Tuesday, 16 February 2010
The Spanish Outback
Good grief! Spain is an incredibly under-populated country. The first half of our route through the interior of Spain was a barren desert, and the second half was equally desolate! A high level, snow-rimmed dual-carriageway, with views across to the impressive Cantabrian mountains in the distance, reaching a peak outside Burgos. Signs flashing warning of snow and “slow down”, nothing to see but mile after mile of flora and fauna-free landscape. In the deep and distant past, I recalled a Geography lesson- continental weather is bitterly cold in Winter and baking hot in Summer, the result being conditions not conducive to life!!
We’d climbed out of Alicante and remained at about 2000’ for about ten hours of travelling! Last night at the Picos de Miel was the coldest yet, -5deg. Fan heater on most of the night to keep warm. In the morning we had worrying problems starting the van and a yellow engine warning light, which took all day to disappear from the dashboard. However we made it to Santander, and a free, overnight, out-of season campsite pitch. The following day we travelled down to the port for about 11am, for the 7pm sail. The main city area is built up around the port, so there was plenty to see and do, while we waited. A biting cold wind, but we were impressed by the surroundings of the port, framed by hills and greenery, a large sheltered harbour.
We dug out the faithful “Lonely Planet” guide, and found a cracking place to eat “Bar Cantabria”, with its smoky, friendly bar downstairs and slightly less smoky comedor upstairs. Sopa Castillana (light, meaty stock-soup), followed by Lenguadilla a la Plancha (a sort of plaice, grilled with garlic), and Pudding/Flan/Strawberry gateau and a bottle of wine and two cortados. Great food and interesting surroundings, as with most of the places we’ve tried in the LPguide, and all for 20euros! A brief snooze in the van, and then we began loading.
For most people the cabin would be tight, but we had room to spare, after being confined to the van for nearly two weeks. Good food, good night’s sleep on a trip thru a benign Bay of Biscay. We agreed we’d do this part of the journey again, rather than travelling down thru France, to get to Portugal. One Day!!