Sunday September 21, 2014
We woke this Sunday morning in a private room with our own bathroom which houses a huge bathtub. That alone would be cause for celebration, but what tips this off the scale of great experiences is that we are on the top floor of the fully restored 16th century home/hostile/albergue of Jorge Hidalgos who was born here in Santillana del Mar. Jorge tells us that his great grandfather bought the place and his grandmother did a lot of the restoration but it’s easy to see that Jorge has also decorated this place with exquisite taste and character.
This is what I am looking at as I write this today.
But this story really begins with the night before last. After an exquisite and breathtaking walk along a vast coastal cliff descending to a long … long beautiful beach,
we crossed the bay via ferryboat to spend the night in the city of Santander at an overcrowded, stuffy albergue. After a less than satisfying night, Natalie and I then walked about 45 km (26+ miles) of the most uninspired and boring stretch of the Camino to date. This was also the hottest day so far with temperatures in the 90s. Mile after mile we followed a pipeline bordered by refineries and flatlands.
Many people avoid this drudgery by training through and that’s probably what I would do next time. It was 12 hours later, exhausted and totally spent, that we decided to stop at the next possible hotel we could find. And then…
We turned the corner into what seemed like a fairyland.
Suddenly without warning the streets and buildings were authentically preserved from 500 years ago! Within 10 steps we entered a time warp and stumbled into Jorge’s Solar de Hidalgos. We bathed, changed our clothes and walked in utter amazement through the cobblestoned streets of this beautifully preserved town. Finding a restaurant in an outdoor courtyard we dined on fresh seafood before falling deeply to sleep in our own room.
Today we decided to recover from the long walks of the past week and stay here in this sanctuary. But the other reason to stay was the caves of Altamira. Google that and you will know why we stayed.
We have walked 311km so far and still have 555km left to go. We are pretty much on schedule. Most people on the Camino have a fixed date in which to finish which puts some pressure on them. We are blessed to not have to worry about that as we saunter through the Camino del Norte one day at a time, one step at a time.
More stories from The Way as we have time to both live them, tell them and find a good WiFi connection.