Saying goodbye was always something that I found tragic. Tragic and sad and heartbreaking. I had to say a lot of goodbyes in my life and the big, final goodbyes also made all the small goodbyes really hard for me. Life has taught me that most of the goodbyes are final ones, so when it came to saying goodbye to our three travel friends in Biarritz, I was sad. It had defined the trip so much to be a convoy of two vans, to be safe together, to stick together and support each other, to take care of each other and to share everything, even though you didn’t know each other before that. One of the best things that came along was to see how strong the vanlife community is, how much it brings people together to travel that way, how tolerant and open-minded those people are. So when we had to separate because of irreconcilable differences (the boys wanted to go back north and we wanted to go to Spain), I was sad, because I knew a part of the trip that was very special was over and one could never bring it back. But then I thought again and tried to exchange the sadness for happiness, because wow, what a great time did we have together, how many good conversations and how much fun and laughter and how much trust did we put into each other, into complete strangers, and wow, I mean, how amazing is that? And it made me happy that I was able to experience that. Yes, the time is over and won’t ever come back, but the good memories that are left will nourish my heart forever. So, maybe for the first time ever, I was able to see a goodbye as a good thing and was able to trust the process and let life do the rest and make sure we would see each other again.
So, it was Tina and me, two girls on their way to Spain and still 10 days left…
What you have to know about driving in Spain is, that a) petrol is SO cheap and b) not all the highways are charged, but only the ones that are called „AP“, the „A“s are free of charge, which is useful to know, because for a couple of days we avoided the highways completely and had to drive all those really curvy, really steep roads up and donw the hills and mountains, and sometimes that was fun, because you get to have amazing views, but most of the time it’s just really exhausting and drinks up all your gas and patience. So, take the As, avoid the APs and you’ll be fine.
Our first stop in Spain was San Sébastian, which is, no doubt, a beautiful place, but it was maybe 36 degrees and we didn’t feel like another city (after two days in Biarritz), so we decided to move on and I have to say, we were a bit disappointed, because for quite a while we didn’t really feel like the north of Spain was that much of the promised land everybody had said. Until we arrived in…
Stop 14 – Playa de Laga
… Playa de Laga. Playa de Laga is a beach with a parking and a little beach shop / café and is simply a beauty. It’s located in between forested mountains and cliffs with perfect white sand and super clear water and, as if that wasn’t enough, waves. I mean, what more could you ask for. It is also allowed to camp there (or at least noone cares), so you will meet a lot of people and we found a parking space right next to the beach entrance, maybe 30 meters away from the beach – it was paradise. We spent two light-hearted days there, the sun burning down on us, the ocean making sure we cool down in between, just doing nothing and enjoying the moment. I did not only write my happiest song so far at Playa de Laga, I also made my first handcrafted dreamcatcher. It was somehow a weird intuition that suggested I should start building dreamcatchers (or my version of it) out of seashells and sticks and wooden pearls and make them real colourful and happy. So that’s what I did and it worked. To me it’s the best feeling to create something and see the result in the end. Happy days.
Get there: Drive to Gernika-Lumo and keep your eyes open for the sign that says „Playas“, follow that road along the river mouth, at some point it will kind of go down around a corner and you will already see the beach from up there and the beach parking, that’s your spot / toilets (open till 8pm), beach shower, water, little shop + a woman who sells freshly-baked bread out of her van in the morning (so good!!).
Stop 15 – Galizano
That we found our spot up on the cliffs of Galizano was more of a coincidence. Originally we wanted to go to Somo, which we did, and we liked it there. It’s somehow a real surfer place with loads of surfshops and restaurants and bars and it’s really busy and lively and the beach is really long and apparently really good for surfing, too. There are vans parked in the streets everywhere and we tried to find a parking space, but we couldn’t because it was Saturday night and I feel like a lot of people came there to go out and stuff, so we had to find something else. As we drove along a small coastway, we saw quite a lot of vans parked up on a cliff and we were like: that’s where we need to go, that looks like our home. So we made our way there, driving up the hill through an eucalyptus forest, and „tadaaaaa“, best view and a little trail down to the beach.
Unfortunately in the middle of the night we woke up because of the local youth driving around the van in their cars (which was really dangerous because we parked right next to the cliff) and I don’t know if that was supposed to be some kind of dare or just their way of spending their Saturdays, but it was scary, so we moved on the next day.
Get there: It’s still a very nice spot, though. If you want to go there, go to Galizano and there is a surfschool (Calle de la Canal 49), it’s a white and blue building, make a right on to the tiny road and follow that road through the eucalyptus forest / no toilet, no shower, no water.
