Our next stop is the Parador at Santillana del Mar where we will have two nights, and a chance to explore [a replica] of the Altamira Caves, which have paintings over 25,000 years old.
We are now driving eastward along the north coast of Spain, so we took smaller roads wherever we could, and on Fodor’s recommendation, stopped at the marvelous village of Llanes which dates back to the 11th century and older. Once again, both walking and even driving through the twisty little streets of these towns is a delight. We are beginning to realize that we have been hitting a lot of tourist towns, but without many tourists. It’s been really good that way.
Our Fodor’s guidebook also mentioned Playa Ballota, a nude beach in the next town, and so naturally that was our next destination. (Accidental pun.) It was not easy to find. I asked a few people for Playa BaLLotta, and got nowhere at all, until I remembered it is pronounce Playa BaYotta.
Even then it was a while before we got help. We finally saw a sign, and a small road which led part way to the beach. The last part was a really difficult trek over boulders, harder than the walk down to Black’s Beach.
There were families, couples, and some singles, all having a pleasant time. I had a good swim, in water that was not that cold. I can now add the Bay of Biscay to the places where I’ve been skinny dipping around the world
The highway designations in Spain have one or two letters, and Miss Nüvi deals with them in her own way. N-320 is “North 320” even if the direction is south. CA-225 is “California 225”, NC-310 is “North Carolina 310” and of course, AS-316 is “American Samoa 316”.
However, she did get us to the Parador Santillana Gil Blas, which is built on old foundations, and once again we had a delightful walk through town. There was a classic car get-together going on, and the plaza was full of sports and antique cars in beautiful condition.
We took our usual walk through town and rather than follow the concierge’s advice, which was, of course, to eat at the Parador, we found a little café attached to the Hotel Altimira, and which had delicious sandwiches. I decided to give chocolate and churros another chance, and this time it was not hot fudge they served, but regular hot chocolate, but with delicious, very hot and very crisp churros. For the perfect Chocolate and Churros, the chocolate needs to be thicker, but not as thick as hot fudge, so I am going to work on it when I get home. The other problem is to find crisp churros.
We happened upon a lovely 11th and 12th century Romanesque church, dedicated to Saint Juliana, who was martyred in the year 305. We noticed a statue of her fighting the devil. By the way, Romanesque has little to do with the Romans, and although the origins are not fully clear, the style of architecture came to Spain from France, or through France. It is characterized by thick walls and semi-circular arches, rather than pointed Gothic arches.
We headed back to the hotel, and now fully on Spanish time, changed our dinner reservation from 8:30 to 9:45 and took a long siesta.
Dinner at the Parador was, as usual, excellent.