a bit today. It felt great. Then we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in our apartment. We didn’t get out the door until after 11. Our first stop? Up, up, up! I love gondolas and funiculars, so we were headed to Fuente De, where there’s one up the mountain.
On the way there, my ears popped once.
When we got there, the goats came to greet us. Their herd dogs were quite skeptical, however, and kept them well surrounded on all sides, all the while barking at us in a warning manner.
I always forget that Matt is quite afraid of heights. Even safely walking across a bridge (in Quito, a few years back), for example, he didn’t want to look over the edge. He hates that I tend to walk out as far as possible whenever given the chance. I’m impressed that he so bravely continues to take risks!
Yesterday’s friendly Belgians warned us that heavy clouds were expected at the top of the gondola, and they weren’t wrong. We couldn’t see anything at all. We could hear a family somewhere nearby (or maybe not so nearby), but otherwise it felt otherworldly.
After hanging out with our crow friends a bit and looking at the snow and rocks and mist, we were hungry, and I was sleepy (heights make me sleepy when I’m not used to them), so we went to the cafeteria for lunch.
It was a bit more food than expected: 4 types of local cheese, fried chorizo and bread, so I made the woman who served us crack up by telling her that our pants were too tight, making it too hard to eat all the food she gave us, so could I please have some aluminum foil?
And we headed back to the gondola and the balcony overlooking the abyss.
On the way back down, the view begins to clear.
And when we were all done, we headed on to check out a beautiful Franciscan Monastery down the road a bit. Monasterio de Santo Toribio de Liebana was lovely, and is an active monastery with a lovely church that has daily services for the public as well as other events.
When we’d seen everything we could see at the monastery, we headed up up up the mountain, where a tiny chapel perched at the edge of another abyss.
The door was locked, but here is the inside, as seen through the window bars:
After all these heights, I was ready to go find the hot springs that are reportedly all along the rivers, sometimes easy to access under bridges. We drove to the one we were most sure about. The access under the bridge looked questionable, so I asked an old man who was walking by.
“Yes, it’s here!” he told me. “Right here… you go down there… (he pointed at a bit of cement from the bridge that extended a bit downriver), then pull yourself back up the river under the bridge.”
“Ok!” I enthusiastically said to Matt. “Let’s go!”
“No, no no no no no!” said the man. “You can’t go now! In summer, in summer! In summer all the young people are under the bridge. This one, and another, that way. All the young people. You have to come back in summer!”
When I think of hot springs, I think how nice they are on a cold cold day. Why would I need to wait until summer? Matt and I drove on to another bridge with a nearby walking route. We parked and went to check out the water.
In every place we checked, the water was much warmer than I would have expected from a mountain river, but it wasn’t hot springs. Perhaps with the higher waters in the spring, there is too much mixing with the hot springs, and so it just makes a warmer river than it would be without them.
We did find a full bathtub on the way back to our motorcycles, but it didn’t seem as appealing.
So having failed at that, we headed back to Potes and our apartment. Matt had a nap, then we went to the same bar as yesterday. The dreadlocked cook makes yummy food, and the waitress is nice.
Today, the priest was in his frock, playing chess with a bunch of his friends, including a pair of identical twins and our dreadlocked cook. He was kicking their butts, too.
We ordered the local cider today, which needs to be aerated using a strange pump method that makes me feel totally touristy.
And finally, here are more views of this adorable town of Potes. By the way, these streets are for automobiles, and construction vehicles, not just pedestrians!