IT’S ALL SLEEPY TOWNS, COFFEE BARS AND TORTILLAS.
505 km / 314 mi
7,120 m / 23,360 ft
Arriving by ferry in Santander, we cycled through northeast Spain into the Pyrenees at Col du Pierre Saint Martin
On leaving Santander, we unexpectedly cycled over the Cantabrian Mountains, which is the ride you can see after the map below. It remained our biggest elevation gain and biggest single climb (934 m) until 9 months later in India.
Mostly wet with torrential downpours, causing us to take refuge in daily budget-blowing hotels. Locals said it was heavier than usual for that time of year; that’s not what we wanted to hear.
The Pyrenees climb: Col de Pierre St-Martin. We climbed it from the Spanish side. The French side would be considerably harder.
We cooked all our meals, usually veggie pasta with a tin of tomatoes. Supermarkets were cheap, but there weren't that many of them on our route. We had to plan to find one. Siestas also meant that nearly everything was shut in the afternoon, particularly in small towns/villages. They were like ghost towns. We tried to stock up on a morning for lunchtime.
We filled up at hotels or campsites. Also, there was a water fountain in every town/village square we passed. We never had to buy water.
We might have struggled to find supermarkets, but we were never far away from a coffee bar. They would be full of men all throughout the day – we never saw one woman in them. A single coffee cost €1.
Campsite were basic and often overpriced for what you got. We stayed at the worst campsite of the whole trip in Spain. The showers were dirty, there was dog poop and rubbish all over the pitches and a cat pissed all over our tent; it stunk. The few hotels we stayed at (due to torrential rain), were very expensive…
We only wild camped once, just off a cycle path. There were a couple of people around while we were making dinner, but we had no problem. They were gone by the time we put the tent up. We wished we had been more ballsy to wild camp more, but as this was our first country, we were still super nervous.
We were predominately on main roads, yet weirdly they were super quiet and super smooth.
Very courteous. They'd pull right out into the other lane to pass us.
We caught a Brittany ferry from Portsmouth, UK to Santander, Spain. We booked a cabin as it took 24 hours. We booked it about 6 months before we left and paid £265.
Our UK SIM-only plans worked perfectly at no extra charge (GiffGaff & Vodafone).
Vias Verdes – Lists all disused railway lines that have been converted into cycle paths. Some are pointless short, but we managed to find one that covered most of a day’s ride.
EuroVelo – Download all the EuroVelo GPX and KML files.
Komoot – navigation app, which we found really good for routing throughout Europe.
Camping.Info by POIbase – great app for finding campsites.
Plan accordingly for the daily siesta.
Everything shuts on a Sunday.