Monday, November 21, 2011

ALL about Santander!

I'm going to warn you now: this post is LONG, but it's mostly pictures, so don't be afraid :)

Last weekend, I went to Santander with my friends Rebecca. and Bionca. As you can see on the map below, Santander is west of Bilbao, my last little adventure, and pretty much due northwest of Logroño, in the region of Cantabria.

More importantly, it is ON THE COAST! Sea breezes, sand between the toes... one kind of heaven.

We arrived around 9 o'clock in the evening, in the dark, and without a hostel reservation (oops). As it turned out, this was rather fortunate, as it led us to seek out the Pensión Madrid, only a 5 minute walk from the bus station and a VERY good deal at only 15€ a night/person for one room for the three of us. And OH, was it comfortable (yay for memory foam mattress covers)! Of course, that last bit may have had something to do with the fact that we had just attempted sleeping in the not-so-comfortable bus seats. Anyway, after walking around a bit and eating at a diner-ish place (that reminded me of a Perkin's) where the food was okay but the company was excellent, we decided to heed the call of those lovely comfy-topped beds and get a good night of rest before a very unplanned tomorrow.

And then it was Saturday, where the word of the day was wandering. And in wandering, we stumbled upon so much!
A protest before breakfast: In what would you invest it? (300 million euros)
In search of breakfast, we passed this cleverly named bar :)
After breakfast, we went in search of the Tourism office for maps and advice. From this angle, I was very confused about which direction to go. It turned out the office was behind me :)
At the tourism office, we discovered that the only museum that any of us had
any desire to see  was closed for renovation. No worries... we just headed for the beach instead. It was a BEAUTIFUL day!
Stopped and dangled our feet over the edge of the marina on the way to the beach.

On Playa de La Magdalena. The water was COLD... but refreshing :)
I don't even know which buildings these are, but I liked seeing the old with the... less old. 
There were lots of sailors, kayakers and paddle boarders out. Did I mention it was a beautiful day? Also, see that tower protruding from the treeline? Yeah, that's a palace and kind of what we were heading toward. As you will see, we were distracted along the way.
Also, see that tower protruding from the tree-line? Yeah, that's a royal palace. El Palacio Real de La Magdalena, a summer home for the royal family completed in 1912.  Anyway, the palace gardens were where we were heading, but as you will see, we became distracted along the way... by things such as this...
The perfect place for contemplation... and drinking in the scenery.
Breathing space. It really was a breath-taking beach. The sand was soft... different from the shells on Amelia Island. I could have stared out from this beach for hours, and we kind of did.
WE FOUND A SLIDE THAT WENT DOWN TO THE BEACH!!! I went down it... um, a few times :) This is Rebecca being a kid again, or maybe it's just that we refuse to completely grow up.
Playing with Bionca on a spinning see-saw thing... in other words, my new favorite piece of playground equipment. 
The playground above also had these awesome tight-rope jungle-gyms, and after playing until we were tired out big kids, I asked Rebecca and Bionca why they didn't have adult playgrounds... and then I was saddened by how adding "adult" to almost anything gives it a somewhat dirty connotation... especially if it's something more generally associated with kids. Anyway, this here was pure, innocent JOY! When's that last time you made like a five-year-old and just played? Do it. Now.

You may not be able to tell, but this faro (lighthouse) is on an island, Mouro Island to be exact.
Of course I had to get a jumping picture. In the distance (under my left leg) is another faro.
This is four of... a lot. I'm sure the people thought we were crazy. We didn't care :)

El  hombre y la mar, remembering Francisco de Orellana. A quote on the plaque says "La fe es la barca pero solo los remos de la voluntad la llevan." Vital Alsar Ramirez
(Faith is the boat but only the oars of willpower carry her.)

Funky succulents in front of one of the boats of the memorial.
Calling out to sea.
After the monument, we stumbled upon a little public zoo with penguins and some chillin' spotted seals. There were also lots of ducks.

They were looking for some free handouts.
This guy was awesome. Don't know if you
can tell, but he's literally sitting, chillin.
Our legs exhausted from all the walking, playing and jumping, we decided to make the long walk back toward the center of town in search of food. On the way, the lighting and vistas were gorgeous.
El Palacio Real de La Magdalena as the sun started descending below the cloud cover. Lovely.
This post has gotten rather long, but to sum up the rest of trip, here are a few bullet points:

  • It was around 6pm when we were searching for dinner. Oddly enough, that's about 2-3 hours too early to get dinner (as in an actual meal and not just pinchos) anywhere in Spain. So we stopped in a café for some café and a snack, but mostly just to rest our tired selves. Ended up staying and watching a very interesting talkshow that looked like a reunion of the cast from various seasons of an American Idol type show, chock full of random ballad and duet interludes. Entertaining.
  • Finally left, found our way to a grocery store where we got fixings for sandwiches, which we then took back to our Pensión. On the way, we discovered the tunnel access road had been blocked off from car traffic and a stage was being set up at the other end. Interesting. We made note. :)
  • Sat on our comfy beds, eating very delicious sandwiches and watching Sex and the City, or should I say El sexo en la ciudad. :)
  • Once it was sufficiently late (so about 11 by Spanish standards) we went out again, simply for a glass of wine. Instead we found that the stage was being set-up for a free concert. AWESOME!!! I introduce to you Vespa Groove + The Horns GIS, the bluesy, jazzy band that sang in English oddly enough: 

They were followed by a more reggae influenced group called Papa Shango that played mostly their own stuff. This is the ACTUAL performance we saw! Dude with the orange hat was especially entertaining... and not too bad to look at as well :P

The song is called "Nuevo Mundo Utópico." The lyrics were nice.
  • After the music, we found a bar, had some drinks, made some new Spanish friends that danced with us to the 80's music playlist and bought us shots. Got back to the pensión around 4am and slept until we had to leave.
  • The ride back was BEAUTIFUL because we could actually see the ocean for most of it (since it was afternoon and not evening as it was on the way up). I should have taken pictures, but sometimes, it's nicer just to enjoy the view.
In sum, it was a lovely weekend. We didn't go into a single museum, cathedral, or really any historic building. We were outside pretty much the entire time, aside from eating, drinking, and sleeping. And I wouldn't have changed a thing. Thank you, Rebecca and Bionca for all the conversation and general company. And thank YOU, for if you've read all of this entry, you must truly love me. :)

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