Santander City Hike.

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Santander, the capital of Cantabria, population 178,465, is one of the major cities of Northern Spain. I’ve been a few times, and I was ready to visit it again while on my way to Asturias to renew my visa. It was cheaper to fly Ryan Air to Santander from Valencia and then catch a BlaBlaCar to Oviedo. Santander, la capital de Cantabria, población 178,465, es una de las ciudades más importantes del norte de España. He estado varias veces, y estaba listo visitarla otra vez durante mi viaje a Asturias para renovar el visado. Era más barato volar con Ryan Air a Santander desde Valencia y después coger un BlaBlaCar a Oviedo. 

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I had a few hours to kill, so I decided to do what I call a city-hike. The Magdalena Peninsula is about 3 kilometres from the bus station. The peninsula is home to the Palacio de la Magdalena, the former summer residence of King Alfonso XIII and an open air “zoo” where you can see penguins, sea lions and seals. Tenía unas horas para perder, y decidí hacer lo que llamo una ruta de ciudad, “city hike”. La Península Magdalena esta a unos 3 kilómetros de la estación de autobuses. La península tiene el Palacio de la Magdalena, la residencia de verano del Rey Alfonso XIII y también tiene un zoo de aire libre donde se puede ver pingüinos, leones marinos y focas. 

I was lucky and arrived to the peninsula just as they were feeding the sea lions and stuck around to see the feeding of the penguins. The sea lions and seals are fed at 17.00 every day except Monday, whereas the penguins eat around 12.00 and 17.30. The penguins were being lazy, and a seagull absconded with one of their fish. Tenía suerte y llegué a la península justo cuando estaban alimentando los leones marinos y me quedé para ver la alimentación de los pingüinos. Alimentan a los leones mariono a las 17 todos los días menos lunes, mientras alimentan a los pingüinos dos veces al día, sobre las 12.00 y las 17.30. Los pingüinos eran vagos, y una gaviota les robó un pescado que era su comida. 

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I had an ice cream, probably one of the few I’ll eat this summer (I try to avoid it because I gain weight very easily). I seem to always have an ice cream in Santander. Tomé un helado, que no suelo hacer porque me engordo fácilmente. Siempre tomo helado en Santander, no sé porque.

The walk back seemed to go by quicker. La vuelta me pasó más rápido que la ida.

It’s an easy walk. Just head along the coast of the bay, say “buen Camino” to any peregrinos passing by, and head along Avenida Reina Victoria or along the beach to the peninsula. Es un camino fácil. Caminas por la costa de la bahía, dices “buen Camino” a los peregrinos que puedes ver, y sigues por la Avenida Reina Victora o por la playa hasta la península. 

Hike #20/40 of 2017
Date/Fecha: 1 de junio de 2017
Kilometres hiked:  6. All pavement/sidewalks/todo acera. 
Mountain/Route: Santander Bus Station to Magdalena and back
Difficulty: Easy/Fácil 

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Camino de Santiago (Camino del Norte) Etapa 14: Santander-Boo de Piélagos.

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I was awake before the alarm went off after a restless night sleep.  The day had finally arrived. I was going to begin my Camino del Norte Adventure for 2016. Me desperté antes de sonaba la alarma después de una noche sin poder dormir bien. Por fin, el día ha llegado. Iba a empezar mi Aventura del Camino del Norte 2016. 

My AirBNB host had carefully laid out breakfast for me, and I slowly ate it before checking that I had everything I needed in my pack. She wished me a “buen camino” as I left. Her flat was near the Camino. I stopped for a real café con leche at a bar, then stopped at a pharmacy/chemist for Vaseline for the feet (which I never used) and at my bank to take out money. Then I was on my way! La anfitriona de AirBNB me había preparado desayuno, y lo comí despacio, comprobando que tenía todo en la mochila. Me deseó un “buen camino” cuando salí. Su piso estaba cerca del Camino. Paré para tomar un café con leche real en un bar, después en una farmacia para comprar Vaselina para los pies (que nunca usé) y para sacar dinero de mi banco. Después…¡ya estaba en el Camino!