Stop 16 – Liencres
Moving further towards the end of August and further to the west into Cantabria you could notice the changes… maybe because the summer slowly moved towards it’s end or because the north of Spain is clearly different from the south of France, but nature got rougher, the weather got less consistent, the evenings and nights got colder, the days got shorter and we got a little bit nervous, because the end of the trip came closer. We used a rainy day to try to find methylated spirit for our cooking station which turned out to be the most challenging part of the whole trip, who would have thought?! It took us two days and the visit of 6 (!!!) different shops and one pharmacy to find the right thing. Listen, friends, if you have a cooking station that runs on spirit (which most T4 Westfalia have I think), make sure, that you bring enough. We used up around 1,5 liters a week. In case you run out of it: in Spanish it’s called „alcohol de quemar“ and you have to buy ethanol and not methanol and the only shop that had it was Leroy Merlin, just so you know and don’t have to spend two days to find it… you’re welcome!
Anyway, rainy days on the road are somehow cozy but just until everything is wet and you can’t really get it dry and you can’t really do anything either (except for dancing naked in the rain of course) – so we just cooked up some real good chili con carne, had a glass of red wine and went to bed. Another day, another sunrise.
Liencres is a really nice spot located in a natural park, with two different beaches and really nice dunes, to go for a walk or running or exploring, both of them are good for surfing, too and there are surf schools and board hires as well as a beach bar that has a nice vibe to it.
If you stay there for the night you will have to know that the police checks the vans in the morning, when we were there they took pictures of the number plates, but nothing happened, I think if you stay longer than one night, you might get a ticket or something, but for one night it was fine.
Get there: Go through the village of Liencres and then make a right towards the ocean, you will get to a parking, don’t go down to the end, but make a right again (when you are already on the parking and take that part of the lot, it’s much nicer / beach shower, toilets in the beach bar, but you’ll have to buy something.
Stop 17 – San Vicente de la Barquera
As I already mentioned, we got a little bit nervous as the end of the trip was approaching… after more than 4 weeks on the road, living in the van and inhaling all these different experiences and places and sunsets and sunrises and being like a sponge that absorbs all of it and feeling so alive and connected to nature and the higher sense of being, I couldn’t really imagine just turning around, driving back to Berlin and go back to normal. So we were hoping for the last couple of days to find a place that would give us some more peace and reassurance that we did everything right and everything we could to make the most of the time we had in the van and we found that place in San Vicente de la Barquera, it was truely heaven on earth for us. A small parking*, a long beach, pink sunsets and a nightsky to remember. We parked with the Nash’s bum facing the ocean, so every morning when I woke up, I opened the tailgate and watched the waves breaking, the beach literally five meters away. We surfed, we read books, we sang, we chilled, we slept, we ate lots, we talked, we remained silent… we gave ourself the time and space to be, to follow our inner voice and our needs, to think about the whole journey, what we experiened, what we learned, who we met, where we went, what we saw, to process the input and let the lessons and the knowledge we gained about life and ourselves sink in. Our rhythm of living was more meditational these days as we knew we had nowhere left to go, we arrived and those were the days to collect as many memories, as many colours, as many sounds and smells as possible to take with you, to keep deep down in your heart, to be stored for the dark days, for winter, for the hard days, for the heavy times, for we all know they will come. And that’s what we did and that’s all we did in San Vicente, it will always be a special place to me, I didn’t feel so connected in a long time. I also sold my first dreamcatcher there, maybe that’s a sign?!
I think it’s important to give yourself the opportunity to say goodbye. For us, the time in San Vicente was our slow goodbye to the whole trip, to a wonderful trip that I will never forget. It has taught me to trust again, even if you’ve been disappointed (for example, after someone broke into the van), it has taught me to let go of expectations, but wait with open arms and an open heart, it has taught me to make lots of new friends and rely on each other, even though you have never met before, it has taught me to stay calm when you face challenges and allow yourself to be euphoric when something good happens, it has taught me that it’s OK to be happy for no reason and satisfied with less and that you always need to follow your intuition and allow life to surprise you, it has taught me that plans are necessary, but that you sometimes have to get over your plans and that’s when the magic happens, it has taught me a lot of things, but most of all it has taught me another time that dreams do come true if you own a dreamcatcher van!
That’s it, my friends. Thanks for joining me and Nash, Miriam, Tina, Birk, Basti and Marc on our adventure, I hope I can contribute something to your next trip with this entry and if not, then maybe at least inspire you to chase your dreams. Namaste.
*To get to the parking, go to San Vicente de la Barquera, drive along the river and then cross the bridge at the roundabout, look out for the campsite, drive past that, then up the really steep road, make a left, follow the road through the eucalyptus forest, at some point there will be a parking between the road and the ocean on the left side – that’s it, I know there is a „no camping“ sign, don’t mind that. The beach is called Playa de Gerra / toilets (until 8.30 pm), beach shower, water, fresh bread in the morning.