Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Santander, Swimming and Semi-finals

Leaving Madrid at the relatively early hour of 9am it didn't take long to work out the air-conditioning in our Delica wasn't working properly. As the temperature rose to the thirties as we climbed up the Somosierra to the North of Madrid the car was similarly roasting, despite the 20 degrees the temperature gauge said it was. From then on it was windows down all the way on the 5 hour trip to the capital of Cantabria, Santander.Aside from our venture to the Basque country back in 2008, we'd hardly been to Spain's North coast, so we'd decided to stay there the night before our ferry to get a little taste. We'd booked into a Hotel just outside the city in Penacastillo, a village high up on a rather cragy hill overlooking the port. I'd been keen to hit one of the village beaches to the North but arriving at 2.30pm the relative cool (after Madrid) of the North was definitely only relative, and we didn't have any portable shade or suncream - in fact I'd got sunburned on the journey up - so we decided just to chill out at the Hotel, which had a pool.

So Rosie finally got her first swim in the Hotel spa pool. She wasn't exactly keen, making a bit of a face when the water rose up to her chest, but she had a good kick and clearly wasn't completely against the idea! Later we watched Spain beat Germany in the semi-final on a silent TV in our bedroom, then listened as the fireworks and car-horns erupted round the city in celebration.
Parking was free at the ferry port the next day, so after checking in we had time to wander round the city a bit and get a sense of the place. We'd noticed the day before the fact that construction was continuing all around in a country where generally speaking the property bubble has burst, and this sense of affluence was reinforced by the very posh shops and services on offer in the central district just off the sea front. The street meanwhile had their own distinctive style, rather narrower than Madrid or Barcelona's, the verticals lined with wood and covered balconies. We bought some fruit and pastries for breakfast from an old covered market, then headed back to the boat for our 18 hour voyage to Plymouth.

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