The route out of Santander is long, boring, industrial, suburban road walking. The skies were grey, typical of el Norte. Better for hiking though. I saw a few pilgrims along the way, but I passed them or they passed me, each caught up in our own worlds. Later, I would find out that Santander was a popular starting point for many of us. La ruta que sale de Santander es largo, aburrido, industrial y de los suburbios, todo por la carretera. El cielo estaba gris, típico Norte, pero mejor para caminar. Vi unos peregrinos por el Camino, pero les pasaba yo o me pasaban a mí, todos en nuestros propios mundos. Después, me enteré que Santander era un punto de comenzar el Camino para muchos peregrinos este año. 

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Peñacastillo was the first village after Santander. It wasn’t too remarkable, just a church and I saw a bar. It looked pretty when looking back on it from afar though. Right after, there was a blessed 10 minutes or so of path walking instead of road walking. I stopped and played with a friendly dog. Peñacastillo era el primer pueblo después de Santander. Había poca cosa, solo una iglesia, y vi un bar. Sin embargo, pareció bontio cuando miré atrás. Después, había unos 10 minutos de sendero en lugar de carretera. Paré para jugar con un perro amigable. 

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The landscape reminded me somewhat of my hometown in Northern Ohio, but Ohio obviously doesn’t have any of the mountains. El paisaje era algo parecido a mi pueblo en el norte de Ohio, pero sin montañas (Ohio es muy plano). 

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In Santa Cruz de Bezama, I asked if there was a bar nearby, and I had a pick me up café con leche. It got me through the cows and cornfields I passed to arrive in Boo de Piélagos. I told you it reminded me of Ohio! There was a hotel/bar along the way, but it was closed. Had it been opened, I would’ve found a quick shortcut that would’ve saved five minutes. En Santa Cruz de Bezama, pregunté si había un bar, y me tomé un café con leche para animarme. Me ayudó pasar las vacas y campos de maíz. (Os dije que era parecido a Ohio.) Había un hotel/bar, pero estaba cerrado. Si estuviera abierto, encontraría un atajo que me ahorraría unos 5 minutos. 

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I was greeted to Boo de Piélagos by a golden retriever, the best dog there is. I first saw the train station, and then I saw the albergue . It was a nice one, as albergues go. The woman in charge, la hospitalera, was out when I arrived, so I dropped my bags off and went to find food. There was one restaurant in the village, about 10 minutes walking from the albergue. I normally don’t care that much about food, but this food was delicious. I thought when the bill arrived, it would be around 20€, but it was only 9€. For those passing through the village of 3255 habitants, I highly recommend lunch at Hosteria de Boo. Un golden retriever me dio el bienvenido a Boo de Piélagos. Los goldens son los mejores. Primero, vi la estación de trenes, y después el albergue. El albergue estaba bien por ser un albergue. La hospitalera no estaba cuando llegué. Dejé mi mochila y fui en busca de comida. Había un restaurante en el pueblo, 10 minutos de caminar desde el albergue. No suele importarme mucho la comida, pero la comida estaba muy rica. Pensaba que la cuenta sería 20€, pero solo era 9€. Os recomiendo la Hosteria de Boo a cualquier persona que pasa por el pueblo de 3255 habitantes. 

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I tried to sleep, but peregrinos were checking in. I had a smaller room of only four within the big room, with an English woman, a Hungarian woman and a Catalan man. The Hungarian and I saw each other various times throughout my Camino, but I lost her somewhere around Llanes. I hope she’s doing well. I made friends with the English woman and Catalán, but I never saw them again. Such is the way of the Camino.  Intenté echarme una siesta, pero había muchos peregrinos llegando. Estaba en un cuarto de solo cuatro personas que estaba dentro una habitación más grande, con una inglesa, una mujer de Hungaria y un catalán. La mujer de Hungaria y yo nos vimos mucho durante el Camino pero le perdí en Llanes. Espero que esté bien. Hice buenas migas con la inglesa y el catalán, pero nunca volví a verlos. Este es parte del Camino. 

