Roman Malanke

Couch Surfing in Northern Spain

Last night my girlfriend and I flew back from La Coruña to Barcelona after having done a wonderful 9-day journey through the northern Spain. While on the road we tried to go fast enough to see many things, but slow enough to really enjoy them. And I would say we’ve achieved that balance: we’ve got to know six different autonomous communities and still had time for beach relaxation and, most importantly, plenty of sleep.

Our way ran through Cataluña, Aragón, País Vasco, Cantabria, Asturias and finally Galicia. Without realizing it we almost exactly repeated one of the pilgrimage routes of the famous “Camino de Santiago”, although instead of doing it by foot we drove a brand-new Mercedes Class-A rent-a-car.

The really interesting part of this trip was that on it we had our first couch-surfing experience, which turned out to be the most pleasant. In case you haven’t heard, the term “couch surfing” refers to the idea of staying in someone’s house or apartment in a spare bedroom or on a spare couch as a way of mutual cultural exchange. People interested in such kind of travel can find each other on special social networking sites, the biggest of which is I had been registered on it for a while and when planning this vacation I reached out to other members living in towns that I wanted to visit. With a little email and phone coordination I was able to arrange our stay with locals in Pamplona, Bilbao, Santander and Oviedo. To balance social and private we planned for staying in hotels at the first and the last destinations on our journey: Barcelona and La Coruña. This turned out to be a very smart approach.

All CouchSurfing people we met were friendly, hospitable and generous for their time. It wouldn’t be possible to see and experience that many things on our own. Guided by locals we saw the most beautiful natural landscapes, visited the most authentic “barrios”, tried the most famous food and drinks, and learned the most interesting facts about every place we’ve been to. This was the way we discovered the delicious “pintxos”, learned the right way to pour and drink cider, and tried the amazing combination of Cabrales cheese with quince marmalade. There were many more impressions, some of which are captured in this photo album.

After such a positive experience I’m certain that we’ll have at least one more Spanish vacation soon. But that one will be southbound, along the Mediterranean coast, all the way to down to Gibraltar and the pearls of Andalucía. And now I’m off to enjoy the last three sunny days in Barcelona. To begin with we’ll try to find a good place that serves “chocolate con churros” for a breakfast.