Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The unpronouncable name of San Juan de... what??

When we were organising our #Eurotrip2016, we had nothing planned for sure. We didn't know where and when exactly we were going to get. We didn't book any campsites (which caused a little bit of trouble sometimes), we bought no entrance tickets. In the general idea of our trip, we had a few places we wanted to see and around them I drew a draft plan of our trip. We had just a few places we wanted to see on our way (like six or seven), a few more that would be nice to visit if we manage to, so out of three weeks on the road, is wasn't much. And the one I'll describe in a moment, definitely was one of the few.

I came across it totally by accident. I can't even remember where I read about it first, but it was like a year ago. And I sure knew I wanted to see it. Obviously, I totally forgot its unpronouncable name (and forgot to jot it down, too). When we finally decided to head to Spain, I started searching for it again. I knew it was somewhere on the northern coast of Spain. I kind of associated it with Bilbao, but wasn't sure. I had a picture of it in mind, but there's no search engine (yet) that can read my mind. Or anybody else's. Or is there...? Imagine this (and no, it's not a joke): I spent two hours scanning google maps (I was really desperate!) and searching with any keywords that got to my mind. Finally, I found it (yay for Earth view on google maps). I immediately wrote down the name (yup, still unpronouncable) and, to make sure I have it somewhere, I also e-mailed it to my husband. His reaction? "Please tell me we're going there". My reaction to his reaction? "No, honey, I'm just that bored to spend two hours searching for a place for the sake of searching...". Curtain.

Fast forward, and we're back on our campsite right off Bilbao.

In the morning, I went to the reception to ask for directions. I said (and I quote): "Could you tell me, please, how we can get to... I'm sorry, I can't pronounce it... San Juan de...". That was it. The lady behind the counter immediately knew what I was talking about and said the full name. In no way did it resemble the spelling of the word. Not to me, at least. And I still can't say it. I couldn't repeat it. I can spell it now, though ;)

She said we should drive to Bakio. There, we'd surely find further directions. We got to Bakio and found no further directions. We stopped for a minute right off the beach and simply asked for directions (the views were worth the stop!). It was no big deal, but we had to drive a few kilometres further. We finally got to the car park at the beginning of the trail.

It was much easier to find the car park than to find a free spo. Though we were lucky, again. Somebody was driving out right before us, so we took the freshly emptied spot. The car park was free of charge and totally full. We no longer had to worry about that, though.

We were soon on the trail to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. A small chapel on a tiny islandish rock sticking out of water, with a narrow strip of rocky path leading to it. The trails starts in a forest, so it's mostly shadowed at the beginning. It goes down and is realitevely steep and slippery at places. It's safer to leave flip flops and put on more adequate footwear.

Once you get out of the forest, it still leads down, but it's a bit flatter. Finally, you follow a road for a bit. It takes you to that rocky strip joining the islandish rock with the land. And then to the stairs taking you all the way up to the chapel. There's a toilet (horrible, dirty and stinky) both at the bottom of the stairs, as well as next to the chapel on top. There's also a place to fill up your water bottle. Remember to take a look both to your left and to your right, cause it is definitely worth it.

Once you feel you're ready to climb up the stairs in broad sunlight, you can set off. It's exhausting, especially on a hot, sunny day. The stairs are narrow, so passing by others isn't too comfortable. The climb is worth the effort, though. At least I didn't regret doing it.

The chapel itself is nothing spectacular. You can pull the string to ring the bell, if you like. And... that's basically it. (Oh, you can also smell that there's a toilet next to the chapel. To avoid it, remain on the other side of the chapel, away from its entrance).

But the views of the sea and the coast are amazing. And once there, simply focus on them.

We were just thrilled (some of us in particular ;)) when we realised that we have to get all the way back to the car. And from the chapel we could see what was awaiting us. Some of us especially couldn't wait to get back ;)

It wasn't as bad as it seemed, though. This time, the way up was partly shadowed, which made it a little bit easier to get to the top. And we already had some plans for the rest of the day that helped us keep going, too. It's all about motivation ;)

On the way back to the campsite, we stopped at one of the viewpoints. Why? Cause, well, it was a viewpoint ;) And we could take a picture of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe from a distance. You can clearly see the islandish rock sticking out of water with the chapel on top. And the rocky strip of land connecting the island with the land. It's really there and it looks amazing.

Have you ever been to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe? 
How did you like it?

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  1. Oh this does seem like a wonderful place! I've been to Guadalest in the south of Spain recently and they also had a castle on top of a cliff, however we were in the mountains there and not on the coast. This place seems a lot more dramatic and stunning!

    1. We drove through a large part of Spain, but we didn't get to Guadalest. I bet it was amazing, too.

  2. What a fun and spontaneous trip! Looks like a great time. And those views are stunning!

    1. The views were amazing and we definitely had a great time.