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This was also the only albergue where I stayed that filled up with peregrinos. The rest would be near capacity, but not completely full. This one had to get extra matresses out. La hospitalera is nice, and they recommended that I jump ahead a bit on the train so I could arrive to Cóbreces and still spend some time in Santillana del Mar. As I was not wanting to take chances crossing the infamous bridge, nor would I ever arrive if I went to Arce to cross the river. También era el único albergue donde me alojé que estaba completo. La mayoría eran casi completos. Este tenía que buscar más colchones. La hospitalera es maja, y me recomendaron que salto un poco cuando cogí el tren para cruzar el puente de tanta fama para llegar en Cóbreces y ver Santillana del Mar. 

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I took the train so I would know what to do in the morning and had another coffee and wrote in my hand travel journal. I bought bread and chorizo, and I gave the leftovers to some Americans peregrinos being stereotypical and making hamburgers. I would keep running into them until I lost them in Llanes later on. Cogí el tren para saber que hacer la mañana siguente y para tomar otro café con leche y escribir en mi diario de viajes personale. Compré chorizo y pan, y les dio lo que sobraba a algunos peregrinos americanos que estaban haciendo hamberguesas…para hablar de los tópicos…siempre nos cruzamos hasta les perdí por Llanes después.

It was a good first day, although very short at only 14 km. I was a bit out of hiking shape as it had been two months, so I wanted an easy first day. Era un buen principio, aunque bastante corto de solo 14 kilómetros. No he caminado casi nada desde hace 2 meses, y quería un primer día fácil. 

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I slept a bit better that night in my bottom bunk. They served breakfast in the morning (the coffee was cold but the croissant was good), and it was 12€. Clean sheets were included, and they did your laundry for you. Dormí algo mejor esta noche en la litera de abajo. Sirvieron desayuno por la mañana (el café estaba fría pero el cruasán estaba bueno. Costó 12€, y había sábanas limpias. También te lavan la ropa. 

It was a good first day, even if Boo de Piélagos was a bit boring. I could’ve done more kilometres, but I’m glad I didn’t. The next day would bring me more… era un buen primer día, aunque sea un poco aburrido Boo de Piélagos. Sí, huberia poder caminar más, pero me alegro no lo haber hecho. El día siguente ya me llevará más kilómetros…

A continuación. To be continued.

Hike #16/40 of 2016
Date/Fecha: 16-08-2016
Kilometres hiked: 14 (Santander-Boo de Piélagos)
Mountain:  No mountains, but a few pendientes (slopes)
Difficulty: Easy-moderate (for being Camino)

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The Road to Santander.

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It seems all summer I’ve been crisscrossing Spain, back and forth between the North and Valencia. On Sunday, August 14, I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. I grabbed my backpack and went to meet my BlaBlaCar driver at 10:30 for the drive to Santander, once again travelling across The Greatest Peninsula in the World to the North. But this time was different. Parece que todo el verano estaba cruzando España, yendo y viniendo desde el Norte y Valencia. Un domingo, el 14 de agosto, me desperté nervioso y emocionado. Cogí mi mochila y fui al punto de encuentro con el conductor de BlaBlaCar a las 10.30 para el viaje a Santander, otra vez cruzando la mejor península del mundo al Norte. Pero esta vez era diferente.

I was headed to begin my Camino del Norte Adventure 2016. Estaba al punto del embarque de mi Aventura del Camino del Norte 2016.

The drive was entertaining. The driver was friendly I read The Life and Death of Charlie St. Cloud and started Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  (I read quickly) We stopped at a village north of Madrid for a nice lunch, and we arrived to Santander an hour early. I stopped for a café so I could grab wifi to let my AirBNB host know I arrived early. No problem! Lo pasé bien durante el viaje. El conductor era majo. Leí La vida y muerte de Charlie St. Cloud y empecé Wild (Alma Salvaje) de Cheryl Strayed. (Leo rápido). Paramos en un pueblo en el norte de Madrid para una buena comida, y llegamos a Santander una hora antes de la hora anticipada. Me paré en un café para usar su wifi para avisar mi anfitriona que he llegado pronto. ¡No problema!

