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Europe » Spain » Cantabria » Santander
August 26th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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Huge lineup at the bus station this morning - thank goodness for automated ticket machines!
Geo: 43.461, -3.80793

To sleep past 8 AM ... it's not a luxury I normally have, because my internal alarm clock never seems to let me sleep past then, whether at home or on vacation. And it's a luxury I didn't have today! Off to buy a ticket for the ride to Santander, and to grab breakfast - the first thing to come to mind was any place on Plaza Mayor.

The cafe was overwhelmed, with only one waitress serving what seemed to be way too many customers. Sunny but still not yet too hot, it was a perfect spot to relax and get some sustenance. Sitting there and enjoying the moment, I had one of those "I love Spain!" moments that happen so frequently for me here. Really, they're more of a "I love travel!" moment, but they seem to be extra special when experienced in Spain. The feeling is one of excitement and happiness, where I realize both how great it is to be here enjoying myself, and how incredibly lucky I am to be able to experience moments like these.

I sauntered over to the cathedral and along the way, realized how much of what I find so beautiful
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Walking along the river in Burgos looks a bit like Ile de la Cite in Paris - you've got the river, and a cathedral sitting on what looks like from this perspective, an island.
in Spanish women is actually in the voice. I saw a typical Spanish beauty window shopping with a friend but as I walked by, I heard that her voice was as deep as mine. Suddenly, I viewed her in a different way ...

I popped into Zara for a quick browse, but not for the clothing, since Zara is readily available back in Calgary. I've mentioned time and time again in these blogs, visits to Zara in Spain are enjoyable because of all the Spanish salesgirls staffing the stores,and Spanish women shopping there 😊 I don't think I've ever been disappointed with a visit to one of the Spanish locations, but surprisingly, this time I was.

Sfera wasn't too far away, another Spanish clothing chain - I haven't visited too many of these in Spain, but this was definitely NOT a disappointment. One particularly attractive salesgirl made me chuckle inside, because she reminded of a quote I once read on the internet about Spanish women - the quote basically stated that Spanish women were so cute because of what he termed the Iberian overbite. This salesgirl had a bit of that overbite, and I realized that it probably was what made
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Does it get any better than this?
her so darned cute! I don't visit a lot of Sfera stores while traveling, but I think I need to start ... but not because of the salesgirls, only because we don't have their stores in Canada. Honest!

Time to visit the interior of the cathedral; this has been my plan of attack the past few days, since I've been arriving to these places late in the day - walk around the outside when I arrive, and check out the inside once they open up in the morning.

The Burgos cathedral is more famous than Leon's, but I prefer Leon's because of its stained glass windows. Gothic cathedrals are normally dark on the inside, but the Burgos cathedral seemed almost too bright. There were, however, some very interesting items to be found in the cathedral. And as is generally true, the cloisters were the best part of the cathedral, at least for me. Though today, this was mostly due to the high number of senoritas walking about the cloisters.

Having time to kill before my bus, I hopped onto the stupid little tourist train, something I rarely do. Part of the reasoning was also because I wanted to hike up
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Statue of a woman cooking - sadly, what she's making looks tastier than the average Spanish dish.
to a lookout, but didn't really feel like doing so when it was 31 C and sunny out. The ride itself was a little boring, but did offer nice views down on Burgos.

Back to the hostal to pick up my backpack, stopping in Springfield along the way to pick up a t-shirt. Disappointing was the fact that the salesgirls weren't friendly at all, in fact even a little bit rude. Guess I was spoiled with the overwhelming friendliness experienced in Galicia and Asturias.

Time for lunch - at the same cafe on Plaza Mayor from this morning's breakfast, for that calamari bocadillo that earlier made me drool. It was a different waitress this time, and she was actually quite rude as well. When my bill blew away, I asked her to confirm the price, and explained what happened - she rolled her eyes, muttered something under her breath, and went back inside to check.

