28th March ~ 3rd April
This was a visit with a dual purpose as Alan and I propose to sail into Santander this summer! We have always promised ourselves that it will be one of our sailing destinations, this was an ideal opportunity to reacquaint myself with the harbour!
However, as we haven’t done that with any other of the places we have visited over the last two years (the sailing pilot books give you all the information you need) I have to own up that I really wanted to visit our Spanish friends, William and Carmen and their family who live just outside the city in a small hamlet called Puente Arce. I went with Ian, my middle son, not my ‘toy boy’ and it was great to spend time with him too, more than the odd snatched hour long lunch break in UK when I’ve been back and he is available!
After William and Carmen had picked us up from the airport at Bilbao and we had had a small siesta due to our excruciatingly early start from UK we drove into the city, to Sardinero and onto the Magdalena Peninsula where the Palace de la Magdalena is sited. It was originally a gift to the Spanish Royal Family, their summer palace!
Carmen jnr. wasn’t working on Maunday Thursday afternoon and so we went with her and her daughter Candela into Santander to enjoy the sunshine, which we had evidently brought with us, and some Tapas too! We saw the redevelopment of the quayside and in particular the new viewing stand for the public to watch the sailing regattas which take place in the harbour. We admired the view and Ian and I agreed that we could have a great sail into the harbour with Musetta! Roll on the day….!
Enjoying the harbour!
Good Friday ~ Santillana del Mar, Cantabria
This is a place which we will probably not visit when we arrive in Musetta because, despite it’s name …del Mar, it is not by the sea!! In fact there is an old saying that it is the town of three lies!? It is neither a saint (Santo), nor is it flat (llana) and it is definitely not by the sea (Mar)!! The name of the town is derived from Saint Juliana whose remains are in the Colegiata de Santa Juliana, the Romanesque church which was a former Benedictine Monastery.
Santillana de Mar is often thought to be one of the most beautiful towns in Spain with its stunning medieval architecture, it is a world heritage site. It is also very close to the amazing Altamira Caves which are filled with some of worlds oldest and best preserved prehistoric art. We spent a very pleasant morning wandering around the cobbled streets admiring the beautiful old buildings along with the many other visitors who were taking advantage of the glorious weather!
Scenes in the town!
Back to the car and on we went to Comillas where we had lunch in a restaurant right down by the harbour. We ate tapas and a very refreshing glass of Italian sparkling BLUE wine called Moscato which was delicious!
Carmen jnr. wanted to show us a derelict water mill. She has another string to her bow in the form of photography and uses this setting for some of her most stunning photos! The mill was at the bottom of a bumpy track and set amid the most spectacular scenery. The cliff top had a rocky outcrop which resembled a Pharoah and the rock formations were breathtaking!
Alfoz de Lloredo
With his background in forestry in the African bush, William was keen for us to see the Sequoia trees which are a feature of the Cantabrian coastline. We stopped at a viewing point where we walked and admired the forest of Sequoia whose trunks are incredibly straight!
The Sequoias and Us!
Finally we stopped for tea at the most beautiful tea rooms, not what I would associate with Spain at all! We all enjoyed the break, the tea and delicious selection of pastries in an idyllic spot at Ria del Pas, Mogro
What a great day!
Easter Saturday ~ Lunch with the family
While Carmen was preparing lunch William took us to Sardinero in the city to have a drink and a small tapas and to see the wild sea! Even though the sun was out, the overnight wind and rain had whipped up the sea which was plain to see when we arrived!
Every Saturday when William and Carmen are at home it is traditional for the whole family to meet for lunch at Puente Arce. We had a traditional Paella which was absolutely delicious!!
Lots of mouths to feed!
Sadly Ian had to leave at this point, no more free time?!
1st April ~ Easter Sunday
Carmen jnr and I drove to the opposite side of the harbour to the beach and dunes at Somo which is facing the Magdalena Peninsula. It was wild and windy and the surf was up so there were several people in the sea with their boards! The dunes were amazing and so we walked down to the beach to watch the surfers. Having soaked up the view we then had a lunch in a tiny little restaurant close by which if you didn’t know it was there you would have missed it! Delicious food in a beautiful setting and with my surrogate daughter Carmen! (Carmen lived with us in England when the boys were small and when she was studying at secretarial college in Purley, hence her sobriquet!)
A Bijou Restaurnant
3rd April ~ Time to say Goodbye!
After a lovely reunion with my old friends it was time to say goodbye but safe in the knowledge that we will see them all again some time in the summer. We had a last walk high up at the entrance to the harbour and watched a Brittany Ferries boat come in, our original mode of transport to this beautiful city!
Looking forward to being back again soon, next time with Musetta!