Tuesday’s weather was a touch disappointing with frequent rain showers and not much sunshine – as a result we stayed close to the van for much of the day, though we did manage to take an afternoon walk into Las Arenas which, in common with most small Spanish towns at that time of day, was shut. Where the Spanish go in the afternoon must be one of the world’s great mysteries – surely they can’t all be taking siestas?
In the evening we strolled down to a local bar for a quick local sideria. The local custom seems to be that cider is poured in such a way as to create a head of froth, which we assume must improve the taste somehow. In some restaurants waiters hold the bottle aloft and make a show of tipping the bottle from a great height, taking pride in their ability to catch the stream of liquid without spilling a drop. As we were in an especially classy establishment, however, our hostess went one better and provided us with a two foot tall wooden model of a waiter which, on the push of a button, squirted the contents of our bottle of cider across the table, filling our glasses with unerring accuracy. You just can’t beat style!
This morning we drove the 6km up to Poncebos and took the funicular up to the tiny hamlet of Bulnes which sits high in the mountains at the foot of the 2,519m Naranjo de Bulnes, one of the highest peaks in the Picos. The funicular is a remarkable bit of engineering as it runs entirely inside the mountain for some 2,200m, lifting visitors and provisions some 450m up to Bulnes . The hamlet looks as though it hasn’t changed much in the last few hundred years – apart, that is, from the bars and Coca Cola adverts. Unfortunately the clouds refused to allow us a clear view of the mountains which was a tad frustrating after forking out for what I suspect must be Spain’s most expensive 16 minute return railway journey.