I started to think I was somehow being rude without realizing it, to the waitress or the salesgirls at Springfield, but realized it couldn't have been anything I did - anybody familiar with me knows that I would NEVER, EVER be rude in anyway to
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Coffee and croissant for breakfast for me, but an older couple sitting close by had a funner breakfast - morning beers, at 10 AM!!! The cafe con leche was lukewarm, the croissant "toasted" (warmed on the plancha grill). A typical simple Spanish breakfast. I noticed an incredible looking calamari bocadillo being eaten, and decided to come back for it later.
a Spanish senorita 😊 Other than the waitress, it was rather enjoyable sitting in the shade and sipping on a San Miguel.

The local cheese from Burgos is supposed to be delicious, and is commonly served as dessert either in a tart, or with honey, fruit, and nuts. Though it was on the menu, the waitress told me they didn't offer any. I was looking forward to try it, but haven't found a place that offers it yet. I prefer not to buy a huge chunk of it from the numerous "Souvenirs of Burgos" tourist trap-type stores that are around. And I did end up forgiving the waitress for her rudeness, because she was a typical Spanish cutie. I also forgave the salesgirls from Springfield, as well 😊

After lunch, I headed to the bus station. Burgos was nice to visit but like Leon, there's not much to draw me back. I'm still glad I came, because I first heard of the town from a couple of American students staying at my hostel the second time I was in San Sebastian. They were in Spain for the summer studying Spanish, and were living in Burgos. At the time, I remember
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Burgos has a big tapas competition every year; these are one bar's dessert submissions.
thinking how great an experience like that would have been, to be able to do that during the university years. So that's why I visited Burgos - not much of a reason, but I've never needed much of an excuse to stop in any Spanish town.

On the bus - I finished off the honey-roasted nuts I picked up yesterday (crappy, by the way), and took a nap. The ride to Santander was gorgeous, as the Cantabria region is the complete opposite of Andalucia, which is the idea most have of what Spain looks like. It's not all desert and Moorish architecture; in the north it's got rugged coastline and lush, green vegetation all across the hills. Many of the beautiful little Spanish towns along the route looked a bit like little Italian towns in Tuscany.

My first experience in Santander was speaking with the girl at the TI, getting directions to my pension. Seeing how cute she was, I immediately knew that I was going to enjoy my time in Santander 😊 I hopped a bus to get to El Sardinero, the part of Santander where all the nice beaches and local money are.

Pension Luisito - the owner
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The cathedral by day.
Julia, is the chattiest, friendliest, kindest little Spanish grandma you could imagine. The pension is quite simple, but has a fantastic location only steps from the beach. I know I'll enjoy staying here because Julia makes you feel like right at home. When she asked why I spoke Spanish, I responded with my usual "Because I have the beautiful dream of one day marrying a Spanish girl." She smiled, laughed, and reached up and touched me on the face, with an expression that said "Oh! You're such a smart boy, you know that the Spanish senoritas are the best!"

El Sardinero is absolutely beautiful, but given that it's the beach area and the fact that it was early evening, there was no point sticking around here. Back towards the bus station, where the actual city centre is. Distances on my map are quite deceiving, as it ended up being a 45-55 minute walk as opposed to the 20 minutes I expected. Looking back at the guidebook later on, it also suggested it was only a 20 minute walk from the centre to El Sardinero. I suppose that could have been true if they were looking only at the distance between
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A very fitting statue of a pilgrim, sitting in front of the cathedral.
boundary of the centre and the boundary of El Sardinero.

Almost the entire walk between El Sardinero and the centre is along the ocean, either along the beaches of El Sardinero, or the harbourfront paseo in the centre. It's less touristy in the centre than it is in El Sardinero. I continued walking past the centre, over to Calle Vargas - there are still a few tourists there, but it had the feel of a street where mostly locals hung out with their friends and families. It was nice to see so many walks of life enjoying themselves, from babies to grandparents.

