It feels like we have spent a great deal of time here in Spain already. When we arrived to Santander Marina and announced on Facebook that we were staying right by the international airport my parents decided to come for a visit, and therefore we spent the first 10 days in Spain in the same marina. When we woke up the first day the sun was shining on these two tired sailors that felt rather happy to have arrived to a first sense of summer. The Marina de Santander has a magnificent backdrop of mountains and a friendly staff. As usual, we were the first visiting boat of the year. We spent the first day just enjoying the sun, cleaning the boat and doing some paint jobs.
We soon realized that just because we arrived in Spain didn´t mean that it would be summer from now on. A couple of days later the weather was once more grey and rainy, but there was a regatta just outside the harbour and pretty fun to look at all the Spaniards racing. We spent the days doing some projects on the boat as we were waiting for my parents to arrive. As usual, it led to many new ideas on how we would like to re-design and renovate the boat for the future. The problem is to come up with a solution that decrease the problem with humidity inside the boat, makes it safe, convenient to sleep and easy to get stuff from storage under the bunks all at once. After some frustration I even decided to organize a workshop to see if we could come up with some new ideas. After much debate we have some new ideas on how to organize the salon and the bunks, but it is a large project that will have to wait.
The first day after my parents arrived we decided to battle the rain and took the bus in to the city centre. The magnolia was in full bloom in Santander. One of the first stops was a market where we bought some nice local cheese for the evening and were amazed by the variety of meat (Jens found heart, lung and brain of sheep for sale) and fish available here.
Not all parts of the city are in perfect condition. We wandered off in to some neighbourhoods where it looked like a lot of the buildings were abandoned and others where the beautiful old buildings are mixed with the new. The evening ended with tapas on-board Mouni, in the warm comfort of the heating fan, nice company and some wine.
Some days were sunny and where the sun is it gets warm fast. We took advantage of these days by walking along the water and exploring the outskirts of the town as well. One of the best things with Santander is the nice backdrop of mountains that is always present, meanwhile they have nice walks and beaches along the water surrounding the city.
We first took a walk out to the lighthouse at Cabo Mayor just west of the city, and then continued back to the centre and the Palacio de La Magdalena. It is a beautiful walk along beaches and dramatic cliffs, passing a lot of surfing schools and restaurants along the way. A lot of the restaurants has affordable menus where you can get three courses and wine for between 10-20€.
Last but not least we also took a trip to Bilbao by bus to visit the Guggenheim museum on a rainy day. Apparently you were supposed to book tickets to the bus in advance, which we didn´t, but even though that resulted in us just having a few hours in Bilbao the museum is definitely worth a visit (Jens didn’t appreciate the art and recommends just looking at the building from the outside ;-)). I especially enjoyed the large sculptures inside and outside of the museum, as well as the architecture of the building itself.
It was great having mon and dad close for some days, even if family and friends are just a phone call away we do miss them all a lot!
NOTES FOR SAILORS
There are several marinas in Santander. We tried getting a spot in the marina just by the city centre (Darsena de Molnedo) but was forced to move on since the guard told us all the spots were rented out. We continued upriver to the Marina de Santander, which is a big marina with all facilities including a nice restaurant with rooftop terrace (for our 32 feet boat the winter rate was 12,5 Euro/night, summer rate was 25 Euro/night). It is however a 15 min walk to the nearest bus stop, the bus to Santander goes every hour and takes about 20 minutes. The river is easily navigated since it is very well buoyed but beware off both big ferries and cargo ships that frequently traffic the commercial harbours in the river. As usual also a lot of fishing vessels. When leaving we had fairly strong winds which in combination with the tides created surprisingly rough seas and we had an uncomfortable bumpy hour down the river before getting out ont the open sea again. Even though we had no sails and no engine our SOG was still about 3,5 knots.
Hope you all enjoyed the warm weather that has been visiting all of Europe the last week! Our journey continued along the north coast of Spain to Llanes, which I think is one of our favourite spots so far, but that deserves its own blog post (P.S. Don´t you worry, the story of our Biscay crossing will come soon too).