Some peaceful music to rouse us for breakfast at 7pm which slowly got more exuberant to encourage us out onto the road at 8am. Christine, Rebecca and I are the last people out of the door and we decide to walk together today. It will be another fairly short (8 mile) day as we are heading to Poo which has (an unfortunate name) but a nice beach, a private albergue AND wonderful scenery.
We set out with a cool breeze, blue sky and MOUNTAINS. These are the Picos de Europa mountains; tall, jagged and snow capped in the distance. We will be walking amongst and alongside them and the Atlantic Ocean for the next few days.
We set out walking through a green landscape on dirt tracks with a few flowering cider-apple orchards and a dramatic mountain backdrop. Then follow a ferny stream down to a small sandy cove and onto a wonderful coast path, past the Bufones de Arenillas ; a geological feature: cliff edge caverns that shoot sea water 20-30m into the air. Sadly the tide and wind conditions weren't right and they weren't performing today.
We stopped at 11am for coffee at Andrin, a small village and then turned inland and started to climb up tracks into a stony mountain landscape with stands of eucalyptus. There are small red roofed villages in the valleys and distant sea views.
About midday the mist descended and the mountain tops are lost in the clouds and about an hour later we started to descend, passing a small chapel with grilles in the walls so you could peep inside. Red votive candles flickered in the darkness.
It is always a surprise to enter a town so suddenly; within minutes we had passed from grey, rocky mountain paths to suburbia, and then quickly into the town centre of Llanes. A nice town which has Turkish looking villas with tall glazed balconies.
In the main square an elderly gent introduces himself as a former pilgrim and recommends a local restaurant. We find it just round the corner and order the Menu del Dia: another delicious meal. Bean stew, grilled fish, mixed salad, a bottle wine and flam. Then a group of men and women arrive with guitars. They tell us that they are Basque and start to serenade us and the entire cafe in rich harmonies; including a Spanish version of 'My Way' so we can join in the chorus. Magic!
We set out for Poo after lunch and book ourselves into a private Albergue. There is a palpable difference to our previous evening. Without a resident Hospitalero/a with heart, the albergue is no more than a student doss-house. Hospitality IS the albergue; there's nothing wrong with it in material terms; it's clean and sort of OK, but it lacks soul.
So we take ourselves to the beach and stroll along the cliff walk in the evening- wow! A small sandy cove is connected to the sea by a long azure blue channel with a stream running through a canyon with the mountains forming a blue-green backdrop. We are the only people here.
There are two small hotels at the back of the beach and we perch in the bar for a beer and to discuss plans for tomorrow. Christine and I both feel we can't just rush past this place, so decide to book into a hotel and spend the day resting on the beach! Rebecca is going to think about it.
Then we head to our bunks!