To Santander - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

May 19, 2024

To Santander

We were so excited yesterday morning when we discovered that there’s a Cercanías we can catch to ride most of the way to Santander today.  While I’m lying bed waking up though I start ruminating on this, imagining the scene at the train station.  It will be a quick stop, the train stopped only long enough for passengers to quickly hop on or off.  We’ll have to be prepared, ready to lift our bikes up assuming it’s not a roll-on, and assuming the doors are wide enough to squeeze the bikes in without removing the panniers first.  Will it be crowded?  Will there be room for us to squeeze past people and find a place for our bikes?  It’s bound to be a tense scene.  We’ll have to have a contingency plan thought through in case one of us makes it on and one doesn’t.

And then I check the weather.  Its improved, and it looks like with luck we could arrive dry if we get there by around noonish.  I bring this  idea up to Rachael once she starts stirring, and she agrees.  We’ll leave early, think positively, and bike as far as works.  Our route passes three or four stations, so we can always bail out at one of them if it comes to that.

Rachael gets started on scrambling the last of the eggs, we get packed up, and we’re on our way by about 9:30.  In a lucky accident, the ride starts with a navigation error.  In trying to avoid biking one last time across the stony streets in the town center we take the wrong paved road out of town.  It adds a quarter mile but it’s well worth it because it takes us past the one noteworthy sight Rachael mentioned from her walk yesterday - the egrets.  We pass a series of snowy trees turned white by what must be a thousand cattle egrets.  It’s an amazing sight, the only time I’ve seen such a huge concentration of egrets since our first visit to Cordoba twenty years ago.  I was so astonished by them then, seeing thousands of birds streaming in from all directions and coming to roost in trees by the base of Cordoba’s famous bridge.  I imagine those were cattle egrets too, though at the time I didn’t even know that was a species.

This is just a small section of the scene, zoomed in enough so we could see some detail.
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Which reminds Rachael that she brought back a video of these birds from her walk yesterday, so we’ll paste it in now:

Cordoba, September 2004.
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It’s not surprising that under the circumstances we just rode, happy for every mile we remained dry.  I warned Rachael in advance that I’d be stopping to see the old bridge over the Pas River at Oruña when we got to it, but other than that I kept the Lumix safely zip locked until near the end when it was clear we’d be arriving dry.  There was about a mile when we biked in a light mist, but it soon passed and did no harm.

I took just enough time for a shot of the Puente Viejo across the Pas River when we crossed over the new bridge. We could have biked over the old bridge, but I wanted the better view from this one. I was lucky to get a bit of sun breaking through to brighten the scene.
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But I stopped again soon when I saw that there was more than the single arch.
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We get views of the Bay of Biscay as we approach the outskirts of Santander.
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It appears we’re going to stay dry so I allow myself a shot of this elegant cable-stayed bridge that we’re about to descend through. I should have stopped for a side view also.
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Video sound track: El Patio, by Abel Sanchez

We arrive at our hotel not long after noon and are pleased that they have a room ready for us even though the official checkin time isn’t for another three hours yet.  Our plan had been to ask if we could leave the bikes there and hang out in the lobby until our restaurant opened up, but they checked us in promptly and let us wheel the bikes into their luggage storage room.  And we were really pleased to see that their restaurant would start serving at one and we could just eat here instead of dodging raindrops for the quarter mile walk we’d been anticipating.

Did it ever start raining?  I’m a few days behind and don’t remember for sure now, but by mid-afternoon it was nice enough out that we both went out to check out the city.  I started first, and once again bested Rachael by walking the seven mile round trip out to the end of Magdalena Park and back.  She started earlier, ended sooner because conditions were cooler and windier than she was comfortable in, and as a result managed to return dry.

I was really surprised by Santander, a much more attractive and interesting place than I’d expected.  We’d have been fine with a couple of days here too.  It’s got a stunning situation, occupying a peninsula with the Bay of Biscay to the north and its own large bay to the south, billed as the only south facing harbor in northern Spain.  And it’s got an excellent waterfront, easily walkable and bikeable all the way from downtown to the tip of the peninsula at Magdalena Park.  I got a bit wet, scored a last two new birds from Spain, and had a much more rewarding visit than I’d been imagining.

By the cathedral.
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Keith AdamsI will never understand the current mania for self-mutilation by extensive tattoos.
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4 weeks ago
Memorializing the great fire of 1941. The result of natural causes in a ferocious storm, it destroyed nearly all of the city’s historical core and left 10,000 homeless.
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The view across the harbor from the waterfront.
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I think these are ferries crossing the bay, but there are also tour boats running that would give you a good view of the city from the water.
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On the Santander waterfront.
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Karen PoretOur former neighbors have a house here. We did not know each other well, but I understand now from your photos why they always were eager to return!
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1 month ago
An enormous dry dock parallels the shoreline.
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On the Santander waterfront.
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Side view.
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Frontal view.
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Swimmers.
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On the Santander waterfront.
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A view across the bay.
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#239: Common tern
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Fishing is rough work.
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Interesting. There must be some great significance to these coordinates.
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#24: Common gull, Eurasia’s equivalent of our short-billed gull. Until recently the two were regarded as a single species, the mew gull.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesGood shooting on the wing this day!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesLucky. I’m sure if I had it preset as you advised I’d get a result like this more often.
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1 month ago
On the Santander waterfront.
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Hmm. Is this shower going to amount to anything?
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Could be.
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Damn the rain, full speed ahead!
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The La Cerda lighthouse, at the end of the peninsula in Magdalena Park.
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Just offshore is another lighthouse, on the Isla de Mouro.
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It’s lightly sprinkling, just enough to generate the flattest rainbow I can remember seeing.
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The view off the north side of the peninsula.
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Part of the enormous Magdalena Palace, built in the early 1900’s. There’s a lot more to see in this lovely wooded park, but it’s starting to rain for real. The camera gets stowed and I start heading back to our hotel.
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I walked back along Avenue de la Reina Victoria, lined with mansions and villa with million euro views.
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Along Avenue de la Reina Victoria.
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Along Avenue de la Reina Victoria.
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Along Avenue de la Reina Victoria.
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Along Avenue de la Reina Victoria.
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Back in town, I pass beneath the impressive Santander Bank building.
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The Santander Bank building.
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The Santander Bank building.
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An air raid shelter used during the Spanish Civil War, now converted to an exhibition center.
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On the Plaza Porticada.
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Today's ride: 24 miles (39 km)
Total: 1,621 miles (2,609 km)

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