There are some days that we look back on that are truly memorable. This was one of those days. Both of these landmarks have been on our push-pinned Google map for a long time, so when we were finally seeing them in person it was pretty exciting.

Our original plan was to visit Playa de Las Catedrales on Friday. We had arrived to the area Thursday evening and then tried to register via their official website but all the Friday tickets were full. This actually turned out to be a blessing because access to the sea caves is only available at low tide and on Friday the low tide was before sunrise – not great for taking pictures. Fortunately, the next day low tide was in the morning and there were openings available!

Playa de Las Catedrales

After a short walk from the parking area, and verification of our registration…

…We were walking the beach and marveling at the natural arches, towering walls, and sea caves of Playa de Las Catedrales.

The beach was a bit crowded but not so much that we couldn’t snap a few patiently timed photos of the natural beauty of this area without people.

Playa de las Cate-drales, or Beach of the Cathedrals, is a fitting name. The natural arches and caves tower above visitors like flying buttresses of large Catholic Cathedrals. While most of the people stayed on the beach area, we explored each of the sea-caves. Bring shorts and some water sandals, because you’re going to get wet if you venture beyond the main beach.

The beach area to the west of the entrance is much less crowded but didn’t have nearly as many sea caves.

Shortly after sunrise, the clouds began to lift and we enjoyed some breakfast at a park overlooking the beach. It was only 8 AM and we’ve already had a wonderful day! However, it wasn’t over yet. We still had another destination in mind…

We hopped on our trusty mules and rode 200 km (125 miles) south towards the Province of León and to the famous reddish hills of Las Médulas.

Deviating for Dirt

Chantil and I often joke that we can’t have a successful day of riding adventure motorcycles if we limit ourselves to pavement. Fortunately, we discovered a dirt road that looked like it might offer some promising photograph opportunities.

Which it did! Adventure motorcycles ALWAYS look better on a dirt trail and packed with various bags for an extended journey – muddy shoes hanging from the back and all!

There is something wonderfully satisfying about green hills that stretch to the ends of the horizon, dotted with shadows from puffy clouds that float along in the wind-stream.

We were recently asked in an interview on Adventure Rider Radio if documenting our journey changed the way we travel. I think, in general, we stick to our plan of experiencing places we want to see, but we do sometimes deviate to take photographs of our motorcycles for future articles we publish with UPSHIFT Online.

This photograph, and many others from this post, were used for the article on Northern Spain, France, and Italy (pages 110-143).

Towards the end of the afternoon, we found a quiet campsite, unpacked our heavy tail bags, set up our tent and sleeping bags, and then rode just a short distance to do some hiking around Senda de Las Médulas.

Las Médulas

There are various hiking trails throughout the park that offer views of the surrounding hills, and of course…

…the incredible red striped rocks, blue skies, and lush green vegetation that make this area such a unique place to visit!

Las Médulas is a UNESCO world heritage site and was the largest open-pit gold mine of the Roman Era.

Mining began during the late 1st century AD and nearly 3.6 million pounds of gold has been extracted from this site over a 250 year period.

These beautiful rock formations were actually created by a destructive mining technique known as Ruina Muntium, or wrecking of the mountains.

This form of mining uses large quantities of water to undermine the mountain and cause large sections to collapse, thus revealing the reddish colored minerals. 

After taking pictures of the amazing geology, we descended into the forest.

This part of our hike was actually a lot of fun since we imagined we were in a creepy forest with trees that looked like they wanted to throw dead apples at us. We even found a bandit hideout within the trunk of an old tree. BTW, Coronavirus face masks can also double as bandit masks!

It was definitely a day to remember. We experienced some of the best tourist sites of northern Spain, and some wonderful motorcycle riding, all in a single awesome day!

Episode Video

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Join us next episode as we get up-close, and personal with an Osborn Bull and then cross into our next country of France. 

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15 Aug 2020

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