Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Spain, May/June 2018. Day 24

Good evening dear blog, almost my final entry for this trip as I write in the middle of the Bay of Biscay en route to Portsmouth. And what an excellent penultimate day it has been.  We awoke to rain yet again at the hotel but by the time we hah breakfast it had cleared up allowing us to load the car in the dry
  El Colonial is a superb family run hotel; great food, clean and comfortable room and very friendly and helpful owners.
Once packed we set out for El Castillo cave, just 10 miles away.  We soon found that Altamira yesterday was an excellent preparatory lesson for the genuine article.  We arrived nicely in time for our prebooked tour at 11.20.  Like Altamira the huge cave entrance would have been lived in as a cave shelter by palaeolithic hunter gatherers.  This entrance today is covered by a massive canopy which serves as reception and ticket office.  Our tour was in Spanish and we even understood some of it aided by a fellow American visitor who spoke better Spanish than us and translated.  The cave itself was well worth the visit with huge cathedral-like galleries and staggering stalactite and stalagmite formations.  The star of the show though were the paintings, particularly the hand stencils for which the cave is famous. There are also bison and deer and abstract symbolic markings.  Some of these are 50,000 years old and as fresh as if they were done yesterday.  I find this absolutely mind blowing and incredibly moving. But is also fascinating to realise that these people were so similar to us: intelligent  artistic and with a well-developed social organisation.  An absolutely fabulous visit.
Afterwards we enjoyed coffee and cake in the village before an easy drive back to Bilbao on the motorway.  We arrived in perfect timing and sailed on time at 5.15.  It was, of course, beer o'clock.  A good night's sleep now.  In the morning We should pass close to Brittany.

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