Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cabuérniga - San Vicente del Monte

My friend Debbie (aka Nusense) was going to come to Cantabria (Spain) once again (see related posts) so I decided to check by bike some places near Cabuérniga that we could visit.

I took a FEVE train from Santander to Cabezón de la Sal. Bikes can be carried in the front carriage of the train without problems. My new backpack has some nice features for biking too. I can put the helmet in a especial pocket and I can drink from a tube without needing to stop.

From Cabezón de la Sal, I rode my bike to a small village called Sopeña. The intention was to check out a camping that I had seen on the internet called el molino de cabuérniga. The place looked good and it was very close to the river. At the entrance to the village there was a sign saying that the writer Manuel Llano was born there. That was a very nice coincidence because I had been planning to write a comic related to the Cantabrian Mythology and both the writer and the region is very significative to that.

On the way back north I stopped for a little bit at Ruente, to see "La Fuentona" (literally the big fountain) where it is said that an Anjana (a mythological creature) lives in.

Before getting to Cabezón de la Sal I turned left in Santibañez and headed for San Vicente del Monte through the mountains. In San Vicente there is a youth hostel that I wanted to check out because it looks like a good place to start routes.

It wasn't an easy job but the views of San Vicente, on the skirt of the Escudo de Cabuérniga, were very beautiful. I rode my bike along the Escudo and after a pleasant downhill I arrived at Valdáliga. Then I went back to Cabezón to take the train back home. It was quite a long route in the end (at least for me).

PS: Debz couldn't make it for her plane this time (work), but I visited her in London the following week. Wait for the next post! :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Picos de Europa (Peaks of Europe)

When I came from Poland I had a work meeting related to the project I am working for (FRESCOR) in Santander. After the meeting we took some of the participants to see the highest peaks in the region, Picos de Europa.

Although you can go up on foot without any problem, we decided to take the cable car that goes from Fuente De to almost the top of the peaks.

Some years ago I was afraid of getting on that cable car but now it seems I've become more brave :).

That is the group picture with my colleagues from the point where the cable car ends, really impressive views.

We had a pleasant walk on a glacial valley among the different peaks until we reached a famous shelter known as Aliva. From there, people went back through the cable car again and I decided to go down on foot.. and running!! I thought they would be faster than me but in the end I had to wait for them for more than an hour.

On the way back home, one of the cars had some problems. Nothing that my magic couldn't fix!! (ok, maybe Mihal and Martin also had something to do with it :D).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bieszczady - Poland - AEGEE Inspiring SU 2008

After my adventures in the Black Mountains (Wales), I took a Ryanair plane from London Stansted airport to Rzeszów (south east Poland), which is a great gateway to the Bieszczady mountains. I was going to spend two weeks in that region of Poland taking part into an AEGEE (the European student organization) event: the so-called Summer Universities (SU). My SU had the special codename of Inspiring SU, which was related to the activities that we were going to do (hiking, yoga, meditation). This is a google earth file with the main places and mountains I visited in the Bieszczady region: Bieszczady google Earth.

I met Santa at the airport and took a bus with her to the center of Rzeszow. She was coming from Latvia (with a change in Warszawa) and had told me to wait for her. In Rzeszow we met Simon, from England, who had came in the same plane as me but didn't know who I was. Then, we took a coach to Sanok where we would meet Maria and Aniko and then changed to another one going to Wetlina, in the heart of the Bieszczady mountains.

In general, my first impression about that part of Poland was very good. People, cars, streets.. everything was as modern as in Spain. The only but were the coaches, sort of old, and that it was a bit hard to find people speaking English (however I think that's a good thing as it means that we went to a place where foreigners don't go so often).

At Wetlina I met the rest of participants and organizers and we had a very nice dinner of dumplings (Pierogi). Then we played some games to get to know each other and remember our names. We were going to sleep in two beautiful huts by a river during the next week and my roommate was going to be Simon :).

Summing up, I had an amazing week in Wetlina: hiking mountains like Polonina Wetlinska, Tarnica, Kremenaros... practicing meditation with Ewa, the Olimpics games (major Pain!) where we had to compete in teams and we painted our faces, the sex-change party, the karaoke night, the European night where I prepared a Spanish omelet (tortilla de patatas), delicious lunches and dinner (very good food in Poland!!), watching the stars at night (I saw some shooting stars!!), having a early bath in the river every morning (one day I saw a deer!), the trips with the funny bus driver who used to take us near the base of the mountain in an overcrowded bus, playing my harmonica in the top of the mountain, exchanging secret messages in the secret messages panel and especially spending the night talking to Maria, Magda and Simon in our "pyjamas" sessions.

From Wetlina we went to Kalnica another village in the Bieszczady area. Some of the participants (including me) decided to go there through the mountains. It was a really hard hiking day because we had to carry out all our luggage with us (thank god I had Lion chocolates to help me out! :D). When we arrived to Kalnica, I couldn't believe it, we were going to live for the next days in a beautiful Shelter in the middle of the forest!!

The days in Kalnica were also great. The environment and the company was just perfect :D. We had bonfires every night where we used to cook and eat sausages (yummy!!!) and sing lots of songs!! Especially good at singing were Thomas and Chris!. From there we made some excursions, for example to Cisna where I made a portrait of almost everybody in a very nice furnished bar.

The days after Kalnica were nice but not as especial as the ones in the Bieszczady mountains. We went to visit some "human" things like a touristic town called Solina, an open air museum in Sanok, the Lancut castle or the city of Rzeszow and we went to fly on a Glider as well (I didn't fly though). Finally, the last day was very emotive. We wrote down nice things for each other in a poster, said our goodbyes and so on.

The only problem with the Inspiring SU is that it is over and we will never be able to go back in time to live it again :D. This is the list of great people that had the luck to live this experience:

Chris, Aga, Yvonne, Eeva, Anna-Lena, Santa, Thomas, Simon, Daniel, Aniko, Jorge, Paola, Magda, Karol, Tomek, Ewa, Kasia and Maria.