We took the train from Santiago to Santander with an hour stop at Palencia., which gave us time to visit the city and sit tranquilly in an outdoor cafe to enjoy a beer. It was sunny and 30 C (86 F), the warmest it has been in two months. Delicious!
These statues are next to the cathedral. What do they remind you of?
We arrived at Santander in the late afternoon. Conveniently the train station is across the street from the bus station. The hardest part of arriving in a strange city is getting one’s orientation; getting a map is the first thing we like to do. The tourist information center was 900 meters away and we left the tourism office with a map, a hotel list, and an attraction guide–knowledge is powerful.
We found a nice pension near the train/bus stations and then went in search of a book to read during the 17 hour ferry ride to England, and then we went in search of a restaurant that did not serve the customary fare. We walked for almost two miles before we gave up; all we found were cafes, clothing stores and perfumers. Though we did not walk far that day, we were both exhausted from the boredom of sitting 10 hours on the train.
July 3: Santander
Once again, nature is not on our side. It is in the 60s, misty, and overcast which means our photos are not a brilliant as we would like. After storing our backpacks in a locker at the bus station, we visited this beautiful ocean-side city. First we went to the post office and waited in line for about 30 minutes before getting waited on. We laughed at the officious clerk who stamped the paperwork as if it were a royal document. Bang on the ink-stamp, and then bang with a flurry on each of the six pages. I couldn’t help comparing the number of people assisted in the duration with the number that the Ashton Street Post Office near us could process, and with fewer people.
We walked along the board walk for several hours, taking photos of various statues. One sculpture commemorates young naked boys who used to dive for coins. ( Yes, the statues are anatomically correct; I just had to look). We passed huge buildings, the port, maritime museums, concert halls, beaches, sailing schools, parks, and lots more. Since is was inclement, most of the passersby were tourists or people going to work. The bay in Santander is considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world, but the inclement weather dulled the beauty. The only ones on the beach were lifeguards.
We culminated our walk at the Magdalena Palace, constructed in 1908 as a summer residence for the royal Spanish family. We visited the grounds and walked around the huge edifice. On the grounds are tennis courts, polo fields, carved trees, even a small festival.
We left there in search of Cocido Montañés (Highlander stew or Mountain stew) which is a local hearty bean stew. Unable to find any, we ended up with pasta, which was surprisingly flavorful.
By six P.M, we returned to the bus station for our backpacks and then went to the ferry to await boarding at 8:15. The room is tiny, which may have caused Dennis’ seasickness. After leaving the room, he felt much better. Soon we will be in England, at last.