Stupendous Northern Spain Part 4: Celtigos

Q: Where is Celtigos?

A: Really, really far from pretty much everywhere else.

We went to Celtigos mainly because it seemed like our best shot at staying right on a very quiet beach during our time in Spain. About that, we were not wrong. Northern Spain in mid-May isn’t crowded at the best of times. Throw in a world slowly recovering from a devastating pandemic, iffy weather, and weekdays, and you’ve got a recipe for not-much-going-on.

Our little house, seen through the trees from the hills above

That was fine by us. It was a further three hours’ drive from the Cares Gorge to get to our holiday rental, a slightly-too-big-for-us three bedroom with two different lofts, a lovely outdoor eating space that we couldn’t ever quite use because it was either too cold or blasted by sun, two stunning beaches just out the door, and a whole lotta nothin’ else.

So, why was this stupendous? Honestly, it wasn’t as physically amazing as the Picos, or as pop-culture relevant as Gaztelugatxe, but there’s just… something about a deserted beach flanked by cliffs that gets me every time. And we ended up making it to the real northernmost point in Spain, which was pretty dramatic. It’s a point with sheer cliffs off to either side, and a trail that keeps going north until you decide to either stop or fall into the ocean.

Can’t get any more north than this and still be in Spain!

We cooked a bunch – biscuits and pancake breakfasts a couple of mornings and a bit of fun with a decent charcoal grill a couple of nights.

Me and Fiona, doing what comes naturally in Celtigos

We did have two funny idiots-in-Spain moments here, though. The first was on a day where we decided to walk across the beach to the village of Espasante. It’s a fun walk, and you have to cliff-scramble using fixed ropes at one point. Most of the places in the village were closed down when we got there, but a little bar was open and it was around lunchtime, so we walked in hoping for a drink and some tapas.

Ropin’ up a cliff

“No food,” said the bartender, “only drinks.” We shrugged and ordered a couple of ciders and sat down to figure out what to do next.

After a few minutes, the bartender came by with a plate of bread and chorizo sausages. Oh, wow – I guess they did have food? Julie took the plate she offered, and we chowed down. The bartender looked at us oddly.

Don’t do this. Tasted good, though

A few minutes later she came out with a plate of cheese, and kinda-pointedly did not offer us any. We watched as the couple at the next table thanked her, and each took one piece of cheese off the plate. Just one. Oh.

So if you’re at a little bar in northern Spain and the bartender offers you a plate of gratis food with your drinks, note that the plates are for the whole bar, not just for you. We paid for our drinks and left, feeling somewhat silly.

Moment number two: After a couple of days, we noticed that something was going on in the village of Celtigos, just up the single-track road from us. “Village” is a strong word for Celtigos – it’s basically a church with some houses around it. But there were dudes setting up a tent on Friday night, and a catering van, and an enterprising person selling kids’ toys, bottles of water, things like that. We didn’t inquire – we figured it was a Sunday church thing.

We were wrong. We went to bed at our normal Spain time on Saturday night – around 11:30, about an hour after it got dark. The weather had turned a bit sour, and lightning had been flashing around all evening. Right as I drifted off to sleep, I heard something loud that… wasn’t thunder. Julie and I both woke up for real a little after midnight.

“Is that… music?”

It sure was. The preparations we had been seeing up in the church courtyard were not for a Sunday service. They were for a Saturday night party, which started at midnight, in a town with a population that I’ll swear was less than 100. It went on until four in the morning. Because of course it did, because it’s Spain. Even small-town-supposedly-buttoned-up-northern-Spain can rock out pretty late.

And that was it. A wrap for us in this lovely part of the country. We’ll leave you with this picture from our last night, when we got a sunset for the ages, over the Atlantic. Thanks again for having us, northern Spain. We can’t wait to come back.

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