Northern Spain with a dash of France

On Monday, we landed back in Madrid early in the morning and had a night train booked for Santander. So, we stored our luggage at the Atocha train station and spent the day doing a bit of shopping in the city centre. It was a pretty hot day (about 34 degrees) so we ended up going to the botanical gardens and back to the park so we could find some relief in the shade. Around 6pm we grabbed ourselves some dinner and then had to navigate our way from Atocha to Charmartin Station. It was a bit confusing, and when we jumped on board a departing train which almost separated us (the door started closing on Kadin while I was still on the platform – luckily he pulled it open and myself plus half a dozen others hurriedly threw ourselves into the carriage), we still weren’t sure if we’d got on the train “going to” or “coming from” Charmartin, as our knowledge of Spanish prepositional verbs aren’t that sharp. Kadin said the name of the station to another passenger on board and he held up three fingers and said, “three stops.” The rest of our journey went smoothly, we arrived in Santander late at night. Our airbnb was only 10 minutes’ walk from the station…

The next morning, we went for a stroll through town. We came across a few neat sculptures and historical landmarks. It was much less touristy and not too busy. We ended up walking along the waterfront and came across some beautiful beaches.

After spending some time relaxing on the beach, we walked up to the palace on the point, Palacio de la Magdalena. It has a pretty good vantage point of the bay below and we even came across a small free zoo with penguins and seals. On the other side, there were more beautiful beaches, so we enjoyed the evening sun on the sand.

On the way back to our airbnb, we walked along a suburban street and marvelled at the tight parking. We even got to watch a lady park her car in one of the spaces – she did an amazing job, but we didn’t film it (as that could have been a bit awkward)…

However, on closer inspection we did notice many of these cars had significant scratches and bumps on the front and back!
The next morning, we went on our ‘Camino Pilgrimage.’ There’s actually many networks of trails that make up the Camino Trail to Santiago – The Camino del Norte trail winds around the northern coast of Spain passing through Santander and is one of the oldest routes, so we thought we’d check out a segment. We started walking from our airbnb, grabbing a picnic lunch from the bakery and fruit shop along the way. The first part of our Camino started in style… as there were travellators in the steep streets in the middle of town!! We took advantage of these …saving some much needed energy…

It didn’t take long before we reached the edge of town and then it abruptly became the countryside. We walked through a neat community with large crops and small cattle farms – they looked very self-sufficient…

Eventually, we reached the coast, coming out at a neat little seaside settlement. Here we located the coastal path, which makes-up part of the Camino Trail. The rock formations on the coast were spectacular with many cosy sandy bays nestled amongst the rocks. The trail was almost empty, we rarely came across other pilgrims. It was in one of the earlier bays we stopped for our picnic lunch…

After lunch we continued following the trail, up and down the hilly coastline. We saw some wildlife and wildflowers along the way. There was even a charming little church on the trail. We finished following the trail at the lighthouse, both feeling pretty exhausted, so we treated ourselves to a cold beverage at the café…

Feeling refreshed, we walked down the hill from the lighthouse and enjoyed another evening on the beach. By the time we reached our airbnb again that evening (finishing our Camino) we estimated that we walked about 15kms.

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Arriving in San Sebastian

The next morning, we checked out early and took the bus to San Sebastian.
We checked in to our airbnb, a large share house with a full kitchen and washing machine. We spent the afternoon catching up on domestic duties – grocery shopping, laundry and planning time/netflix. The next morning, we had a full day walking around San Sebastian. We were pretty impressed with the beaches and decided we’d definitely spend a day relaxing on the sand during our stay…

We wandered through the busy streets of old town. The square was pretty interesting, all the rooms around the edges had numbers on them from the bull fighting days (premium seats for the bull fights). There were so many packed pintxos (bars with tapas that San Sebastian is famed for)…we finally chose one and enjoyed beef cheeks, pig ears and ribs on bread…

We escaped the hustle and bustle by aiming for the beach again…

At the far end of the beach we reached Mount Iguela’s funicular – and couldn’t resist! At the top we were treated to spectacular views …and also a rather decrepit theme park (which supposedly still operates on the weekends)…

The next morning, we took an early bus to France! We decided to enjoy a day in the seaside town of Biarritz because we were only 20kms from the border (an hour bus trip to Biarritz). When the bus reached the border, two French custom officers boarded the coach and wanted to check passports for all passengers. We’d left our passports back in our airbnb (isn’t the EU supposed to be borderless…?), but luckily we always carry a photocopy of our passports in our bags. We’ve always done this, but never needed to use it… and it worked fine, along with our drivers’ licence. When we reached Biarritz, we were faced with more beautiful beaches. It was still pretty early when we arrived (8am) and there was almost no one on the beach, so we sat and took in the beautiful surroundings.

Next, we headed for the lighthouse, passing by some beautiful buildings. At the top we enjoyed the views with hot drinks…

On the return we found the beach now being enjoyed by a few more people!

We headed back towards the town, mostly sticking to the coastline. We relaxed in a small little bay which got quite busy as the day reached peak heat (30+ degrees)…

However, there wasn’t much shade on the beach so we wandered through the town, sticking to the shady side of the streets. There were also lots of hydrangeas in full bloom which added to the lovely feel of the town)…

To top off our small adventure in France, we just had to stop by a French patisserie…

Back in San Sebastian, we had a chilled out last full day – we decided to leave the camera at home and spent the day reading our books and soaking up the sunshine on the beach.

Have fun at work!

Gemma

One comment

  1. Feeling a little jealous. Our weather has been very cold of recent with some very good frosts and here are pictures with you in warm sun looking for shade!!!

    My brother and sister in law have spent over a month each time (they’re been twice) doing the Camino Walk. They really enjoyed each of the walks.

    Enjoy the next part of your trip
    Carol ox

    Liked by 1 person

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