The AirBNB was very welcoming (if anyone is going to Santander, let me know and I’ll pass you the link so you can stay). I walked along the Maritime Path to the Raqueros, the famous statues jumping into the bay, and enjoyed the sunset. La anfitriona era muy acogedora (si alguien va a visitar Santander, avísame y te pasaré el enlace para que puedas alojarte con ella). Paseé por el Paseo Marítimo hasta los Raqueros, los estatuas famosas saltando a la bahía, y disfruté de la puesta del sol. 

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Monday morning. I wanted time to explore Santander a bit more. I had been to the Cantabrian capital of 178,465 (2013 figures)  a few times, but I wanted to return to the Magdalena Peninsula again. My host told me how to get to the Cabo Mayor lighthouse, and I caught the bus to the Sardinero beach, had my café con leche and went on my way walking along the coast to reach the lighthouse. Lunes por la mañana. Quería más tiempo para explorar Santander. Había visitado la capital de Cantabria (178,456 personas) algunas veces pero quería volver a la península Magdalena otra vez. La anfitriona me dijo como llegar al faro de Cabo Mayor, y cogí el autobus hasta la playa Sardinero, tomé un café con leche y fui a pasar por la costa hasta el faro. 

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It’s not a long hike, but as I’m not even halfway to my goal of 40 hikes in 2016, I’m counting it! I cut through a beautiful park as I wanted to try to rest before my big Camino the next day. About three kilometres later, I arrived to the lighthouse. I was going to have another coffee (I know I have a problem, but I also get glasses of water with them to keep hydrated), but a tour bus arrived, so I went along the coast back to the Sardinero, amazed by the views of the Cantabrian Sea and the Cantabrian Capital. No es una ruta muy larga, pero como todavía no he llegado a la mitad de mi reto de 40 rutas en 2016, cuenta. Tomé un atajo por un parque precioso porque quería descansar algo antes de empezar el Camino el día siguente. Unos tres kilometros después, llegué al faro. Iba a tomar otro café con leche (sé que tengo un problema, pero oye, también pido un vasito de agua para no deshidratar), pero un autobús de turistas llegó, y volví por la costa hasta el Sardinero, asombrado por las vistas del Mar Cantábrico y la capital Cantábrico. 

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Next was the Magdalena peninsula. I caught a bus to save a kilometre or two (the horror), and I went to the zoo, hoping to see the penguins. It was 30ºC (86ºF), which for the North of Spain, is a burning inferno, so all the penguins and sea lions were hiding. Grrrr. The peninsula is as beautiful as I remembered. Después, fui a la Península Magdalena. Cogí un autobús para ahorrar un kilometro o dos (que horror) y fui al zoo, esperando ver los pingüinos. Hizo unos 30 grados, y para el Norte de España, es un infierno, entonces todos los pingüinos y leones de mar estaban escondiendo. La península era tan bonita como recordaba. 

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I had a cheap menú del día in the centre of the city and tried to rest a bit. There’s no rest for the wicked. I went to visit the Barrio Pesquero (Fishing District) and roamed the streets for a bit. I tried picking up a new credential for the Camino as mine is getting to be filled up with stamps, but as it was a Spanish holiday, they were always in mass. Comí un menú del día barato en el centro y intenté descansar un rato. No hay descanso para los malvados. Fui a pasear por el Barrio Pesquero y las calles. Iba a coger credenciales nuevas como las mías están llenas de sellos, pero como era un festivo español, siempre estaban en misa. 

I capped the evening off with another visit to the Raqueros and writing in my travel journal, excited but nervous for the next day to arrive. Terminé la tarde con otra visita a los Raqueros y escribiendo en mi diario de viajes, emocionado pero nervios para el próximo día.

I barely slept a wink that night. Apenas dormí esta noche. 

Hike #15/40 of 2016
Date/Fecha: 15-08-2016
Kilometres hiked: Around 6. Short hike!
Mountain: No Mountain. Cabo Mayor (Major Cape).
Difficulty: Easy

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Camino de Santiago (Camino del Norte) Etapa 13: Güemes-Santander.

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I have reached my Camino goal for 2015. I have arrived to Santander.

