24 May 2010 – The Caves at Altimira (or so we thought)

Today is the day we head for Altamira, where they have cave paintings made 20,000 years ago.  Unfortunately we learned that they are closed on Monday, and so we had to figure out an alternate plan.  We will go to Altamira and another site with even older cave painting tomorrow on our way to Bilbao and Argomaniz.

Comillas Cemetery

Our plan B for the day was to check out the town of Comillas because the shipping magnate Antonio Lopez y Lopez, The Marquis de Comillas, loved modern architecture  and particularly Antonin Gaudi, and he gave him and some others a place to experiment.  We had also read about the cemetery with its marvelous sculptures.  While roaming around town we saw a sign “Cemeterious” and headed that way. 

An Angel Headstone

It turned out to be an open air crypt, apparently built inside the ruins of an old church.  There was one statue of a large angel riding on the waves.  Flowers decorated most of the sarcophaguses.  It was an unusual environment, to say the least.

We then continued to explore and found a road leading to the place we were looking for but it was open to cars of residents only.  We walked up the steep road and met two gardeners who tried to explain where to go, but all I could learn was that it was near a parking lot. 

A Gaudi tower

We explored the town some more and finally parked the car  and began to walk through town.  There was an unmarked path, and naturally we took it, and found a  wonderful building that looked like it could be a large

Another style

home, although it too was closed, apparently for renovation.  We couldn’t tell for sure which was Gaudi’s work, but it was all interesting.  There seemed to be two main themes, brightly painted buildings with elaborate white trim,

A Gaudi Project

and monumental structures with geometric elements that are somewhat reminiscent of a Lego construction.

We had lunch in a little open air café off the main path called El Galleon, which was quite good.  Teresa had Pimiento Rellena, and I had clams marinara.  We think the waiter who was probably the owner, really enjoyed his job, and serving us.

We then headed down to the local beach and relaxed in the sand for a while until it was time to head back to Santillana. 

Bolo Palma

We took a walk through town and found a local park and some men playing “Bolo Palma” in which they through wooden balls at nine pins arranged in a square.   It was then time for my massage appointment.  I had specified “deep tissue” massage, and that is what Maria delivered, expertly.

Dinner was excellent, although I ordered veal a second time, not realizing how similar it would be to the previous night’s meal.  We met a British couple at the next table, and were surprised to learn that they had not even heard of the cave paintings at Altamira and were not really interested.  Their main concern was that the meals were provided in a different building than their lodging.

Time for early bed and a busy day tomorrow, combining Altamira, another cave, and then the drive to Argomaniz.

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