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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

3 September 2017

A cool part of Spain

Approaching mountains

Approaching mountains

26 August 2017

There’s a really cool part of Spain that I don’t think many people are aware of. Right across the north of the country are some amazingly wild mountains, starting with the Pyrenees but running right across to the Portuguese border. And when I say wild, I mean that these mountains are still home to grey wolves and brown bears. So that’s what we’re here to look for. And when I say cool, I also mean that it’s only flippin’ 6 degrees centigrade first thing in the morning! In August!

We got up at the crack of dawn to look for wildcats, another rare species that still survives here, and we found one hunting in the fields alongside the road! They look like big, stocky tabby cats with sad whiskers. Very nifty. This is when I discovered that my camera battery had somehow drained itself during transit yesterday. I’ve no idea how. Best guess, it accidentally got switched on and then something else in the bag was pressing on the shutter release the whole journey.

Wildcat

Wildcat

So most of today became a four hour round-trip to Leon, the nearest big town that would actually have a camera shop (hey, I did say wild mountains), where we got lucky at our second try: El Corte Ingl├ęs, one of those splendid old-fashioned department stores that has a department for literally everything. You certainly don’t find pets, DIY and books alongside ladies fashion and men’s casual at House of Fraser or John Lewis. I can’t tell you much about the attractions of Leon, as we simply buzzed around edge-of-town shopping complexes and then dropped back onto the ring road out of town. Ugh.

We managed to miss lunch too, so had to survive on three churros each until dinner. Quick reminder of eating habits in any part of Spain that isn’t a big city or a tourist resort: restaurants open at around 1-2pm and then close by 4pm. They typically don’t open again until 8pm or perhaps even later. What a diverse continent we live on: there are parts of Scandinavia where most restaurants have already closed by the time any restaurants in Spain have even opened!

So we were deeply starving by the time we settled on TripAdvisor’s “#2 of 3 restaurants in Boca de Huergano”. Oh. My. Heck. Our burger buns were so stale that they actually crunched like a Farley’s rusk, and the meat was so thoroughly cooked dry that I have never used the phrase “gagged it down” to describe eating more accurately. Four reviews on TripAdvisor, all 5 stars. Friends and family? Surely not! You’ll be glad to hear that when we abandoned them half-eaten and stumbled back into our hotel at 10:15pm they were still serving food and gave us some much more edible fayre.

In the mountains

In the mountains


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