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San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Dragonstone from the Game of Thrones

Hello again! Today I want to talk to you about a place that's become very famous over the last few years. It's San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a small island which is connected via some stone bridges that make access possible. The island that has inconsistent land underfoot, has a shrine at the top. There's a legend that says if you touch the bell in this shrine three times and make a wish, it'll come true.


For some reason this place has become very well known. It's located in Bermeo, in the Basque Country. Its fame is due to it being the location to film various scenes in the famous serious Game of Thrones. It name in the series is Dragonstone. Whoever has been to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, can identify the original characteristics of this place when watching the series. To be able to adapt this location to the big screen, the editing turned the tiny shrine into a huge castle, ignoring the small detail of also incorporating dragons flying arout the island. Even so, they managed to stay faithful to the reality of this stone walkway that you have to climb up to get to the highest point. What stands out about this walkway is its zigzag shape that important characters such as Tyrion or Khaleesi would walk up. Bearing all of this in mind, it's not at all strange to see a lot of tourists that visit here are Game of Thrones fans.


I couldn't find a better moment to recite the following phrase: reality is better than fiction. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is truly much better in person, live and direct. The photos and videos aren't loyal to reality. Not even this small shrine set in a fantasy world where dragons, giants, white walkers and witches exist can beat the real and authentic version.

I was lucky enough to be able to come when I went back to Galicia by car after travelling to San Sebastian. The weather wasn't great that day. The clouds were a dark blue colour, it rained and we were wearing coats and long trousers. It was the beginning of September. Even so, I think that San Juan de Gaztelugatxe actually looks better in bad weather. The imperfect walkway up to the top where you'll find the shrine, the Cantabrian Sea crashing wildly, the rocky landscape around you and the green nature that envelopes the whole scene all shine a lot brighter in this wilder environment. The thing I like most about this place is that at one end of the island, the rock forms two little arches that the sea violently flows through. It wouldn't be ridiculous to say that some of these landscapes remind you of some parts of Iceland.


I walked all the way up whilst I got drenched by the rain. I arrived pretty tired and soaked, but it didn't matter. The views were worth it: an infinite horizon. Also, thanks to the bad weather there were a lot less tourists there and we were the only ones who stayed there, the ones who didn't care about a bit of rain.


To get to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, we parked our car in a car park that's a long way before the shrine. You have to walk a lot and the mistake we made was to let Google Maps guide us. As you know, Google Maps doesn't know all the possible routes to take, so it took us on foot to a really long road, and we took ages to get to where we wanted to be. The most frustrating thing was we lost a lot of time. After visiting it and touching the bell three times, we realised that there was a type of straight hiking route, all uphill with loads of people going up and down it. A shortcut that Google Maps didn't recognise. You have to pay attention to find it because if those people weren't walking down this path, we wouldn't have realised where it was as it was covered by trees. It really shortens the trip and leaves you right where you park the car. The only bad part is that with rain, the ground turns to mud and our shoes (mine were brand spanking new, and white), when they had completed their objective of taking me up Dragonstone, they were ready to be discarded. Therefore, the advice that I'll give you onwards is that if you go, use this shortcut as you'll have plenty of time and the ground is a lot better.


When we arrived, it was already late, around 5pm. We were really hungry so we went to a restaurant near there to order something to eat. They told us that the kitchen was closed so it wasn't possible to make us anything. FInally, they gave us some pintxos (Basque tapas) that they had left over, and some desserts that they had already prepared. Then we swapped our boots for some they had in their cellar. After such an exhausting trip, we needed to fill ourselves up.

In short, I loved San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and I hope to go back, sooner rather than later. The views from this place and of it were amazing. The way up is a bit difficult so if you're not in shape, I would recommend getting in some good cardio sessions to practise and then do this winding walkway. You'll have to climb a lot of steps and there are parts towards the top where the pathway is falling away. If you want, take your time with it. Don't go when the day's at its hottest, so you can enjoy this place the way it should be enjoyed. In conclusion, another incomparable landscape that makes you want to visit the rest of Northern Spain. I believe the phrase "you don't need to go far... " more and more every time.


And that's it for today. You can leave me a comment about your opinions on the content, photos, place, etc. I hope you liked it. Thank you for reading.

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