We needed a place to stay a night to break up the journey between San Sebastian and Santiago de Compostela, and so after picking a spot (literally just picked a coast town at random from Google maps) and finding somewhere to sleep we headed to Cudillero.
Almost immediately after getting off the main highway I began to regret this decision. The roads started to get very narrow very quickly, and as the GPS still said we had a few kilometres to go I was getting a little worried. A brand new car sounded nice on paper, but when you’ve got a stone wall 10cm from the side mirror and a local coming back up the road from the pub at high speed it is a bit of a different story. We made it down the road though, and once Cudillero came into view the drive started to look worth it.
We checked in at a little place called Pension Alver. The host, Dave, was fantastic – very talkative and friendly, he told us all the nice places to go for walks, where to get the best food and where to find the best local cider, and then marked them all out on a map that he leant us for the night.
We headed out quickly to explore the village, and almost immediately it started raining on us. Luckily we had Dave’s map, so we decided to duck into one of his recommended spots and try out some of the local cuisine instead. Bridge had a wine, I tried a bottle of the local cider and we had some chipironos (grilled baby squid) to share – all delicious. (A side note on the cider – it isn’t anything like what we are used to in New Zealand. You buy a fairly big bottle for a euro or two, leave it on the table, and then when you feel like drinking a little the barman will come and hold the bottle as high as he can in one hand, the glass as low as possible in the other and pour a little from bottle to glass. Its much more sour than we’re used to back home, and we’ve heard it described variously by locals as “great” and “tastes like it was strained through old socks”. Whatever the case, it is very popular. I like it, Bridget does not).
The next morning we woke up early, found the weather to be nicer and went out to see Cudillero properly. The village is built into the bowl of the hills surrounding the harbour, and there is a maze of tiny steep pathways between the houses. We picked our way up to the top of the hill, always feeling a little like we were on someone’s front porch, and watched the village wake up.
On the way out of town, I experienced on of the most nervous times I’ve ever had behind the wheel of a car. The road into Cudillero is barely wide enough for cars, but in the mornings we found that all the shops in town are supplied by trucks, and that all the trucks come into town at about the time we wanted to leave. And as they are coming downhill, they assume that you will get out of their way and so just don’t bother to brake. It probably took about half an hour to go 500m, but in the end we made it out, and got back on the path towards Santiago.