At the direction of the gentleman that runs the language school, Joaquin, we made an overnight stop in Santander, Cantabria, on the way back from Bilbao. He is from there, and told us it was worth a stop. He also printed a map, told us a couple places to go for a drink, and what was worth visiting, but said a day-and-a-half would be more than enough time, so that’s the amount of time we were there.
Santander is a very cosmopolitan city, which was in contrast to the big, industrial city of Bilbao and possessed a similar laid back feel of Gijón. It was nice to be back where the signs are in Spanish and they speak Spanish, after my difficulty with understanding Vasco in Bilbao.
After we arrived at the bus station (which was about an hour and some from Bilbao) we checked into the hotel, dropped our bags off and went looking for food. We found a small place with outdoor seating on a pedestrian street named Arrabal 11, and accidentally ordered beef tartar, which we realized when it was set in front of us next to an uncooked egg. We gave each other the same quizzical look, but then took a bite, and realized why people order tartar. It was so tasty and fresh, citrus-tasting, we thought it could have been red tuna. We also ordered egg, truffles-potatoes and iberico ham, which was also an excellent dish.
After that we started walking, meandering down the Paseo Maritimo, stopping to sit at one of the many the white iron benches that peppered the walkway, taking in the people, the sea, and the sailboats of varying sizes that were ever present in the blue water. Past the extremely impressive concert center right situated right on the water, we walked and walked, until we tired and headed back toward the hotel. But not before a stop at Valor, where we ordered churros and chocolate, and were given a large plate of fresh churros and chocolate that tasted like hot chocolate pudding and much better than we had at the Valor in Gijón. We then retired to our hotel and relaxed the rest of the evening.
The next morning we had decided we wanted to visit the museum Cetro Botin (which is housed in a cool, future looking building) and the Palacio de la Magdelena. Our bus back to Gijón did not leave until 9pm, so we checked out of the hotel, left our bags with the front desk, and started walking toward the Palacio, as that was farther away than the museum. So we were on our way, and then our stomachs told us, we probably should eat before this long walk, so we turned around and went to eat at a restaurant Joaquin had recommended, Bodega Cigalena. It was a very cozy place, and we were able to sit at a two person table, where we drank white wine and ate tuna tartar (it was a tartar kind of trip), peppers of the house and salmon, while sharing one of the best deserts we have had in Spain, called Tarta Fea, which was chocolate slices, melted caramel and cream cheese, topped with a scoop of caramel ice cream and powdered sugar. I wish the below picture had a 360 degree view.
We walked off our meal by heading toward the Palacio for the second time that afternoon. It was a lovely walk that slowly ascended, as the ocean view was on our right and these spectacular, massive, homes on our left. We took our time, again stopping at benches to take in the surroundings and views. The Palacio was at the top of a cliff, through a large park, and we continued until we reached it. We knew the inside of the Palacio was closed that day, but we still wanted to take in being so high above the city, and staring off into the endless ocean.
There was a small restaurant in the park that we had a couple beers at, and just enjoyed the rest of the day. We did not make it to the museum, but decided that we would return, as Santander proved to be another cool city in North Spain.