Tuesday, August 2, 2011


We had wanted to visit Santander but hadn't made it to the city yet.  A train or bus trip would be pretty long, necessitating an overnight there. Would we really miss seeing this part of Spain?

A rather frustrating experience with our Eurail passes facilitated a visit Santander.  As much as we hated to admit it, we needed to get reservations and tickets for our train from Oviedo to Madrid, our flight home being out of Madrid. 

The Eurail passes we got for train travel have been less than easy to use.  Having not bought tickets before we left the US, because we really didn't know when we would need tickets back to Madrid, we could not purchase them online.  No seats were available for pass holders.  But, we could opt to buy seats on the same train.  Forget it!   The customer service phone line was always (even back in the States) an interminable wait on hold.

Isabel called the Oviedo station for us to see if we could reserve seats and pick up tickets the day of our train.  No go.  We could reserve tickets from the Oviedo train station on the phone but would then have to pick them up within 72 hours.  This would involve a 2-hour train trip to Oviedo and back.  Oviedo was fun but we had seen it.  Did we want to return?  Maybe August and I would go alone.  Or we could rent a car to go to Oviedo but that seemed silly, having already visited.  After what felt like a bilingual conference in Isabel's office, weighing our options,  the idea came to us that we could rent a car for another two days and take a trip to Santander.  We could buy our Oviedo-Madrid tickets there and see the city as well.

Off we went on the train to Llanes (again) the next day.  Another rainy Tuesday trip to Llanes.  A funny coincidence...even the rental agent noticed.  Sad for August and Louis, we had no time to stop at the music school; we were on the road to Santander immediately.

We feared we still might run into trouble getting reservations/tickets with our passes but it was a quick 10-minute process just seconds before the ticket office closed for lunch.  Tickets in hand, we could focus on returning to our carefree stay in Spain.  Luck was on our side...and the rain stopped too!

Santander was a rather small city until the early 20th century when the royal family chose to build a summer palace at the top of the hill on a peninsula overlooking the water.  The city expanded as a result of this. 

From the train station we stopped for lunch before walking through town, along one of the many beaches, and on to the palace and surrounding park.

A self-service milk bottle refill machine situated in the parking lot between the Renfe and FEVE train stations.  A bit odd...

Near the maritime museum.

University building having to do with nautical studies

Another cool climbing structure on Playa de los Peligros...how did they make it all the way to the top?

Península de la Magdalena:
The peninsula where the palace sits is now a park with trails, sculptures and expansive views.
A monument to victims of terrorism, by Augustín Ibarrola, the same artist who painted the breakwater cubes in Llanes.

We had read that there were sea lions to be seen here.  We assumed they were wild and were surprised because we hadn't seen much in the way of sea life in Spain.   We were a bit unimpressed when we saw the sea life in a rather drab zoo-like facility.  The animals were fun to watch nonetheless.

Fuzzy ducklings

Black swan

Penguins in their stark enclosure

Grey seal
Sea lion barking.  They were all very vocal.

Watching the sea lions
Palacio Real de la Magdalena

palace grounds

Lovely little summer home.

Walking downhill on a trail from the palace we came upon a playground and refreshment stand.  Time for a sip and a snack.  Oliver and Louis discovered a cool slide from the playground down to the beach below.

August ordered a bocadillo and got what I termed a bocadisimo!

Yet another ice cream bar!!

Beer, flan and tinto de verano.  After the sandwich, August still had room for flan!

Oops, think Oliver was a little big for the playground equipment?

Another one?!  These are everywhere!

We were visiting in the middle of Santander's summer fiesta week, Semana Grande.  There was a stage being constructed for bands to begin playing the day we were visiting.  There was also a hot air balloon being set up.  Lots of activity...

We watched the news crew reporting on this but couldn't stick around to see the balloon rise.
A walk back through the city and dinner were in order.  The stroll along Avenida de la Reina Victoria was really beautiful...large houses overlooking the water, sculptures and a wide pedestrian walkway.


Not an appealing name, if in English, for a grocery store, for sure.

Louis chose an Italian restaurant for dinner but it was closed.  We did find a cute Mexican restaurant, a real novelty here.  But we felt right at home.

Tostada with prawns.  Delicious!

Chewable fuzzy brush dispenser in the men's bathroom.

Of course, the boys had to buy them, read the instructions and chew them at the table.  Always suckers for a novelty item!

August's fuzzy brush.  Lovely.

Now for the walk back to the parking garage.  On the way we saw fiesta activities complete with carousel, vendors and a bagpipe band!

The director

Banco de Santander, 1875

Love this statue in a traffic circle.
Santander videos to follow....

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