Thursday, September 10, 2015.
Last night, Ernesto, through his translator peregrin0, told us about the longer but more beautiful coastal walk today to Somo, rather than taking the road. Feeling motivated and ready to be off the asphalt, I jump at the chance to walk the alternate route, 5 extra km be damned. Good choice!
The trail does indeed go along the coast and there are warnings in my book that the waymarkers (yellow arrows and scallop shells) will be minimal. That is true, although when there is absolutely no other trail anywhere in sight but the one we are walking on, there is a bright yellow arrow, on a rock or on the rock wall or somewhere the walkers can clearly see it. Completely unnecessary when it does appear, as if we had any alternate route to take.
Rain is beginning to show its sprinkles and then the drizzle lasts for at least an hour or more. The distinctive characteristics of familiar pilgrims disappear along with the trail, as everyone throws on their ponchos and other rain gear.
And when the obvious trail disappears and the only place to walk is DOWN to the beach and across the sand, there are no arrows anywhere in sight. Follow the coastline, and you’ll get there eventually, no matter where “there” is, for we are all heading west.
I see, far below me, a group of pilgrims slogging through the sand, so when I get down to that level, I try to determine where they went, but they have disappeared. Looking backward and forward on a very wide stretch of wet beach, I hear a shout and see a little person holding two walking sticks up in the air triumphantly. It is Ria! She had stayed in Merueles last night when I was in Guemes, but I figured she’d catch up at some point. And here she is . . . wish I could have gotten under my bulky poncho to dig out my camera, snapping a photo of her. But use your imagination. She is like an Indian scout, checking all the footprints on the beach, trying to sort out which ones are for the myriad of surfer students and which are the hikers, and then pointing in a direction.
I am dubious, but again, the only way to go is west, and eventually, after about an hour, we see a place to climb up to the level with the town, Somo. A bar is waiting for us, and we get café con leche, of course, and bottles of water. I’m sure food is involved as well, but just can’t remember what sort of little bread thing we order.
Eventually we find our way to the pier, where the barque (a sort of ferry boat) will take everyone to Santander, a huge city, I think. As it looms in front of us at the water’s opposite shore, I know I do not want to stay here. My book (and the German one Ria is carrying) says the walk out of Santander is pretty grim. We disembark, head for a tourist information center and then walk down to the bus depot. A bus for Santander leaves in two hours, so we find somewhere to eat and kill time.
Our destination will be Santillana del Mar, though it is one place that is NOT on the”Mar”. I call the Pension Casa Octavia to see if we can secure a room for the night. We can. 38 Euro for the two of us.
Walking into Santiillana del Mar is sort of walking into a tiny version of San Gimignano. Very old stone buildings, lots of restaurants and tourist shops, a torture museum (every medieval town outta have one!) and a beautiful stone church, just before our little pension.
After settling in just a bit, we wander to see if we can find something to eat that is neither exorbitantly expensive nor enough food for five people. The light at sundown, reflecting on the stone facades, makes the entire village glow. This is the kind of salad you get if you are lucky (and you often ARE lucky!)
Tomorrow our plan is to go to the Museum of the Altamira Caves about 2 km. southwest of the town itself. No photos allowed, so have a quick look on the link here. Then we will resume our walk in the afternoon. We have reservations at a private albergue in Cóbreces called El Pino tomorrow night, though it will be a long afternoon’s walk to get there by the time we are done with the caves.