If you ever find yourself in Santander…

After the first trip to the Foreigner’s Office in Santander, Andrew and I had an entire day to explore the seaside city of Santander.  We can say that Santander merits no more than a day for touristic purposes and that it doesn’t have much to offer as far as monumental sights go.  If you like white sandy beaches nestled along a spectacular craggy coast though, you will enjoy the vistas here. We have written a tentative day plan for you, courtesy of almost exactly what we did:

Start your morning off at any of the myriad cafés that are located on every block and each corner.  Look out for desayunos.  Desayuno is translated to the English word breakfast, but you will find it to be a misnomer since you will only receive a small shot of espresso with lots of frothy milk and a slice of greasy toast if you order this.  Rest assured though, it is the best you’ll find before noontime anywhere in Spain.  Grab some fruit at a supermarket or frutería for a mid morning snack and head towards the jardines de Pereda, a park that is located next to the water and along the port of Santander. On the way stop by the Catedral de Santa María de la Asunción.  Peek your head in but don’t feel obligated to stay.  It’s not the Notre Dame.  Next take a stroll through the park and stop by the tourist office on the way out for a map of the city and of the bus routes.  You could also ask about the bikes the local government rents out that you can ride on the bike path that runs next to the water.  This sounds like a lovely idea, and I too, wanted to try it.  The machine where you swipe your credit card for payment notifies you that your bank will be authorizing a payment of 160 euros if the bike doesn’t get turned back in properly and I wasn’t willing to get near a possible withdrawal of that much cash.

Now turn back towards the center of town and meander through the newly restored district, full of unique shops and trendy bars.  Stop back here during the evening hours for tapeando or the Spanish version of bar hopping.  After checking out overpriced baby clothes and admiring where all the functionaries live in their restored apartment builidings, hop the bus down to the Peninsula de la Magdalena. It isn’t as interesting as the Lets Go travel book makes it out, but the palace is impressive and it offers interesting views back toward Santander and also down the coast.  Hike around awhile, take a break and get ready for lunch.

When it gets to be the sacred hour of the day, or 2 pm, start making your way further down the paseo along the water towards the casino.  Indulge in a menú that is sure to be inexplicable combinations of white rice, mayonnaise, canned tuna, olives, tomato sauce and a hard boiled egg as the first course, followed by fried local fish and fried potatoes.  There may or may not be an entire bottle of wine that accompanies your lunch meal.  Stumble to a park and take a quick nap to regroup. Watch folks frolicking on the beach, wish you brought your swimsuit to join in, and once you are feeling human again, follow the beachside trail back to the main part of the city.

Back in the city treat yourself to a 2 euro cone that is heaped over with delicious artisan-made ice cream.  Mosey back to the hotel or bus station and make your way to your next travel destination along the Northern Spanish coastline.  You should now be utterly exhausted or at least stuffed.


3 thoughts on “If you ever find yourself in Santander…

  1. Sounds as if this was a nice day for you. Not sure about the $250 for a bike though, seems a bit stiff to me. Glad there was a park to relax in after wine at lunch. The ice cream sounds really good. Maybe you are the next “Rick Steves” of northern Spain.

  2. I loved Santander; I know what you mean about its dearth of attractions, but I took a few visitors there, and we always walked from the centre of town all along the beach to the Isla de la Magdalena, and always indulged in the Regma ice creams there; world famous!
    There is also a lighthouse, from where sunset is magical…and close to that lighthouse are more secluded coves away from the hordes of tourists that flooded Santander whenever the sun appeared!

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