Up the Fuente De
Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
67Trip End Dec 22, 2007
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Apparently the scenery was stunning although I didn't get to see much as I had to concentrate on the road. It was only just wide enough for 2 cars to pass, so when trucks and buses come barrelling along at you, you have to move over to the edge as close as possible. There were some close calls, especially when you add into the mix the crazy ass Spanish drivers and their ability to take racing lines (cutting the corner) through even the blindest of corners.
The road is cut into the side of the valley walls on either side of the river, with numerous crossings over even narrower bridges, meaning that traffic in both directions gets a turn at having a steep drop to the river below right next to your door on one side, and having the sheer rock face where the road has been cut out of the mountain side on the other
The Picos de Europa has numerous peaks over 2500 metres high less than 20 km from the coast, meaning that the drive up was just that, up. I have never driven uphill for that long before, and always in the background these huge peaks way up above letting you know that you've still got a long way to go. Potes, a small town on the way, marks the point where you turn left to continue out to the southern side of the range, or right, the way we were going, to the cable car at Fuente De. That's right, Mandy had decided she had recovered from her breakdown on the way up Table Mountain in South Africa, and had decided to take on her second cable car ride of our trip.
We arrived mid afternoon, with our campground surrounded by massive mountains all around us. It was cool but not cold and there was barely a breath of wind. After another massive ham and salad roll, our lunch everyday so far, we set out on the short walk to the base station of the cable car. The ride up was great, the cable car started to swing a bit in the breeze and Mandy barely looked out the window the hole time. When we got to the top the door swung open and it hit us.
"Oh my god it's cold!!!" The wind was absolutely howling, sometimes making it hard to keep your balance. We looked a bit funny at the base station wearing jeans and jackets to everyone else in their shorts and t-shirts, but now the tide had turned. There was some kids there in a school group who had the thinnest of jumpers. We had on our thermals tops, t-shirt, jacket and then our raincoats and beanies, and it was still cold. But the views were breathtaking. Some areas were barren and rocky, while others were full of new growth
We spent an hour or so on top of the mountain, before braving the ride back down again. Mandy's confidence had reached a new level by the time we were coming back down and she looked out the windows without fear. By the time we reached the base there was a distinct chill in the air and we knew we were in for a cold night ahead.
Our campground was fairly protected, but as the night wore on, the wind continued to strengthen. We spent the whole night spooning for warmth, taking turns being the big spoon and the little spoon. Although after just a few weeks in Europe we were both becoming big spoons very quickly, especially around the middle if you know what I mean (tummy region).
The next morning we decided to continue on south and go and explore the town of Leon, a couple of hours south. The road out of Picos de Europa to the south was just as spectacular as the way in but with much less traffic. At one point we spent almost half an hour climbing up the side of a mountain. When we reached it's peak there was a lookout and we could see the road snaking away below us. We had just spent half an hour not actually getting anywhere but going straight up. On the other side of the mountain, almost immediately, the weather turned for the worse. The drive to Leon was wet, windy and cold, and by the time we got there the car's thermometer read 11 degrees. Bugger that, so we turned around and headed north again for the coast. Three hours later we were setting up camp near a town called Cudillero just west of Avilles, on the coast, in sunshine and 25 degrees.
Next time - I get to go surfing finally, and more rain!!!!