There are a number of restaurants offering cheap fixed-price menus, but I opted for a simple kebab. It's funny how kebabs are considered fast food, but in many of these places, it always takes forever to get one because they also do quite a bit of sit-down business. I laughed as I waited for my kebab, because they had a special platter on their menu that consisted only of meat and french fries. How fitting for Spain!

I never understand why anybody would eat inside one of these shops because it's always like an oven, so I grabbed
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The beautiful golden staircase. You'll never guess who showed up only moments after this photo was taken ...
mine and sat on a bench along Calle Vargas. The kebab wasn't bad, though at the end of it, there was nothing left but meat, which grew a bit tiresome. As I finished up, I noticed some people walking past that looked like half-Spanish/half-Asian mixes. Perhaps I do have a chance of one day realizing my dream!

Picked up a gelato at Capri Heladeria on the long walk back to the pension. The banana gelato absolutely rocked, as it tasted like banana bread. The hazelnut was kind of blah, however. It's nice to see gelato shops here that actually make their own gelato, as opposed to what I have seen so far in the other towns.

Santander is a great place to stroll; the street running in the centre along the harbourfront is great - the one side directly on the water has vendor stalls and sculptures on display, and the other side is a main commercial street, with shops and outdoor cafes. In the middle are green spaces and a great place to walk, except that you can't continuously walk in this area - once you hit a traffic circle, you either have to cross over to the waterfront
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... Neo, and the rest of "The Matrix" gang, for a kick ass fight scene!
or commercial side.

It was a very long trek back to the pension, and I was completely exhausted after. I'd basically walked non-stop for almost four hours since leaving the pension, with only a short break to eat the kebab. I'd probably walked over 10 km since arriving. It was a warm night, and there were so many beautiful spots to check out along the way. One of my favourite Spanish words is "Guapa" - it means beautiful, and it so perfectly describes the people (especially the women), the culture, and the country. It's also the perfect word to describe Santander.

I had a quick chat with Julia upon returning to the pension, and she gave me a bit of a Spanish lesson. Because I essentially learned Spanish on my own, I lack many of the fundamentals and simple aspects of the language, so having her correct some of this was much appreciated. I crawled up to my room and passed out - it was a long day!


Additional photos below
Photos: 32, Displayed: 30


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The chapel of the high constable, built in the 15th century. The design showed equality of sexes, something considered shocking at the time.
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The tomb of El Cid and his wife.
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These carvings are exposed to a lot of sunlight, which is breaking down the limestone, making it look like it's melting. I melt like butter while in Spain, but it's not usually due to the sunlight, but due to the sound of senoritas conversing in Spanish :)
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A pre-nup agreement between El Cid and his wife - definitely ahead of his time.
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A temporary exhibit was on display in the cloisters, called "Voces y Signos" (voices and signs). The sounds of monks chanting were piped into the cloisters, the melodic and mesmerizing rhythms giving rise to an ethereal atmosphere. But still, the chanting was nowhere near as mesmerizing or ethereal as the voice of a Spanish senorita! A monastery just outside of Burgos is actually quite famous, because its monks sold millions of copies of CDs of their Gregorian chants back in the mid-90s.
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I have absolutely no idea why little flames are burning atop everybody's heads.
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I loved this painting, it's like something out of a graphic novel.
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The tacky little tourist train.
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The shirt that I had to have from Springfield - "El Pequeno Diablo" means "the little devil". I've got way too many t-shirts, but I had to have this one!
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Chocolate palmeira - sickly sweet, tasting good at first, but nasty at the end, because it seemingly got sweeter and sweeter as you ate it. It's a good thing I have an extremely high tolerance for excessive sweetness in Spanish senoritas, otherwise I'd have acquired diabetes after all these Spain trips :)
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Some might think this statue of a giant ice cream cone eating a little ice cream cone is a little disturbing, but I have to admit I find the idea of ice cream eating ice cream to be strangely sexy. It just seems so ... right ... But I must admit, during my travels, I have seen some pretty disturbing acts committed with ice cream: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/pwong/euro-2007/1189980960/img_5161.jpg/tpod.html


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