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Cahecho: May 11, 2022
Funiculars and VIEWS!
Sometimes, you just need to sleep in. After 24+ hours of no sleep, that’s what we needed this morning so we are now officially on Spanish time. Until they invent the instantaneous transporter, I guess we will always have to deal with jet lag.
As we weren’t being picked up until 2 PM, we had plenty of time to walk around Santander to see more of the city. Yesterday we saw the beaches and parks so today thought we’d see where people lived, laughed, and loved (not that everyone is in the past tense here).
Behind our hotel was the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Santander, one of those giant churches Spain has in every town bigger than 15 people. When we came to an entrance, we went in, but this church was so much smaller than what we expected. This church was still several times the size of anyone you’d find in America. After a few minutes, we learned we were in the Iglesia de Cristo, which was a “small” additional chapel built under the main chapel. This 102 by 59 foot room looked just like a regular church, but instead of being 10’s of stories tall, was only about 1.5 stories tall. So it gave the whole place the feel of in intimate, personal place of worship. The entire church was, like everything else in Europe, built on top of an old Romain fort and in 1982 an excavation of the flooreveled the old fort. They covered the excavations with a glass floor and it was neat to look at them.
They also had a display of the relics from two martyred saints associated with the church: Emeterio and Celedonio. Both were Roman soldiers who were decapitated for professing their Christian faith on March 3, 298. Celedonio also is the patron saint of Santander, the city of Calahorra, and the province of La Roija. In 1536, when Spain was rolling in the silver from the New World, the church commissioned pure silver busts to contain the craniums of the martyrs. What was amusing to me was that the busts looked exactly like perfectly, proper gentleman living in 1536.
We continued our walk around the city working our way up to the University of Cantabria. Being that Santander is a hilly city, the best things we found was that in one of the parks, they had installed three separate escalators so you didn’t have to walk up the hill. In another section with a steep hill, we loved riding the funicular to avoid the wear and tear on our knees going down.
At 2:00 PM, we met up with Alex, the guide from Pura Aventura, the company we are using for trip planning. He’s been working for them over 10 years and loves it. Pam and I enjoyed the drive into the mountains because we loved those tiny, twisty roads in narrow valleys so steep you can barely see up the mountains. At one point, I realized where we were and when we turned the corner, there was La Hermida, a town of five buildings clinging to the three car length flat space in the valley. Since my wonderful sister and wonderful brother in law have the last name of Hermida, it will always be special to us.
Alex took us to our hotel, Casa Lamadrid in Cahecho. The hotel advertises itself as “El Mirador de Liébana” (The Viewpoint of Liébana, where Liébana is the county in Cantabria). Honestly, they sell themselves short. The view is just about as close to heaven as you can get. You can see two of the three massifs that makes up the Picos de Europa and the view goes FOREVER! Put this place on your bucket list just to see the view. It’s that good.
Alex went over all the hikes and maps with us so we could get a handle on the next bunch of days. We discussed all the alternatives and covered all the possible issues. He got us hooked up with Wikiloc, an app for your phone you can use to make sure you are on the path. Overall, it was about as thorough a briefing as one could have to prepare for the trip. We are on our own for the next week, but will meet up again with Alex so we can go with him to talk culture and sheep herding with a local shepherd as well as hike around the lakes above Covadonga.
We thought we’d try out the hiking app doing part of a hike around the hotel. Let’s just say that I am a million times better with a map and compass than I am following a highly automated application. Pam teased me about my lack of navigational abilities. However, the views along the walk were glorious and we got to hear the faint cow bells so she’s not too mad.
When we got back to the hotel, it was time for dinner. That’s when we found out we were the only guests in the entire hotel. As an introvert, that makes me very happy, but Pam the normal person would like it if there were other people to talk with. The owner of the hotel told us that we were going to have a traditional meal, which is always a great sign for amazing food. The first course was a glorious noodle soup with a broth more flavorful than stews we have eaten in the past. The main course was the Cantabria specialty of garbanzo beans and beef all cooked together. When served, the garbanzo beans, cabbage, and beef are all separated and served on a big platter. Add in the glorious Spanish bread, and a bottle of the Tempranillo-based wine from La Rioja and we had some beyond happy bellies. To make it even better we sat outside and had those superb views to keep us company while we ate. As you can tell, we are suffering here to bring you this story.
Since she was snoring yesterday when I asked for her picks, here’s her picks from yesterday and today.
Yesterday: The surprise view from our hotel room in Santander, which looked out over the Bahía de Santander (Bay of Santander). Also the sublime jamón and queso sandwiches.
Today: Eating dinner looking out over the amazing views and enjoying the sunset while the cowbells rang in the distance.