After a whirlwind day in culture packed Bilbao (forgot to add that we were serenaded in the Bilboan evening as Arcade Fire's outdoor concert next to the Guggenheim) and a lightening quick sleep, we were on the road again headed east to Santander. The bulk of the plan for Santander was beach, beach, and more beach- we were lucky to finally have some hot and sunny weather as we headed out of Bilbao.
When we arrived to the port of Santander (and probably the cleanest pension I've ever seen) the sun was even brighter than in Bilbao and we were ready for some beach, so we quickly changed, and headed to the sea. Diego had some inside info on Santander via an old friend, and we decided to head to Playa El Puntal on a ferry service that goes back and forth from the peninsula to the city every 20 minutes for just about 3.50 euros round trip.
On the boat ride we had our first view of the elegant coast of the city- dotted with mansions and posh apartments (Banco Santander-the strongest bank in Spain hails from the city, and it's owner is one of the most important bankers in the world) and even a palace- Magdalena Palace where the Spanish kings used to spend their summers at the turn of the century. We decided what property to buy for our return trip (yes, we were already planning to return after about an hour in the city...haha amazing the power of the sun and sand) and arrived to El Puntal after about 10 minutes on the ferry.
El Puntal offers views of the posh city but is the complete opposite-virgin beaches with nothing more than a dock, a little chiringuito where you can get some food, and length after length of sandy, duney, warm beaches. A perfect escape. After five minutes we were sold on Santander and we lingered on the beach until we got one of the last ferrys back to the city around sunset.
Back to the city for dinner we explored the old town-like we'd already seen on the coast the city offers more Victorian gilded elegance and lots of bank headquarters. We ate delicious Cantabrian anchovies in olive and garlic sauce and fresh salpicon (beware the service isn't exactly friendly here-but the food is great) and headed out for some drinks with the local crowd in a plaza where we saw not only the long Spanish summer night, but also a painter set with canvas and all to capture the night, and crazy nightclub advertising-consisting of Arabian costumes, fire torches, bongo drums, and 5 inch heels circling the plaza.
The next morning called for a big breafast at a little bakery-I think we ordered one of everything-and a walk to see the rest of the city. Heading north we passed beach after sandy beach. Santander has San Sebastian beat on beaches- long and sandy with calm deep blue waters from the Cantabrian-you can stay in Santander for a week and never repeat a beach. We decided to stay at El Camello beach, a smaller one with lovely rocks and cliffs and a view to the sea.
A few hours of beach and a small car accident later (no one was hurt) we said see you later to the balconies and beaches of lovely Santander and headed into the green hills of Cantabria.
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