Travelling Omnomnivore

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Travel inspiration 2: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe aka Dragonstone

The moment I saw Dragonstone on TV, I knew I’d been there. The small hermitage that sits atop the island in real life had been replaced with a much more imposing fortress befitting the Mother of Dragons, but there was no mistaking the distinctive craggy outline and that zigzag pathway leading up to the top.

This was my first view of the island and Gaztelugatxe Doniene, a fairly unassuming church dedicated to John the Baptist:
IMG_2637

Here it is digitally re-imagined for Game of Thrones:

Dragonstone-7x03-1

Image taken from this article

I think you’ll agree that the steep and narrow walkway is rather memorable. How glad I am that we visited long before the TV series will no doubt popularise this tiny island and cause it to become overrun with fans wanting to walk in the footsteps of Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. Instead, when we went there in 2005, there were only a handful of others.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe 2

The fact that there weren’t crowds of visitors jostling for space made it a very pleasant walk up to the little church, which dates back to the 9th or 10th century. Legend has it that once you’ve made the someewhat arduous climb up the 231 steps to the top, you can ring the bell three times and make a wish.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxeko Doniene

We detoured to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe on a 3 week road trip around Spain. This particular portion of the trip saw us driving from Saragossa to Bilbao and then Segovia. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is situated on the northern coast of Spain along the Bay of Biscay, about 35km and roughly a 1 hour drive from Bilbao. Not exactly near, but definitely worth it to see the rugged cliff faces and arches that have been carved over the years by the crashing waves.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe 4

It wasn’t easy driving around Spain, especially back in the days when GPS was still a fairly new technology, but I sure am glad to have had the opportunity to venture off the beaten path a little with a great bunch of whacky friends. This was also in the days when we were still just getting used to digital photography and hence not in the habit of snapping hundreds of photos in one go, which is why I don’t have that many pictures to share with you.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe 3

I guess this just means that you’ll have to go and check it out for yourself!
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe 5

Have you ever road tripped around Spain? What other hidden gems have you uncovered? What other TV shows or movies have you watched recently that immediately reminded you of a place you’ve been to?

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This entry was posted on January 12, 2018 by in Spain, Travels and tagged , , , , , , .
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