Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring Break Trip to the North: Santander

The third stop of our trip was Santander.  Santander never makes it into any of the guide books, and I really don't understand why.  I mean, I probably wouldn't travel to Spain to visit Santander, but if you are in the north already it's really just a lovely, charming little town.  It's also the major city of Cantabria, and surely more interesting than visiting fake cave paintings (the one attraction of Cantabria that tends to make the books are the famous Altamira cave paintings... small problem that you don't actually get to see them, but have to visit a "replica cave.")  I bet it's awesome in the summers, with all the beaches!  It was also nice to get a break in pure castilian Spanish after the the impossible basque and before heading to the land of Bable (Asturias) and Gallego (Galicia).
These are the sardines I had as my second course for dinner after arriving.  Yum!
The next morning it was out to explore the town.  This is the fortress-like cathedral, which was dark and creepy inside.  On the plus side, some cardinal was visiting so there were priests in cassocks everywhere, which added to the atmosphere.
the courtyard of the cathedral
a park
This is the headquarters of the Santander bank, of which I am a moderately satisfied member.  The armored vans pull right up into the middle of the bank through that archway.
This is Santander's iconic statue, or little children going swimming.  I guess in the warm months little kids actually line the banks and will dive in after thrown coins.  An interesting take on the lemonade stand.
cultural center (actually named the Palace of Festivals)
I love the little blue house squeezed in there between the apartment buildings.  I'm sure some contractor really really hates the old person who assuredly lives there.
sea (actually the Bay of Santander)
We walked along the beach until the end of the city, which juts out into a peninsula.  The whole peninsula used to belong to the royal family but today it is a park.  There is a wooded area, a few more beaches, a palace, and a little zoo housing penguins, sea lions, and seals.  Their enclosures were pretty cool because the tide went in and out of them, so they still got to experience real salt water.
A baby seal.  I die.  He was snoring until a westy dog started barking at him and he decided to flop into the water.
The English-inspired Magdalena palace.  I just realized that, since magdalena means muffin, there are tons of little girls and grown women running around Spain who are legally named and called Muffin.  Fantastic.
After finishing up on the peninsula we headed back into town to grab a quick lunch and catch our bus to head to Asturias and Gijon!

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