West my friends, west to Santander. Plans to travel beachside are somewhat highjacked by TomTom, insisting on freeway. It’s not a bad thing though, roads are wet and I’d rather not plumet to my death in search of a good view. Besides, the cloud covered mountains are quite lovely.
The freeway brings a different view: houses, set on large blocks, even by Australian standards. It seems living here is one of two extremes; high high rise, or living large. The homes are enormous, often three story, a stark contrast to the cheek by jowl living of seaside apartments.
The freeway takes us out of Basque into the Austurias and Cantabria region, also known as the Costa Verde, the green coast. It wasn’t something I’d expected, this cool greenery. The Spain I knew was an arid, heat infused place. Gorgeous, yes, but woe betide you if you got caughtout in the heat of the mid afternoon. The gentler, greener pace of the north comes as a pleasant surprise.
We’re in Santander quickly thanks to the freeway and score a great spot, the last one, by a central park close to the shore an a space age stadium.
We settle and it’s bikes out to explore. The town is gearing up for the weekend with a carnival setting up. Nearby a mobile BBQ has pollo, chorizo, ribs, roasting peppers and all the trimmings firing up for later tonight. The smell is amazing.
Santander is a beach town, the capital of the region, with one of the cleanest beaches in Europe if the guidebook is to be believed. Great bike paths too, leading around the headlands.
Manicured gardens edge the water, wherever there’s a view, an elegant garden/platform has been built for our viewing pleasure.
Our bike tour winds around one hill than another, eventually leading to a security gated garden. This too is in set up mode, with a massive stage and band in sound check. 80s rock makes a great accompaniment as we cycle up the hill to the surprises that await: a pool of seals (seals!),
penguins too, historical model boats and further along, the summer palace of Alphonso XIII, built in 1911. The palace has grand views over the bays and those are clearly then royal seals and 🐧.
It’s a long hike back on the bikes and I have ingredients calling my name: mushrooms to be sauteed in garlic butter and peppers awaiting the kiss of balsamic before being roasted.
Best laugh of the day goes to Chris, commenting on the music that came on after the band. “She’s good” he says. It was Michael Jackson. 😂😂😂