We left our beautiful lakeside camp four days ago and decided to come to the mountains. The weather has been consistently wet, grey, and cold – but after a lot of grumbling and complaining, we made the decision to accept it and enjoy the hell out of it anyway. We drove 3 hours from Tordesillas to Camaleno – a magical place nestled into the mountains with rivers, valleys, and a dramatic backdrop of the jagged, snow-capped Picos de Europa. Coming here was one of the best decisions we have made on this trip. This place is jaw-droppingly beautiful. It feels as if we have crossed over into Austria or Switzerland. When you think of Spain, you think beautiful beaches, warm weather, olive trees and ancient architecture. You don’t consider landscapes like this. The land here looks as if it’s been touched by God. Fields of green grass and spring flowers, budding apple and cherry trees, flowing rivers and streams, a chorus of bird songs. The forecast called for snow so before we arrived we bought a little heater for 30 euros who we’ve named Harold. Harold the bringer of warm joy. It’s amazing how much this little purchase has improved our living experience in Billie. Having warmth in the van is a feeling that has long been forgotten since our gas heater broke. We’ve grown used to dealing with a new level of cold uncomfortableness. With Harold, we’re more than happy to stay on a campground and spoil ourselves with unlimited electricity, hot showers, and actual toilets.

We’ve found a beautiful family-owned campsite that's a 10-minute walk to the idyllic town of Potes, known as one of the most beautiful villages in the region of Cantabria. The charming buildings and sites date back to the 14th century. There is a big river running through the middle of the town. This area, along with other regions in the North of Spain make Orujo, a spirit that’s been distilled since the Middle Ages using the same traditional techniques. It’s a type of brandy made from the flesh and skin of the grapes after pressing the fruit for wine making. The O.G stuff is supposed to be like rocket fuel, but they make countless other flavours that are milder and sweeter. We sampled a few and settled on a delicious café flavoured Orujo that tastes just like Baileys only stronger and without the milk.  We’ve been spending our evenings cosied up with Harold, eating yummy food, listening to old classics, and warming our bellies with Orujo. It feels like Christmas time.

Every morning we wake up to a blanket of white snow covering everything. I went for a walk and watched a group of horses and foals gallop in a field as huge chunks of snowflakes fell all around me. It looked like something out of a dream. I’ve been lucky to experience a lot of snow since I came to Germany, but it absolutely never gets old. I still turn into a child every single time. Aside from it's beauty, what I love most is the silence snow brings. There are no sounds other then that sound of the snowflakes landing. No birds, no cars, no nothing. I had never experienced this kind of peace and stillness until I saw the snow, and I haven't found it anywhere else. 

There is a popular pilgrimage that runs through Potes, called the Camino Lebaniego. It’s 87 km’s in total and the final destination is the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana. It’s situated on a hill only a 20-minute walk from our camp. We went for a walk to the monastery, not knowing much about its history and soon discovered that inside the centuries old church was a part of the left side of the True Cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on. The ancient piece of wood was encased in a beautiful gold-plated cross with a huge amethyst gemstone in the middle. It was positioned so you could see two small holes where Jesus’s right hand was nailed to it. Turns out this small piece of wood has been protected and held here at this monastery for over 1200 years. It’s said to be the largest surviving piece of the cross, larger than what’s held at the Vatican. I felt almost guilty at the fact that we literally stumbled upon it by chance.

Who knows about it’s true origins, but the sheer age of this relic and the lengths that people have gone to protect it is mind blowing and incredibly humbling. I am not a religious person, but I still felt the weight of its significance for the millions of human lives that find peace, meaning and a stronger sense of faith from being in its presence.

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