Early in 2013 I decided to see my UK family, and also decided to see them every two years. My parents are now too elderly to make the trip to Oz, and my siblings don’t seem to want to make the trip more than once – they’ve all been to Australia, and have decided that it’s too hot, too far, etc….
So in 2013 I planned a visit; my partner, Rosalie has been to the UK with me, and our daughter Emily, twice and didn’t really want to come again, so I soloed it; and rather than fly directly to Heathrow, I thought I’d see parts of Europe I’d never visited while I was a local: I’m a mountain bike cyclist, so I caught a plane to Budapest, and cycled to the UK. That trip is documented in ozblokeoneabike
That was a great trip; it gave me enough of a taste to do something similar in 2015 – though this time I started in Munich, with a couple of mates – Mariette O’Connell and her partner Ian Gay; they left me in Budapest, where I hung a right and travelled ( again by bike) to Zagreb, then Rijeka, up and across Italy, through France to Carcassonne, then North to Dieppe. I then caught a ferry to Newhaven, and spent a few weeks with my family. This trip is documented in ozblokeonabikeagain
So; 2017, and it was time to visit famiy again.
I’m a reader, and lot of what I like is detective fiction (not exclusively – I’m a big fan of Robert Jordan and that genre); I’m a big fan of Peter Robinson who writes novels based an a dour Yorkshire detective, Alan Banks. We share more than a first name; we both like the North Yorkshire moors, single malts and Theakston’s Old Peculiar; we also share similar tastes in music. In one of his novels, he’s in a bar where someone he knows is singing – he asks her to sing Finisterre; a song by June Tabor, which gives Santander a good plug.
This gave me a (very) romantic mental image of Santander and Northern Spain; Finisterre is, literally, “end of the world”… and the initial seeds that led to this trip,
I’d not seen Greece, or Albania, or Monte Negro, and I’d missed Dubrovnik and Split (Croatia) in 2015 – so I loosely planned this trip, starting in Athens, then heading up the coast to Split; ferry to Italy, cycle across, then a ferry from Genoa to Barcelona (I’d cycled most of the stretch between last time), Then Spain. and Portugal, to Santander – then a ferry to the UK, and a few weeks with my family.
I realised, once I neared Valencia, that the Southern Spanish coast was not for me; all beer and skittles, calamari and two veg, resorts, etc; about as foreign to an Aussie bloke as Pitt Street. Not my scene. Also that I didn’t have the time to “do” Portugal – So I cut North; and here I am. Santander.
A great city. In the late 50’s and 60’s it was the playground of the rich, the famous, and the royals; Queen Liz and Phil the Greek partied here heaps, before they were forced to keep a lower profile. It didn’t work for the Greek or Spanish royals – they’re long gone. Dunno how Liz and her mob of parasites survived, but they did.
So – my romantic vision of a small fishing port – gone. What we have is a vibrant place, strung along the coast. As special as Cannes, or Nice, or Monaco – somehow the Spanish civil war relegated it to second rate…The old town was burnt to buggery in 1941 – as Santander was rebuilt, they pedestrianised most of the water’s edge. Makes a great place to promenade. Which they do. In droves. Babes in tiny bikinis, skateboarding; old fat blokes, strutting along, lots of 6 pack heroes, shirtless, trying to get noticed. All human life is here.
There’s way too much traffic – but that’s the times we live in; everyone has a car, and won’t walk. Time we stopped pandering to this ridiculous world view, surely.
I caught the tourist bus, which takes you around the beaches; not much to see in Santander itself.
Off the bus, and into the “new” old town. lunch at 3:00pm – Gamberies, bacalao and cake. I had a side dish of sardines – as you would…
I’d walked into town, mainly to find the ferry entrance – lucky I did, as it’s not straightforward. After lunch, I made my way back to the hotel – on the steep uphill stretches the town provides escalators 🙂
It’s now 7:00 pm. I’ll finish this, watch some junk online, then crash; no rush tomorrow, as the ferry does nt leave until 3:15. Bt this is my last post. Thanks for reading. I’ve had a ball cycling.
See you down the road.