Cóbreces Cantabria Spain : October 2017

We drove along the coast of Northern Spain from the province of Asturias to the province of Cantabria. The landscape changes to rolling hills and green pastures with glimpses of the coast here and there.

We are headed to an aire that we had found on one of our apps in the tiny village of Cóbreces. The aire was a newly built parking area in the middle of the most beautiful piece of farmland. The facilities were cute and totally clean and spotless. We were helped by lady who owns it, and I must say she was a really good hostess and really hard working; cutting the lawn and weeding and cleaning up all around her property.

We walked into the village for our usual evening stroll admiring the church on the hill from afar. Up close it was in a sad state and looked abandoned, next door was the Cistercian Santa Maria monastery of Viaceli Cobreces. This is still very much in use and we saw some of the “novices” returning home from the beach. Funny to see them in habits but with fashionable trainers on their feet. How times have changed…..(insert sigh)

There wasn’t much to see in the village so we trundled back to make some dinner with the amazing 360 view of cows, cemetery, village,farmhouses and fields. There were also pigs…! Yes you know how we’ve talked before about so much pork in Spain and yet you never see a pig? Well here in our last few days we see pigs and piglets, and they live right in front of us. We took so many pics to prove to ourselves they were real. Pigs are quite territorial as when we got closer to see the piglet, the mommy pig got really angry and looked as if she would be happy to storm us. Ok, they were cute, bit smelly, but cute.

On a little tourist notice board in the campsite we discovered that there is a Gaudi designed building open to the public in the area. Chris looked it up and it seemed it was only 15 min away. Wow that’s unusual as you don’t really see much Gaudi outside of Barcelona. In fact this building is one of only three outside of Catalonia. For those of you who don’t really know about Antoni Gaudi, he is the world famous, very talented and creative genius who designed some of the most amazing architecture in Spain, most especially well known for the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Both Chris and I love his work, so we decided it was not to be missed.

Bolao, Old Mill , Cóbreces

We set off in the morning towards Comillas (and Gaudi) the town next to Cóbreces, but first we drive the short distance down to the coast to admire the magnificent view as well as the Bolao (old water mill). I don’t know any history(lucky for you), but it’s a ruin now with a pretty water fall cascading onto the rocks and into the sea. Lots and lots of photo opportunities to be had.

On we went and followed Tomtom towards Comillas. We park at one end of town and walk in to explore the centre. Tomtom says the drive to the museum is still a couple of km so we decide to drive there later. What a surprise Comillas is. A very old and very beautiful town which it turns out still boasts a real life Marquis!

Comillas has a number of old and fascinating buildings, some of which were part of a university that was subsequently relocated to Madrid. The picturesque town centre has so many restaurants and bars we guess it must be a very popular town in season for Spanish holiday makers. Whilst we are walking around we see a sign for El Capricho(the Gaudi house), turns out if you walk through town it only takes 5min to get there.
I could write an entire blog post about the villa (built in 1883-1885), it was really interesting, the museum was well laid out and had lots of good interesting info explaining the thought process behind the house.

El Capricho de Gaudi

I won’t go into tooo much detail, but it was built for a bachelor who lived in Cuba mostly, but built this house to retire to. Sadly he died before he actually got to live in the house, of some unknown disease, and the house fell into disrepair. In 1988 it was restored and repaired and they are still working on it. In a nutshell , it was built for this bachelor and so its very much a single person house, not for family I mean. It’s built in a U shape with a conservatory/greenhouse in the middle and what I loved the most is that it is built to follow the sun. So the sun comes in the conservatory and warms up the house, then the sun moves to the bedroom and wakes up the owner. Next it goes to the bathroom, which also has amazing stained glass windows with lots of symbols and meanings. And then into the study and onto the sitting room. The sun ends on the dining room and the smoking lounge where one would have the best view of sundown.

I seriously could go on and on about the clever balconies with chairs facing the house not the outside so you can admire the beautiful tiles that clad the entire house. So then lets talk about the ceramic tiles, wow! They are all flowers and leaves glazed in bright colours. Mostly sunflowers which relates to the following of the sun theme. Apart from these breath taking tiles, it has moulding and carvings and all decorative tiles everywhere.

We took time to admire the building from all directions and try to see the nuances of design and symbolism which is Gaudis unique style. He was only 30 when he designed it.The highlight of the building being a minaret. Even the attic is an architectural masterpiece, the servants got to live in a space that was designed with as much care as the rest of the house. It also has a grotto , cos of course every bachelor needs one of those? I said I would not go on and on, but seriously its a must see! Just look a the photo’s we took, all 100 of them. One of my trip highlights!

It was quite late when we left, and we need to get to Bilbao, so we dash off and make our way to our overnight stop in a camper stop high up the mountain overlooking Bilboa, and we even see a glimpse of the most famous architectural masterpiece that put Bilboa on the map. The Guggenheim museum designed by Frank Gehry….but I’m getting ahead of myself and boring you with more facts…

Arriving in Bilbao at sunset

2 more sleeps till we end this trip….but still a lot to tell you..

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