Day 13. Double scallop day

When Paula and I lived in Madrid we were privileged to visit the cave of Altamira near Santillana del Mar. I believe it was Kamal Osman who was able to get the tickets which even back then were very difficult to come by; today the cave is closed to the public for reasons of conservation of the paintings. The cave is known for the drawings of wildlife and human hands. The earliest paintings are about 35,000 years old.

No, I did not sneak into the cave to take this iconic picture

Today I took a bus from Santander to Santillana, not to see the cave (or the replica of the cave which is open to visitors), but to avoid the industrial and urban areas on the way out. There is a coastal variant but that would have been a 20-mile walk with 10 more to get to Santillana del Mar. With the rain threatening, I opted for the bus and arrived in Santillana about 11:30. As I was to learn later, I missed some heavy rainfall by a couple hours.

Paula, Lisa, John and I visited Santillana last year on our eastward drive but I had no time to linger. I found the yellow arrows and headed towards Comillas, about 17 miles away. I met a young man from Hong Kong. He told me things were sort of back to normal in his country. You could criticize the government as long as you kept it off the internet and as long as you did not want a government job. If you were famous, like Jack Mah, you were also likely to get into trouble for criticizing the government. In our country, I told him, half the people criticize the president and his party while the other half criticize the party not in power.

The trail led close to the coast but there were no cliff side paths today. At one point, I saw a large truck with the names of cities from all over Europe and the Middle East. I knocked on the door and Antje, or Ann, a German woman, answered. She had been traveling for years in her home on wheels. She gave me a scallop shell.

To travel is to live.

I made it to Comillas about 5:30, had a shower and went off in search of a beer, which I found and shared with a couple of Scots, Dave and Callum. They are the ones who told me they had hiked 3 out of 4 hours in the rain, along the same route I had taken a couple hours later. I departed in search Gaudí’s Capricho but found it overrun with schoolchildren so I returned to the plaza in search of a restaurant. I found the Kimera, and along came Dave and Callum. The owner was Antonio who served us what he considered to be a great Albariño which was very crisp with notes of honeydew and a red blend called El Regajal from Aranjuez. Julian, the chef served up some great meals for us. I had lentils with maigret de canard (yes, unusual pairing but it worked) and grilled red mullet. The Scots both had the cod, grilled them baked, as their mains.

Antonio and the foodies
El jefe Julián preparing to create in his kitchen. He gets fresh fish from the docks every morning, meat from a farmer friend and grows much of his own veggies and herbs. He presented me and the Scots with scallop shells. That was two shells in one day for me!

One thought on “Day 13. Double scallop day

  1. I would love to see the caves of Altamira. Did you see the movie with Antonio Banderas, and the discovery of the caves? I thought it was very good. Congratulations on making it to 2 weeks!


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