On Sunday morning, after a restless night’s sleep in the famed Albergue of Güemes (entry to come soon. Stay tuned!), I had a quick breakfast and was out the door. I was wanting to walk alone as I needed solitude to process some emotions I was going through, and so I was one of the first to leave. However, as I was having some problems with my calf muscles due to the post AnkleGate (my 2014 sprain ankle), I had to take it slow and many amazing pilgrims I met in Güemes passed me. I let them, saying “¡hola!” with a smile.

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Buenos días

I loved the mist being evaporated by the rising sun.

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Buenos días

I passed some literally empty houses. I wish I knew the story behind them.

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Literally an empty house! Literally! 😉

I was hoping to have a second breakfast, my tostada con tomate that Euskadi seems to run from, but everything in Galizano was still closed at 9 in the morning.

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Galizano

I began to limp my way to the beach, and I realised I had forgotten to take my selfie of the day. I took out the camera to snap myself with the mountains, mist and still rising sun in the background. While doing this, I dropped my camera.

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The things we do for a selfie. Adéu, camera.

So far on this weekend on the Camino, I lost my mobile and broke my camera. Good going.

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The iPad takes good pics, right?

At least I have my trusty iPad Cesc, who snaps photos for me when my camera is tired. The camera lasted its average 15 months, and I’m sure I’ll have a new one coming at Christmas. Cesc was busy as the Camino arrived to the coast (of course I took the coastal way). I ran into some surfers, and the fields had been harvested. One photo I snapped was the contrast of the fields (which remind me of Ohio), the Camino, and the cliffs leading to some beautiful beaches.

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Cows.

Around one corner, Santander appears in the distance. I had already taken the ferry from Somo to Santander last June. I stopped to take off my hoodie and apply sunscreen, admiring the Cantabrian Sea in all its glory.

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Santander in the distance

A few runners came along, wishing me a “buen Camino”. The Cantabrians seem really open to pilgrims and friendlier than their Basque neighbours. Of course, I think the Basques are walking these trails themselves and don’t really differentiate between a pilgrim and a day hiker with no destination. But the Cantabrians also were taking advantage of these beautiful trails and a beautiful early autumn day.

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Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of this beautiful day?

I arrived to the beach, which I was hoping to avoid walking on the beach to help my muscles a bit more. No such luck. The beach was beautiful with some amazing views of Santander.

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More beach walking!

I saw fellow pilgrims from Güemes enjoying the beach. I remember thinking as some of them had passed me, “Am I doing this wrong? Am I pausing for too many photos?” I let this thought evaporate into the mist. My right calf muscles needed a slower pace, and as a writer with anxiety, I am more prone to contemplate the sea for longer periods of time.

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Fields…Camino…Cliffs…Beach…Cantabrian Sea…one photo.

I left the beach a bit too early, trying to remember where I had left it the year before. This lead me through a very residential section of Loredo and Somo and not the Camino. Oh well, it was a different sort of scenic route.

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I took too many photos of the sunrise, so sharing more of them.

I arrived to Somo, had an expensive tostada con tomate at 11:40 (typical Spanish breakfast ends at 12) and waited for the ferry with a German pilgrim I had met on the albergue. A few more from Güemes caught the 12:25 ferry with me, and I explained what little I new about Santander (Palacio Magdalena, the story about how it was the last province capital (or one of the last ones) to take down their statue of Franco and you can feel the conservative atmosphere in the air today). It was a bit hard to say goodbye to them and wish them a buen camino. A few of them stayed in Santander, and the German one was going on to…somewhere.

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Another sunrise pic

I was lucky as I arrived to the bus station at 13:10, and I bought the last bus ticket to Bilbao for the entire day. There are buses nearly every hour from Santander to Bilbao, but Sunday is a popular day for travel. I had a pintxo de tortilla at a Chinese-ran bar, and the Chinese man wished me a “buen Camino.” It’s the small things like that make me smile.

I am ready for more Camino action, and I may tackle another weekend if the good weather holds and I have money and energy for it. If not, there is always next year.

A continuación…

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Date of Etapa: 27 de septiembre de 2015
Kilometres walked: Around 15-16 according to the guide.

Camino Día 1 
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