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Europe » Spain » Cantabria » Santander
August 27th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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Strolling along, in El Sardinero.
Geo: 43.461, -3.80793

I didn't bother setting my alarm today, but I was still up at 8! Why??? Why is it so difficult to sleep in??? No matter, off for a walk around this beautiful town. Surprisingly, there were a number of early risers already out on the beach - it's Spain, nobody is supposed to get up this early, only Canadian tourists who have trouble sleeping in!

I stayed close by in El Sardinero for breakfast, at the cafe adjoining Heladeria Italiana. After, it was off to La Magdalena, a peninsula that contains a park, beach, and picnic tables. I didn't feel like walking around the entire park just right now, so I decided to return tonight with a picnic. Back to the centre, where I popped into another Springfield and picked up a a bunch of cheap shirts - 3 for 20 euros! A ton of stuff was 70% off. I'm pleased to report the salesgirls here were not unfriendly like the ones at the Springfield in Burgos.

I kept wandering and ended up on Calle Vargas again, stopping at the Diferente here to pick up some picnic supplies. I had seen some Iberico pate at the Diferente in El
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Early risers on the beach.
Sardinero earlier, but couldn't find it at this location 😞 After, I wandered back towards El Sardinero, past the cathedral, before hopping on a bus - I didn't feel like a 45 minute walk back to the pension today!

Lunch was a quick picnic at a little park overlooking the beach in El Sardinero, then returned to the pension to change for the beach. I picked up a crappy little beach mat and realized how poor quality it was - it'll probably disintegrate after just a few uses, which shouldn't be a problem as there won't be that much beach time on this trip.

The beach was great, and was nice and hot when the sun wasn't hidden behind the clouds. The clouds were shifting and changing incredibly quickly, hovering, dissipating, then coalescing once more. It was like watching a fluid Rorschack inkblot test, and proved to be very entertaining for quite some time. Think of the Gnarls Barkley video "Crazy", and you'll have a rough idea of what it was like. Interestingly, the only things I could make out in the clouds were Spanish senoritas and French pastries. Says a lot about my personality and priorities in life, don't
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Cafe con leche as usual, plus what tasted like a pre-packaged croissant that had been toasted on the plancha grill. The coffee was OK, but the croissant was blah ... soon, I will be munching on the fine croissants of France, so I can withstand the crappy Spanish pastries, for the time being.
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I'm quite pleased to report that my guidebook wasn't correct, when it said the beaches of Santander were crowded with pasty-white Brits, baking next to bronzed Spaniards. I had enough of that in the Canary Islands a few years ago! Though I suppose this was an aberration - it seems like tourism is way down in Spain this summer due to economic problems elsewhere, so it's mostly Spanish tourists on the beach, and not foreign ones.

The beach time was nice, but a couple of hours of sun was more than enough for me, and it was time for a gelato. Unfortunately, the gelato shop right on the beach had a huge lineup, and the selection didn't sound that great, and I couldn't tell if it was homemade or shipped in from some supplier or factory - a cafe con leche overlooking the beach ended up being the choice. The view was decent, but the enclosed-glass terrace obscured the view, because the structural frame was right about eye level when you were sitting.

Back to the pension, where I had a chat with Julia - she noticed a bit of a tan, and we ended up on the topic
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Shot of the casino.
of my horrific Chilean sunburn, but I had difficulty describing it in Spanish. Julia asked "Were you peeling like an onion?" Such a perfect description of what happened! Except she should have said "Were you peeling like a deep-fried and burnt onion?"

Back to La Magdalena - on the way over, some stupid teen mockingly shouts "Konnichi wa!" as I walked by. Some teens need to be slapped upside the head, I think. I would've done it with my beach mat, but it simply would've shattered and given us all a ton of slivers, since it was so cheaply made.

The air quality didn't seem to be that great tonight - not sure if it was air pollution or some fire burning somewhere. Things seemed to be better at La Magdalena, which was a nice place for a stroll, and an even nicer place for a picnic. The picnic was cut short, as the winds in La Magdalena were picking up, and it looked like a storm was blowing in.

Luckily, the storm didn't come, and I finished up my picnic just outside of the park, before going for a walk. It's a little difficult doing aimless wandering in El Sardinero, since
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Don't know what this was, but it was a beautiful building.
it lacks the dimly-lit and narrow streets that make it fun, which is something I miss about Oviedo, Leon, and Burgos. I tried a bit, but the residential areas of El Sardinero just weren't the same. Though on my walk, I did manage to find a kebab shop and a cheap cafe, so budget options do in fact exist here. And walking along the beach front is still fun, because it's so lively. Too bad it was quite a warm, humid night without any breeze, otherwise it would have been an even more enjoyable stroll. The mediocre melon gelato I got from Heladeria Italiana didn't help either, as it was a little too creamy, and not as light and refreshing as I had hoped.

Santander ... I originally thought it would be a little tacky, given that it's quite a famous tourist destination, at least for the Spanish and Europeans. Like La Coruna, Leon, and Burgos, I did have a bit of a reason for coming here (in addition to beautiful Spanish senoritas) - way back when I was going hard core with trying to learn Spanish, I did one Spanish course on CD that told the story of a
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Diferente is right! A gourmet grocery store in Spain is almost contradictory, given the general lack of effort put into food here.
Spanish family going on vacation. The whole dialogue was about taking a train to Santander, and talked about how beautiful the beach and ocean was. The name of the town stuck in my head and like with La Coruna, I told myself that I one day needed to visit this place. And exactly like with La Coruna, it far exceeded my expectations.


Additional photos below
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Trina - this made me laugh, as it's Tri's alter-ego that we created for the wedding slideshow. Too bad nobody at the wedding reception found it was as funny as we did!
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Duff beer!!!! It really does exist!!!
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Apparently, dogs aren't allowed here. That explains the lack of Chinese restaurants in the area ...
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I think this was a famous poet.
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Calle Vargas - a bit too early, so it was a bit dead.
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Two course meal with bread and water, for only 9.50 euro, on Calle Vargas.
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The cathedral, in the city centre.
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Picnic - crunchy yellow bread, with bits of what may have been crushed corn, roasted peppers that were a bit salty but good, liver pate that was too liver-y, and pineapple juice. Absolutely stuffed after!
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Vegetables look extra good when you find them in Spain, because you never see any in restaurants!!!
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Awesome views from the picnic.
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La Magdalena - great for people of all ages.
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A lonely island in the Cantabrian sea.
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Still in La Magdalena - I think this is a university for marine biology.
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The other side of La Magdalena, where the sandy beaches were. Never got to enjoy the beach here - next time!
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Cantabrian cheese (not much flavour), dry and tough serrano, the same type of bun I had for lunch, plus a multi-grain bun that had an odd flavour, reminiscent of Chinese herbal medicine, or perhaps even orange peel. Had difficulty asking for this bread at the store, since I lack some very simple Spanish vocabulary - I couldn't even say "The rectangular one". Guess that's the problem when you jump right into a language, without first learning the basics.
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A 7 euro picnic - you could have a sit down meal along Calle Vargas for only a few euros more! But still, it was an unforgettable meal because of the location.
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The land side of the great big terrace I camped out on for my picnic.


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